Dining with the sharks at Centara Phratamnak

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The newest, and possibly the glitziest hotel in Pattaya is the new Centara Grand Phratamnak Resort.  Owned by the Tulip Group and managed by Centara, it is difficult to describe this property without going over the top.

We parked in the basement car park and took the glass elevator to the lobby level to be met with an illuminated vista that will take your breath away.  Madame just went “Oh! Wow!”  Chrome, glass and marble everywhere, a grand piano in the center, and living walls with sharks gliding past you in silence.  I was tempted to say this is “The age of Aquaria”, but you have to be a certain age to remember the “Age of Aquarius”!

The Oceana restaurant, which we had come to review, is off to the right of the lobby, with an enormous aquarium along the side wall, and the open kitchen at the far wall.  This is under Executive Chef Luca, who proved himself to be one of the more innovative chefs as the evening went on.

We were seated at an enormous round table and the napery and glassware were just top level items.  Seating was comfortable, and the service staff, under Maitre d’ Leon, were exemplary and unobtrusive.

Chef Luca came to see us before we began our Oceana dining experience.  There were to be four courses plus a Dessert Surprise, with the first being described as “Western with a twist”.  This was a Parmesan cheese base with walnut cream, pears, celery sprouts, raisins and sultanas.  A mélange of subtle flavors, it was an excellent starter, which we washed down with a nicely chilled Hugo Cassanova white.

The second course was described to us as a Goose liver with two flavors being Asian and French.  The goose liver came on a raisin crouton, with crispy ginger and tamarind foam.  Contrasting with this was a spicy pork dumpling and a cone with “miang khum” the Thai concoction with nuts, chili and other spices.  This was a really amazing dish and the “miang khum” just set it all off.

The third course was my favorite, both for taste and presentation.  Served in a polished brass ‘dow tarn’, it was similar to a tom yum goong but with a prawn ravioli, only slightly spicy and a wonderful palate pleaser.

The fourth course was the main, with a Canadian Black Angus tenderloin, goose liver terrine and a ‘reconstructed’ grape Luca told me. (The skin is removed and new skin made from a glaze – don’t try this at home!)  The beef was done exactly to order, and was very tender, and the vegetables were butter glazed and the potato was done rosti style.

We drank a South African Ayama Pinotage Shiraz, 2011 with the main course and it was a very smooth red, and Hallelujah, it was served at room temperature and not kept in an ice bucket.  (Some days I despair!)

The Dessert Surprise was a dish you would never imagine in your wildest dreams.  The entire kitchen brigade was involved making a work of art that reminded me of a Jackson Pollock painting, with each member adding a bit more until the “canvas” tile was covered.

When we finished, we sauntered upstairs and had a nightcap around the roof level pool.  It was a memorable evening.

You should make a note in your diaries to visit the Centara Grand Phratamnak.  It is certainly a venue for indulgence, and the bill is no greater than you would expect at any five star property.  Get in first before your friends start raving about their evening there!

Centara Grand Phratamnak Resort Pattaya, 352/430 Moo 12, Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi 20150.  Tel: 038 306 337, Fax: 038 306 338.  Secure parking under the main building.