|Lafite, Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur|
Valentine’s Day Set Dinner Menu
Ask a Malaysian or an expat who has lived in Kuala Lumpur for any lengthy period of time for an elegant dining recommendation and Lafite is sure to roll off tongues early in the conversation. One of the original fine dining establishments in the city, Lafite at the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur has stood the reliable test of time.
The room is round and centred by a giant glass water feature, with tables fanning out in a circular manner from the decorative core. Sounds of running water form a pleasant background hum alongside softly playing Buddha Bar tunes. Tall windows overlook lush tropical gardens and there’s glistening glass everywhere.
Service is supreme and the wine list is one of the best in the city. Chefs change, but standards are consistent. The top masters in their field are recruited and, the restaurant has benefited from a stream of well-reputed names gracing the kitchen.
Award winning Chef de Cuisine, Jean-Philippe Guiard, currently heads the crew. Formerly gaining experience in one and two Michelin starred kitchens in Europe he worked his way up to become chef de cuisine of Joel Robouchon, the three starred Michelin restaurant in Paris! Expectations are high.
We’re here to sample Lafite’s Valentine’s Day set dinner menu.
Beginning with a glass of bubbly in the Red Room, Champagne Bar, our appetites are whet and our thoughts enthusiastic. Canapes are presented on a rectangular black slate. Petite rounds of seabass and oyster tartare and truffle scrambled eggs hint at the quality of the meal to come. We’re excited. We could easily pass a couple of hours here but remember the menu is a line up of six courses, so switch our low lounges and dimly lit room for the elegant fine dining setting of Lafite.
|Champagne Taittinger Brut Reserve in the Red Room Champagne Bar|
The restaurant is full – testimony to the chef’s reputation.
Warm bread – rye, ciabatta and soft baguette – arrives in a metal basket. Echire Beurre de Baratte sides it - nothing less than French butter will do of course.
An amuse bouche of Asparagus Cream is served in a petite white bowl. It’s frothy on top, like a machine made cappuccino, with a stripe of charred fine breadcrumbs flanking the surface. Full flavoured and creamy, yet not viscous, it’s surprisingly light and airy. The soup is an elegant start and has performed its duty well, arousing our interest for what’s to come.
|Amuse Bouche - Asparagus Cream|
Gorgeous tall-stemmed glasses, resembling slim leggy models, adorn the table. M. Chapoutier 2011, Le Ciboise, Luberon from the Rhone Valley is the first filler. Subtle aromas of spring blooms and citrus prove our first wine pairing a perfect match for ensuing seafood. This wine carries a story too - it’s one of the only companies in the world to print wine labels in Braille as well as regular print. The waiter allows us to rub the bottle to feel the patterns of raised dots beneath our fingertips.
|M. Chapoutier 2011, Le Ciboise, Luberon|
A succinct tower of Hokkaido Scallop, Oyster and Aquitaine’s Caviar Tartare appears alone in a bowl. Warm Lobster Consommé is poured over the top providing a tad of table entertainment. With a rich seafood flavour, it could easily overstep that delicate balance of intensity, but chef has mastered this brew and reigns in the tastes gracefully.
|Hokkaido Scallop, Oyster and Aquitaine’s Caviar Tartare, Lobster Consommé|
Joseph Drouhin, Pouilly-Fuissé 2010 is our next white. A change in glass size shows the meticulousness of the restaurant. Not all white wines are equal and so deserve different shaped and sized drinking vessels. This chardonnay is dark blonde in colour, with ripe grapes and flowers on the nose. It’s refreshing with a long aftertaste and proves a playful companion for the following two dishes.
|Joseph Drouhin, Pouilly-Fuissé Grans Vins de Bourgogne 2010|
Langoustine Ravioli with Melted Leek, Cognac Sauce and Salmon Roe provides a podium for each ingredient to showcase their unique flavours. Rather than blending together to form an overall taste, each takes an equal turn in the spotlight. The sauce is frothy and coats the mouth, the crustacean luscious supplying texture and a taste of the sea and, the fish eggs burst with a salty juiciness.
|Langoustine Ravioli with Melted Leek, Cognac Sauce and Salmon Roe|
A flat white plate with a small reservoir in the middle holds Seared Wild Turbot with White Beans and Coconut Cream, Crispy Salsify and Roasted Spices. Shavings of dried crispy eggplant tangle the top, white fish flesh supports the vegetable and a beige pond bathes it all. The fish is pan seared scorching a lovely golden brown on the outside but leaving white flaky flesh within. Tiny white bean sprouts deceptively appear as long grains of rice. Upon biting though the palate receives a fresh moist surge uncovering the deception.
|Seared Wild Turbot with White Beans and Coconut Cream, Crispy Salsify and Roasted Spices|
Another wine glass is brought to our table for a change to red. We have thoughts of Russian Babushka dolls. Each class presented is bigger than the previous. Opulence, decadence, living life lavishly – it’s more than we need but we relish in every detail. Sticking to the French theme, Connetable Talbot Saint Julien 2009, is the next wine of choice.
|Connetable Talbot Saint Julien 2009|
An oval bowl opens like a hand cradling the Duck Liver, Egg and Truffle Warm Jelly. Fine strips of black truffle are stacked on top and, the rich liver is a baked egg custard texture with a thin sauce across the surface. This plate goes equally well with the last drops of our white and our current red. It’s a perfect interchange dish, allowing us to experiment with a red and a white pairing. We’re leaning towards a preference for the white as it seems to mirror the dish’s richness with is smooth viscosity. We appreciate the red though for its ability to slice through the creaminess.
|Duck Liver, Egg and Truffle Warm Jelly|
Spying on our fellow diners between courses we witness a wedding proposal at our neighbouring table. It’s a quiet event, but we delight in the intimate celebration. The potential mate has chosen the location well and his request is met with a teary, “Yes!”
Back on our table, chef continues to impress with Roasted Wagyu Beef Tenderloin, Fake Potato and Porcini Truffle and Beef Jus. A parsnip cone is coated with crushed hazelnuts and, two black rounds of potato mash rolled in a black mushroom crumb resemble black truffles harvested fresh from the forest. The sauce is a reduced beef juice with small pieces of mushroom and duck liver exciting the taste buds with a rich decadence. We cut the beef and laugh at the use of a butter knife – it’s literally all you need. Hubby murmurs and groans something unintelligible but easily translatable - “this is the best beef of the year,” or something along those lines. We’re beyond words and end the dish mute with a few guttural sounds of pleasure.
|Roasted Wagyu Beef Tenderloin, Fake Potato and Porcini Truffle and Beef Jus|
Now that our plates are empty, hubby continues on a monologue about this indeed being the best meal of the year. Only a month in, I guess its chances are high. But… I do have to agree. I’m dazzled. This truly has been a breathtaking (tummy caressing) experience.
Passion Fruit Mousse, Pineapple Leaves, Valrhona Dark Chocolate Sauce and Lemon Meringue
is the grand finale. Two canary yellow mounds crowned with lemon caviar are carefully dripped with two spoons (one on each hill) of cacao sauce. Two mounds mean two different tasting sensations. I start the first eating each layer separately and, finish the second trying everything mixed together. It’s a sweet finish, but wonderfully refreshing, lightening our closure rather than leaving us feeling heavy and overstuffed.
|Passion Fruit Mousse, Pineapple Leaves, Valrhona Dark Chocolate Sauce and Lemon Meringue|
We’ve had a fabulous evening. Each dish has proved perfect portioning. Every one is rich in taste providing a complete episode for each course. Singularly satisfying, but building on each other, we think the chef is a genius.
Lafite’s Valentine’s Day Set Dinner Menu is priced at RM 900++ per couple. Reservations are a must.
Reason to visit: exceptional service; fine classic French cuisine; excellent wine list.
11 Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur 50250
+6 03 2074 3900
Lunch: 12noon – 2:30pm (Monday to Friday)
Dinner: 7pm – 10:30pm (Monday to Saturday)
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