An evening at the Marritt Cafe' Phuket, Thailand
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JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa

 An evening at the Marriott Cafe'

The Marriott Hotel lies at the north end of Phuket island. A short drive from the main road brings one to the very impressive and imposing hotel entrance

One immediately feels that this is a 5 star experience which has been transported in all its glory from the United States. On arrival outside the huge reception lobby one just steps out of the car and a valet sees that it is not seen again until time to leave, when it will be waiting. Walking through the lobby immediately on the right hand side is the comfortable cocktail lounge. A little further along one's eye is irresistibly drawn to a beautiful pond, called the "Reflecting Pond". This is a very large expanse of water which when viewed by day seems to extend to the very edge of the Andaman Sea. By night-time it is equally impressive though the illusion of depth is lost. Continuing on as if to pass the Reflecting Pond, one instead turns right alongside it and the Marriott Cafée can be found on the left hand side at the end of the Pond.

On entry to the cafée it is clear from the warmth of the reception that here are staff who intend to make sure that guests are totally satisfied. As one passes into the Cafée a number of immediate impressions fight for supremacy. There are full length glass windows which give magnificent views over the landscaped gardens to the Andaman Sea. There is a high Sala style ceiling which adds to the sense of space and atmosphere and everywhere the quality fixtures and decorations make their contributions to an all pervading sense of comfort and relaxation.

Immediately on the left as one advances into the cafée, is the kitchen and buffet area. The kitchen is open style which is always reassuring when people can see that their food is being prepared in spotlessly clean conditions. The buffet area is about 50 meters square. On one side are hot dishes containing a variety of meats cooked in many different styles in the adjacent kitchen. In the centre is a salad bar with everything a'saladholic' could possibly require. Especially eye catching are the spreads of fresh breads and salad dressings. On the far side is laid out a variety of sweets and ice cream which will surely claim attention. The full buffet is available during high season and on special occasions when the hotel is busy in the low season. Otherwise, during the low season the salad bar alone is featured. One could be forgiven for thinking that this is the whole purpose of the Marriott Cafée, but in addition there is a full international a la carte menu served all day.

The a la carte menu features some signature dishes which are intended to give some sense of the variety and quality of the food. Three of these signature dishes were put to the test for the purposes of this article. The first dish to be presented was Vietnamese Summer Rolls - Shrimp and Vegetables Rolled in Fresh Spring Roll Wrappers served with Hot Mustard Sauce. The presentation of this dish was excellent reflecting perhaps unsuspected artistry in the kitchen. The Spring Rolls had a delicate taste very pleasing to the palate, but the Hot Mustard Sauce was sensational. The Spring Rolls covered in Mustard Sauce disappeared very quickly. The second dish to be presented was Miso Glazed Tasmanian Salmon with Bok Choy and Jasmine Rice in a Lemongrass Miso Broth. The presentation again was excellent. This time a well proportioned salmon steak sat atop vegetables sunk in Miso Broth. A bowl of fragrant rice was separately presented. The salmon was succulent with a very tasty glaze and surprisingly filling. Then came the piece de resistance Swiss Chocolate Custard Tower with Wild Flower Honey Tuile and a Cranberry Coulis. The same kitchen artist who had performed on the entréee had been at it again. This was a work of art which, after the first tentative taste, was devoured in very few mouthfuls. A truly delicious end to a memorable meal. To complement the food served here there is an extensive wine list with a number of well known appellations. The wine chosen on this occasion was a moderately priced bottle of Chablis which was perfect.

The food was perfect and the service attentive without being intrusive. Lest the reader thinks that this all reeks of overkill, perhaps an insight into the background of the Food and Beverage Manager will reassure and justify the completely deserved praise. Mr. Theera Kanjana, the F&B Manager, has worked outside Thailand for the last 28 years, mainly for the Marriott organisation in the United States. His commitment to quality and customer service is apparent, as one would expect of someone with such extensive USA experience. When asked what course a guest might take if any misunderstanding occurred, Khun Theera's reply was swift and to the point. "We have a manager on duty at all times……our people are empowered to take care of the guests………every guest leaves satisfied". He went on to explain that there was a continual training process in place which focuses upon spoken English to reduce misunderstandings and the sovereignty of the customer which creates customer satisfaction. As a native born Thai he was well aware of the task ahead. "The food out here in Thailand is so good that we have to be that much better to compete. Our food is always the best and freshest that can be bought."

The memorable meal was finished but there was still the journey back to the car. Past the reflecting pond, past an excellent jazz singer in the now thriving cocktail lounge and finally past a number of smiling waitresses and hostesses. On arrival at the front of the reception hall the car was waiting. A highly recommended evening out with only one regret - it had to end.

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