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On The Menu: Very Versace

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PHUKET: Versace is a name synonymous with quality and style and so it is with Le Versace restaurant lounge bar, which is perched high on the northern hills above Patong.

This brand new venue officially opens next month, offering not only fine dining, but one of finest views of Patong available.

Its not often I get to feel like a VIP, but arriving at ‘Le Versace’ was as close as it gets. Walking through the ornate, Gothic-arched entrance you are transported into a sumptuously decorated interior dripping in opulence. There are tables, chairs, tableware and furnishings that are all Versace originals. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling and gold statues and mosaics add to this superbly ornate locale.

Situated on three levels, each with a commanding view over Patong Bay, this is a perfect place to watch the sunset.

The Swiss-born GM and executive chef, Georges Dufresne, explains that it was this same view that caused him to have the epiphany that resulted in the creation of Le Versace.

Georges’ motto is Passion for excellence and it is easy to see that this is an establishment that cherishes quality.

We enjoy a cocktail together and discuss his concept some more. “This is a fun place and apart from fine dining I want to offer a ‘smiley’, happy place for people to hang out,” he says.

“We have a karaoke lounge and what I call ‘The balcony of Patong’ where friends can enjoy the sunset view with one of our four signature cocktails and some ‘French touch’ tapas. I have a passion for fine food and love to look into the eyes of my clients as they taste my creations,” he adds.

Although there is a menu available, I get the impression that Georges has already decided what to prepare for me this evening and he disappears into the kitchen returning with a platter of his famous ‘French touch tapas’.

On the platter are two servings each of beautiful culinary art and we share the tapas together. This really is a case of putting your money where you mouth is as we start with a rich fish soup served in glass to better appreciate the frothy cappuccino-style mousse that he has created on top. This homemade bouillabaisse is the most authentic-tasting French food I have had in Thailand and the same goes for the prawn served with Café de Paris and Champagne sauces and the smoked salmon and cream cheese tapas. Georges looks into my eyes for approval and gets it in bucket loads.

Before coming to Phuket, Georges, who is a member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, worked as executive chef in some of the finest five-star hotels in Switzerland and it shows.

We have moved on to Le foie gras poêlé du Chef (590 baht small/900 baht large) warm, fresh foie gras glazed with tamarind and served with homemade vegetable chips. Divine.

After another affirmative glance from me, Georges returns to the kitchen and the quietly efficient staff clear away the beautiful Versace dishes.

I look around at the intimate, sumptuous setting and, at a nearby table, one of the other guests, also Swiss, catches my eye and we raise our glasses to each other in a silent acknowledgment that we share a love of fine cuisine. The other guest moves over to the white piano and plays us a tune. It’s that kind of place.

There are only five tables available: one table for eight; two tables for six and two for up to four. Georges prefers it this way and as he put it earlier “We are open from 5pm until late – even at midnight I will cook for you. I don’t want too many people as I want to keep the atmosphere and to be able to lavish attention on each customer. If I cant do that well I’d prefer to turn people away.”

In other words reservations are highly recommended, as is the main course that Georges has produced for me tonight: Filet de boeuf, Café de Paris, avec gratin dauphinois au senteur truffe blanche or Beef filet with Café de Paris sauce served with layered potatoes perfumed with white truffle oil. (700 baht small/1,270 baht large).

I am in heaven.

The sauce is divine and Georges explains how he has made it his own. The original Café de Paris sauce is a complex butter-based sauce, the ingredients of which remain a trade secret. Two recipes exist from the original Café de Paris in Geneva which opened in 1907 and Georges was able to obtain one of them. He modified it by removing the heaviness of butter and cream and this has now become his own secret recipe and the press still talk about it. He walks over and drizzles some over my beef.

Menu items comes in two sizes and prices, as Georges wants his guests to leave feeling they have eaten well but are not overfed. He has judged my portion to perfection with just enough fresh vegetables on the side. We wash it down with a New Zealand Pinot Noir from the extensive cellar.

Prices are not excessive but reflect the fact that only the finest imported ingredients are used. Prices are listed without the ten per cent service charge and seven per cent VAT.

There are also set menu options ranging from ‘Silver’ at 1,150 baht, ‘Gold’ at 1,400 baht and ‘Platinum’ at 1,800 baht.

Dessert is a plate of fresh fruit, coconut sorbet and a chocolate covered crunchy cake that was so good I do not even remember what was in it. But I do remember feeling like a VIP.

Le Versace is situated at 206/5-6 Prabaramee Road. There is limited parking in front and valet parking is available. Reservations are recommended at 076 290 492 or 082 448 4887. Visit: leversace.com for more info.

— Marc Mulloy

 

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