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PHUKET: Good food and relaxation are what Sundays are all about. The Sunday Tapas lunch at Banyan Tree Phuket provides this and more. This weekly event is about a three hour affair, which starts at noon and replaces the resort’s Sunday Seafood Brunch.

The ambience at the newly relocated ‘The Watercourt’ complements the meal, a live jazz band, a view of a lagoon and friendly, attentive servers.

The meal begins with a variety of ‘cold tapas’ including sushi, sashimi, salmon and asparagus frittata and, my personal favorite in the category, a prawn, avocado and chili ceviche. The tapas were served with a variety of sides, including hummus and marinated stuffed olives. And, of course, you must try the chef’s recommendation, pata negra – cantaloupe wrapped in ham.

“The meal is designed so that guests can relax at their tables rather than having to go serve themselves like you do at a buffet,” says Michelle Alejo, Assistant Manager at Banyan Tree.

By the time we were done with our first course, I was already feeling full. Tapas are traditionally considered finger food and served in small portions, but these elaborate, sophisticated dishes are a far cry from finger food.

“By the time you’re finished with dessert and coffee, I doubt you’ll have room for dinner,” Ms Alejo says through a smile.

The second course, hot tapas, was just as impressive as the first. Specialties included fine de claire oysters, seared and glazed foie gras, banana leaf steamed seabass, zucchini-stuffed ricotta with parmesan, fish cakes with sweet chili sauce and falafel with yogurt mint dip, to name a few. This was followed by the wonderfully diverse main tapas, including lemon and garlic chicken sous vide, snow fish, rice noodles and angus rib eye with chimchurri sauce and potato wedges.

There is also a rather unique way to ‘take a break’ if you feel too full to carry on eating.

“You can place a little white flag [that the restaurant provides at each table] to indicate that you don’t wish to be served just then. Three other flags – blue, red and green – indicate that you’re ready for your cold tapas, hot tapas and main tapas respectively,” says Ms Alejo.

For me, the most appealing aspect of the meal was the diversity of the cuisine – Mediterranean, Spanish, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Thai and Western, to name a few. This is not surprising, given the star-studded cast working behind the scenes. Executive Chef Alfonso De La Dehesa from Spain, Executive Western Sous Chef Kreaton Cutajar from Malta, and Executive Thai Sous Chef Pittaya Suppanarm have worked at some of the world’s best five-star hotels, resorts and restaurants and bring unique elements of their own experiences and cultures to the table.

Guests can also enjoy lagoon activities (weather permitting), neck and shoulder massages and a kids’ corner to keep children happily occupied while parents dine in comfort.

Prices start at 2,000 baht net (food only), 2,500 baht net (food and unlimited beer, soft drinks and a selection of cocktails), 3,000 baht net (food and unlimited White Sangria) and 3,500 baht net (food and a bottle of champagne per couple). Dilmah tea, coffee and dessert are included.

For more information, call the Banyan Tree Food and Beverage Concierge at 076-372400, ext 5463.

— Sahar Aftab Paliwala