The Athena

My family and I have paid many visits to The Athena for their set lunch. I can distinctly remember my father taking us there for the first time - we were amazed at the value for money that we got and the quality of the food that was served. We continued to visit the restaurant many times afterwards, but stopped a few months ago.

Last week, my parents and I found ourselves at the Pavilion once again, and seeing as we had not tried The Athena in ages, we thought we'd give it another shot. The Athena is located on the Ground Floor, in between La Bodega and Michaelangelo's at The Pavilion on Jalan Bukit Bintang. Our visit this time, however, was completely different from the rest.

Upon taking our seats, it took us 10 minutes for the waiter to come and take our order. We requested for warm water, but the waiter had told us that we were required to pay RM4 for a bottle of mineral water - eventhough other tables were clearly drinking water from the tap. A white lie right there...

For my mains, I had Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Smoked Salmon from the set menu. This was accompanied with with a Cream of Carrot Soup, worth RM19.90. The soup seemed fresh, and was of a nice consistency. The mallow taste left a nice feeling in my mouth, though the bread that it was served with the soup was slightly stale.

The Spaghetti Aglio e Olio was of a generous portion, though the spaghetti on the other hand, was overcooked - not al dente. There was also right amounts of oil and garlic, though way too much salt! The salmon was salty too, and that didn't help either.

I chose a Tiramisu for desert. The tiramisu was firm, with a nice ratio of cream to ladies fingers, and the chocolate that was drizzled onto it was a nice complement. The only downside to this dish was that it was way too small a portion. Before I knew it, I had finished the entire slice, leaving nothing to take a picture of.

My father on the other hand, ordered Chicken a la Pimentos from the set menu as well. He was served with Minestrone Soup as a starter - worth RM21.90. The minestrone soup lacked in flavour and was too cold. It almost tasted like flavoured water. The bread served with this, too, was slightly stale.

The Chicken was tender and the sauce (along with the mustard) complemented it very well. There wasn't, however, much potatoes - which were soft and fluffy, but not well seasoned. As for the vegetables - they were all cooked well, apart from the undercooked carrots.

My dad decided to try the Chilled Marscapone with a Spicy Strawberry Sauce and Balsamic. It was an interesting choice of dessert, with the subtleness of the marscapone, 'spiced up' by the spicy/sweet/tart flavour of the strawberry sauce and balsamic. The dessert, however, was only served 20 minutes after we had all finished our food.

My mother ordered the Seafood Salad from the a la carte menu, worth RM28. This dish was, in metaphorical terms, a big plate of shit - especially when considering the price we paid. It did not look great, and the dish was essentially boiled frozen seafood (yes,the fishy taste was there) on a bed of raw greens, drizzled with olive oil. For RM28,we thought to ourselves…wtf is this?!?

On the whole, it was rather surprising to see such a change in standard. Even though I have my doubts on if I choose to return again, I most probably will - and only then will I be able to make my judgement. Personally, I suggest that you try other places for lunch and save The Athena as a last resort - but in the end, its up to you.

Presentation: 6/10

Ambiance: 6/10

Service: 3/10

Overall Taste: 5/10

General Impression: 4/10





MIGF 2010 @ Neo Tamarind

As a foodie, one of the events that I look forward to the most is the Malaysian International Gourmet Festival. I make it a point every year, to pay homage to two different restaurants. This year however - just like the last, I only had a chance to visit one. I paid a visit to Neo Tamarind, Restaurant & Lux Lounge a week ago with a friend of mine. Neo Tamarind is located along Jalan Sultan Ismail, opposite Equatorial Hotel.

We were treated to a spectacular gastronomic feast, one of which I've never had before. The 6 course menu costed RM155 per person, without wine. The only problem I had was that the surroundings were way too dark for my camera to operate properly. I took a few shots…but gave up in the end. Therefore, I was not able to take a picture of every course served. My apologies.

We while waiting for our feast to begin, we were treated to Warm Bread, paired with Hummus and Tomato Salsa. The hummus was rich in flavour with a hint of lemon, and with the chickpeas gridded to a perfect consistency. The tomato salsa was sweet, with the coriander adding freshness to it.

Then we were served a pair of complimentary appetiser. The appetiser consisted of Crispy Salmon Flakes with Pickled Green Tomatoes, which provided a nice balance of sweet and salty.

Our first course was the Samhadi Rainbow Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons and topped with Truffle Oil, Fine Herbs and a Balsamic Reduction. The different colours of gnocchi had different flavours, respectively. The gnocchi was soft, and its flavour was enhanced by the truffle oil and wild flowers.

Our second course was the Semi-Raw Agent. This dish contained Seared Crusted One Side Tuna Loin topped with Sakura Mix, Red Wine Jelly, and a glass of Wasabi Foam. There was an interesting combination of flavours and textures in this dish, with the sakura mix being crisp, the red wine jelly being soft and sweet, the tuna fish added a smoky flavour and the wasabi foam added a nice kick. The dish, as a whole, tantalised my taste-buds.

Our third course was the Hot Liquid Agent. This dish contained Poached White Cod Loin in Beetroot Broth and Prawns in Marscapone on a Sweet-Corn Coulis, topped with Avocado Oil and Black Ink Salt. The cod loin was well cooked and of a generous portion, though the beetroot juice purely added colour alone, to the fish. The prawns were plump and succulent, and the subtleness of the dish was a nice contrast from the previous course.

Our fourth course was the Hot Flame Agent. This dish contained a Melon-Mint Shooter as its centrepiece, decked with Duck Ribbon and Foie Gras, and a side of Blowtorched Watermelon and Sweet Potato Mash, topped with Orange Salt. The foie gras was pure decadence, though there was too much of orange salt which overpowered everything. The subtleness of the blowtorched watermelon and the melon-mint shooter, however, added some balance to my taste-buds.

Our fifth course was the Hybrid Agent. This dish contained a Cold Seared Scallop coated in Habanero Fish Roe, a serving of Matcha Foam, Grilled Grade 7 Wagyu Beef and a Port Wine Glazed Portobello Terrine. The centrepiece of our dish - the wagyu, was simply amazing - truly melting in my mouth. The dish consisted of a nice combination of hot and cold, though the scallop with fish roe was a bit too fishy for my taste.

Our last course then, was the Sweet Agent, which consisted of a Chocolate Truffle, a Green Tea Doughnut, a Warm Chocolate Cake with Candied Kumquat and a glass of Mocha Foam. The chocolate truffle was unusually cold, though it had a nice texture to it. The green tea doughnut however, was incredibly hard - and the chocolate cake, more hot than warm. The mocha foam truly was divine and on the whole, the dessert was a nice myriad of textures and temperatures.

My experience at Neo for the Malaysian International Gourmet festival was truly an unforgettable one. My palate was treated to a spectacle of amazing textures, flavours, temperatures which in the end - seemed to combine wonderfully into a big and wonderful ensemble of FOOD.

With the exception of the manager being a bit of a bitch (mind the language), and the incredibly dark lighting, I am definitely keen to come back for a taste of their a la carte menu. As for the MIGF experience…

a truly unique one indeed.

Pictures here, courtesy of the Malaysian International Gourmet Festival website.

Presentation: 9/10

Ambiance: 8/10

Service: 6/10

Overall Taste: 9/10

General Impression: 8/10