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Tre at Banyan Tree: Chef Kreaton elevates and innovates with local produce

Banyan Tree, located in Laguna, is a truly spectacular resort with several highly- rated restaurants, beach frontage, and surrounding saltwater lakes. Tre, its flagship restaurant, will probably be less known to you and tonight, it’s my destination for dinner.

By Chris Watson

Monday 7 January 2019, 11:20AM

I jump on-board a buggy and make my way through pristine grounds of luxury pool villas looking out across manicured lawns and traverse quaint wooden bridges as we head to this paragon of fine dining.

Arriving, I am greeted and accompanied through a charming lounge to the restaurant. The vista is breathtaking. I pause to fully digest the scene; all tables are afforded picture postcard views over an expanse of water towards warmly lit villas dotted along the banks of the lake. In the early evening, the lake is enveloped with an ethereal glow. Located in an attractive wooden Thai pavilion one can dine, semi-indoors or below the stars on an outside terrace at the water’s edge. This is a venue that screams romance!

Presented with the menus, I am greeted by Chef Kreaton Cutajar, who helpfully explains that his style has a western foundation, however ingredients are wherever possible locally-sourced. This philosophy supports Banyan Tree’s core company commitment to protecting and sustaining the environments in which they operate. The goal, to generate the lowest possible carbon footprint. An admirable philosophy in this age of global warming and amid the critical need to take more care of our environment for future generations.

As I discuss my selections with Chef Kreaton, I discover he is half Maltese and half British; in fact, from Essex. He arrived at Tre from renowned restaurants across the globe and has worked with several celebrity chefs including the infamous Gordon Ramsay.

A choice of home-made breads arrives with the typical butter, oil and balsamic offerings, however accompanied more unusually by an eye-popping beetroot dip. Whilst the bright purple colour is self-evident, this humble healthy vegetable has been elevated. Both the smooth texture and earthy flavour of this puree is quite incredible.

Following this, an amuse bouche is brought to the table; yet another surprise. A traditional egg box, labelled free range of course, contains simple eggs filled with a punchy chawanmushi egg custard. It is at this point that I realise I am in for a real treat!

I have chosen to begin with two starters, the first, home-made agnolotti, half-moon shaped pasta containing taleggio cheese in a sauce of truffle butter and dusted with pecorino cheese. The delicate parcels are perfectly cooked with a hint of bite and the filling gives a pleasant fruity tang to the dish. The pasta is coated in a buttery sauce and the cheesy topping gives the dish a slight saltiness which cuts through the richness of the butter.

I follow this with scallops artfully presented with Chiang Mai turnip and a crunchy tonka bean granola adding texture. Truly an excellent beginning.

Should I return soon, a somewhat rhetorical question, I would have no difficulty in choosing other appetisers which equally tempt. There is a Thai blue river prawn served with textures of corn or perhaps an heirloom tomato salad with avocado and caviar. They both sound absolutely lush!

Laguna Golf Phuket

A picture-perfect palate cleanser is brought to the table as I await the main event, however I will keep this to myself so those of you who visit may enjoy the simply stellar surprise!

Main courses follow of a 72-hour braised Wagyu brisket on a bed of polenta with burnt onions and black tea. I opt for side dishes of a truffle potato puree with a decadent texture and crunchy Thai asparagus; this a perfect foil to the wonderfully unctuous beef which literally melts in the mouth. This is a subliminal dish.

Other main dishes, I am confident could also deliver the desired flavour bomb. Earlier, I almost took the plunge for a black cod in a rich and powerful dashi broth or a signature Phuket lobster with Thai ginger. I make yet another mental note that I must return. Tre has in the past closed during the summer-months however I am informed that the management are considering remaining open throughout the year; in case they don’t, heed my recommendation and make a reservation soonest.

Leave room for dessert as they are both highly innovative and inspiring. They range from a Longan flower honey dish married with Chiang Mai almonds to a white chocolate confection scented with Thai dill.

The attentive staff advise me that my chariot awaits and as I depart, reflect on my quite special evening.

There’s clearly no holding this (half) Essex boy back; Tre is his proverbial Ford Sierra Cosworth X4i and should you dine here, which I recommend you do, I have no doubt you will have an elegant experience, whilst traveling at the culinary equivalent of 100 miles per hour. This is good food!

The combination of Chef Kreaton and Tre is a recipe for success.

Chris is a former Michelin Guide Inspector who, following an international career in hospitality spanning 30 years in both the Middle East and Asia, has now settled in Thailand and will contribute a monthly restaurant column.



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