I arranged for my cousin to pick us up from the apartment at 7pm, which is located in the southeast side of Penang island. I already had in mind where we should go for the night. I read about this place a few months ago in other local foodie blogger sites. They rave about the place and the food. It is certainly different for Penang – a class above the other restaurants. It lifted the standard to rival other nice restaurants in the area with a paradise, resort kind of atmosphere. The place is called Ferringhi Garden Restaurant, located in Batu Ferringhi on northwest of Penang island.
It was quite a drive from where we stayed. It took about 45 minutes to get there. The most interesting part of our trip was the drive itself. It was raining, but not too heavy. My partner and I were a bit unsure about my cousin’s car – his windscreen wipers were crap!! Yeap, and we told him. They hardly wiped the windscreen for a clear night vision on a rainy night. It was very bad and unsafe. My partner and I could hardly see through the front window. But amazing enough, we arrived in one piece in the careful hands of my cousin. The road along Batu Ferringhi is narrow with many sharp corners and turning. A slight miscalculation could end us in the hospital. He promised us that the next time he picks us up, he will have a new wiper. I hope he keeps his word as I am planning to take his family and my family for a dinner next week.
On arrival at The Ferringhi Garden Restaurant, we were taken away by the lush tropical greens of the huge open dining area. It is a large restaurant. The entrance from the car park is stunning and grand that resembles everything about South East Asia. It is dimly lighted, romantic and moody at the same time. I have been to a few places like this in Thailand and Bali, but never have I experienced such a lovely place in Penang.
There are two main entrances. One at the front of the street. The other at the back of the car park. I consider this as the main entrance. The first impression from the car park entrance resonates a cosy and warm ambience – lots of rich, polished timber floors, walls and ceilings with rows of ceiling to floor drapes gathered in the middle, ceiling fans and wooden tables and chairs – that gave the huge long dining room a wonderful Malaysian charm. There are huge doors that open out to outdoor seating surrounded by lush plants, trees, flowers, a long pond with cascading waterfall features.
We were led through the long dining room. On the right is a nice long bar with a large open window exposing part of the kitchen area. It was very well designed. We walked passed the long bar and kitchen to a middle section of another open dining area with some private rooms.
Batu Ferringhi is famous with 5-stars resort hotels; such as, Rasa Sayang, Golden Sand, Lone Pine, Hard Rock Hotel to name a few. It is famous for a night market that stretches along one side of the street of shops and restaurants.
Finally we arrived at our table at the front section of another open dining area, with more outdoor seating surrounded by more plants, trees and flowers. My partner and I were very impressed with everything we saw along our way to our table.
Then came the big menu. And, I mean a really big menu! The menu listed all kinds of food – probably too many. There were fish and chips, pasta, Malay and Chinese dishes, steak and many other choices. I suppose the restaurant is trying to cover every taste for the tourists staying at the hotels along Batu Ferringhi. The price is on the high end of Penang dining scene.
Due to nature of the menu, we ordered a mix of dishes to share – Malaysian beef and chicken satay, seafood cocktail salad with chef’s special dressing, a three way extravagansa of foie gras, beef and fish, lamb chops and a grill and seafood platter.
Our first entrée arrived – the Malaysian satay. This was very good. The beef and chicken were perfectly grilled. The meats were tender and succulent. The creamy peanut satay sauce was divine. It was a great start. We anxiously waited for the next two entrée.
Then came the third entrée – seafood cocktail salad with special sauce. It was a bit disappointing. It was a confused dish. This was probably what I was afraid of when I looked through the huge menu page by page and wondered what is really the theme of this restaurant. It was expected that not all dishes were going to turn out well. This was one of them that didn’t work for me. There were lots of different things going on in this dish. Except for the nice, juicy prawns, the other ingredients were a bad combination and the sauce was a strange creation that tasted like a mayonnaise Malaysian “Rojak” creamy sauce.
Our next two dishes were the mains – my partner ordered the Grill and Seafood platter for two. My cousin ordered the Lamb Chops. Both mains arrived at the centre of our table.
We tried the lamb chop first. Both my partner and I were very disappointed with this dish – the lambs were not grilled properly. They were very undercooked. They lacked flavour. My partner thought the lamb was stale and not fresh. We explained to the staff. The manager politely removed the plate and offered to bring something else or a replacement of the same dish. We opt for a replacement. The second time round I thought the lamb was marinated and grilled better than the first time. However, the lamb itself was not good or fresh. It was a disappointment.
For the other main – the grill and seafood platter, it was a bit of a letdown as well. The scallops, prawns and mussels were good. But, the grilled meat – chicken was over cooked and dry, the steak was tasteless and not fresh, the fish fillet was chewy and tough.
I was determined not to end up with an overly disappointed dinner after a promising start with the stunning look of the restaurant and a wonderful Malaysian satay dish. I had to order a dessert. I looked through the menu once again on the dessert list and ordered the cream brulee.
The dessert arrived. The first sight was it was a beautifully plated dessert. It was colourful with a well matched colour of white, orange and golden hue plated on a white green glazed plate. The top of the brulee was nicely torched into golden crusty bit and the bottom was slightly rich, soft and melted in my mouth. It was a good dessert.
I left the restaurant having a mixed feeling. I suppose it is hard for a large restaurant offering a multitude of dishes to satisfy every walk of life who steps into the restaurant. Fortunately, we had a few good dishes for the night. It was an expensive dinner for Penang standard at MYR$405 (about AUD$136) for the food and MYR$280 (AUD$90) for two bottles of Rymill Yealing 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra, Australia.
After we left the restaurant, we decided to treat ourselves to some fake watches at the night market, or in Malaysia we called “Pasar Malam”. I bought 2 Rolex with a traditional old style look for MYR$200 (AUS$65), to make up for an almost good dinner.
As the name of my post suggest, it is a “dinner in a garden oasis”. The food is either a hit or a miss depends on what you select from the long list of choices in the menu.