THE CORNER TABLE Grand view, pity about the food
Agnes, a French restaurant in the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel, must be one of the most expensive dining options in Yangon. But does this upscale eatery serve fine food worth the elaborate bill it presents to customers at the end of a culinary evening?
The decor at Agnes is kitschy, with painted golden swirls decorating the walls against a backdrop of scenic Kandawgyi Lake and the shimmering Shwedagon Pagoda. The atmosphere is romantic and, frankly, a bit awkward. As is the service. Chilled red wine is a basic mistake one doesn’t expect a refined restaurant to make. The same can be said for stale bread served with butter in plastic packets. Perfectly fine at your regular restaurant, but not at an upscale fine dining joint boasting French cuisine of the highest standard.
We decided on the set menu. But before that we tried another main: rack of lamb. The lamb arrived in a timely manner. It was dry, though, and there was even a hint of unpleasantness bordering on meat gone rancid.
The set menu was a hit and miss affair. The amuse of fresh white tuna carpaccio with bergamot was delicate and tasty. Less so was the fennel and apple soup, a watery substance struggling with an identity crisis. The beef tenderloin main came with passable but flat risotto and mustard sauce, according to the menu. The latter was not evident on the plate.
At this point we were longing for the journey home, but before we could reach for our coats the dessert arrived. It was advertised as a passion fruit pannacotta with coconut ice cream. Our misery deepened when the coconut ice cream exhibited a taste similar to that of truffles and the pannacotta combined the heavy texture of cheesecake with a soggy bottom that lacked even the slightest hint of crunch.
It was a homely gesture to be offered a complimentary plate of three small desserts, but we had to terminate gustatory reciprocation after encountering a cherry of disconcerting texture that was obviously way past its expiry date. We returned this offending piece of fruit to the delicate glass cup in which it was served. A mushy macaroon further alienated us. Was this yet another leftover of yesterday’s crop?
The tea or coffee that was supposed to round off the set menu failed to materialise.
The view was superb and the decor, although kitschy bordering on the hilarious, was fine but the food at Agnes was a big disappointment. We don’t expect culinary excellence in a former backwater destination that has yet to recover from fifty years of military rule, but when we say shin-me and are presented with a bill of $127 for two meals and one glass of wine, we expect certain standards to apply. In this case we would’ve have been better off spending K2,500 on rice, whet tha hin and condiments at Danupyu Daw Saw Yee on 29th Street.