A final night in Penang after four sensational days of street food and snacks, tablecloths and aircon are chosen over plastic stools and fans. Seven Terraces in the heart of Georgetown is a beautiful property. I mean really, really lovely. White walls, carved wooden paneling and doors, Vietnamese floor tiles, the owner’s collection of antique porcelain in display cabinets. If you’ve seen the Governor’s Residence in Yangon or the Metropole in Hanoi then you know the sort of look and feel.
Most of all it’s the ingenious architecture that took seven original Chinese terraced houses and knocked them through into one, creating sixteen rooms and two suites, a small lap pool, bar, long dining room and extensive separate breakfast area.
I was a walk-in but was seated immediately, even though the place was gently buzzing with a throng of contented locals and tourists alike. I kicked off with a mojito and immediately regretted it, having only subsequently seen their special, the ‘Georgetown Cooler’ featuring my new favourite ingredient nutmeg juice alongside Bombay Sapphire, Longan and Grenadine. I needn’t have worried though as the mojito was a cracker, one of the best and most authentic I’ve ever had, that mix of sharp and sweet and mint, as cool as the décor.
I don’t know about lunches, but dinners are a set deal where you choose a starter, main, vegetable side and dessert for 100 MR, about US$30. The wonderfully-named ‘otak otak’ won my vote for the starter and I was rewarded with three round pastries filled with red snapper, garlic and turmeric. It was perfectly-balanced, a delight, all the flavours mentioned coming through, accentuated by the very moreish korma-like creamy and spiced dipping sauce.
The enticing tamarind beef had unfortunately already gone so my second choice was the organic roast pork, cooked sous-vide and served with a hoisin balsamic reduction. Wow. An absolute belter of a dish, the meat perfectly rendered with a crisp and crunchy skin and soft underbelly, the sauce the perfect counterpoint against the rich fattiness. The pianist was playing ‘I love you baby’ and took the words right out of my mouth. Green beans and baby sweetcorn added to the symphony.
Dessert delivered a crescendo to the sweet music in the form of a chocolate fondant with ice cream. I arched an eyebrow when it materialized after less than five minutes but needn’t have bothered with the Sean Connery impersonation as the fondant lived up to its name.
With a glass of Chilean Pinot and very efficient, polite service, the bill came in at 176MR, or about US$40. I’ve rarely spent money so well or enjoyed fine dining as much for this price. Bravo, Seven Terraces – and til the next time.
Stewart Lane, Georgetown, 10200 Penang, Malaysia T:+604-264 2333 http://www.seventerraces.com/