Sunday, 9 March 2014

Marini’s on 57 – Fulamak, damn 7 atas

Level 57, Menara 3 Petronas, Persiaran KLCC, 50088, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Lady Fartsalot took me to this super high-end Italian place for my birthday this year, and I must say everything is exceedingly atas about this place: its altitude above sea level, the standard of service, and prices so stratospheric they’ll give you a nosebleed… and then probably a coronary for good measure.

The feeling that I am entering a totally unfamiliar world began when we arrived at the ground floor of Petronas Tower 3.

I didn’t even know the Twin Towers had a runt of a little brother.
(Image stolen from

There were two people at the ground floor reception to greet us. Then a few more to point us toward the lift – which had a ceiling higher than the ones in most homes I’ve been to. Yep – even their elevator is more atas than others. Then we arrive on level 57 and a whole TEAM was there just to greet us. I think I counted more than 10 people whose only job seemed to be to stand around in suits looking smart and saying hello and goodbye to customers.

 We had a table by the window, and the view during sunset was really quite spectacular. 
(Image stolen from their website) 

Our server introduced herself and her partner – there would be two of them taking care of us that evening. I was about to tell her that we are very low-maintenance customers and would not require this much attention when the breads arrived. There were about 5 varieties but our favourite were the crispy, wafer-thin ones.

They're the ones in the middle of the basket - crispy and nicely seasoned, they make perfect snacks for movie night.

We ordered based on our server’s recommendations, and were settling down to enjoy the view when suddenly a bonsai-looking plant landed on our table in a pot with two furry-looking green fruits attached. It was explained that this was a complimentary appetiser from the kitchen. The ‘fruits’ were fried kalamata olive snacks coated with parmesan and basil powder. It was nice and crumbly, tasting strongly of olives with a nice touch of parmesan.

I believe this is called an amuse bouche in French cuisine – I certainly found this whimsical presentation highly amusing.

Next, came the starter we ordered to share: two big, juicy scallops, lightly seared and still raw in the middle, resting on a celeriac puree and liberally sprinkled with sea asparagus and black truffle shavings. The scallops were plump, sweet and luxurious – probably my favourite seafood next to uni – and I regret cutting dainty bites instead of just popping the whole thing into my mouth.

This dish also gave me my first real taste of truffles. It’s nice to finally know what all the fuss is about.

Lady Fartsalot’s main was angel hair pasta with Maine lobster tail in tomato sauce. Obviously, everything was perfectly cooked, and the tomato sauce had a rich, smooth, creamy seafood flavour.

We wiped the plate so thoroughly with bread, the dishwasher probably wondered why they brought him a clean plate.

For my main, I ordered cod, cooked 3 ways. I was told I should eat the dish from left to right – so that’s how I’ll describe it.

Well, looking at it from this angle, it's bottom to top.

We begin with strips of cod tripe in a rich, slightly spicy seafood bisque that tasted quite strongly of lobster. The texture was chewy and gelatinous – which may be a bit of a challenge for some but which I happened to like.

Yes, I mopped up the sauce in this one, too.

In the middle, a cod mousse, which was not the pureed cod that I had imagined. Rather, there were pieces of salty cod meat in a buttery, porridge-like substance. Somehow, the term 'grits' came to mind when tasting this - though I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted grits before in my life.

Cod porridge would probably have been a more accurate description.

Finally, there was a chunk of perfectly seared cod, with firm, juicy flesh and tasty, crispy skin. This rests in a humongous bowl amid a thick puree that tasted like green peas.

The bowl probably cost more than what I spend on food in a week.

Finally, our shared dessert arrived – a breathtaking geometric sculpture constructed from about a dozen different kinds of chocolate and chocolate mousse. There was chilli in some of the chocolate pieces, and a refreshing orange sorbet plus sour berries to cut the richness and sweetness.

Sharp, precise, beautiful and a little intimidating as well. We almost didn’t want to eat it.

We were stuffed but the meal didn’t end there. There were freebies galore.

The first was a complimentary dessert: little sweet cakes that were soft but chewy.

We wondered if they’d let us take the tin, but we decided not to risk it.

Next, another free dessert: four cubes of chocolates made by the kitchen. They all had different flavours, and we were told to guess what they were. We thought they tasted remarkably similar. One of them probably had some chamomile tea in it but we weren’t sure.

We failed this taste test rather miserably.

And last, breakfast! Yes, they packed us one complimentary croissant each for breakfast the next day.

Complete with reheating instructions, too.

What a meal! The food was good, obviously. The service, great, if a little over-attentive (we were asked about 5-6 times how everything was – is the chef that insecure about his cooking?). The view, breathtaking. The bill, even more so: a whopping RM711, and no, we’re not missing any decimals.

Was it worth the price? Based on the food alone, probably not. But I guess we have to factor in the swarms of service staff they have, the L’Occitane toiletries in the bathroom and especially the telepath waiting outside the bathroom door for Lady Fartsalot to come out, who knew to open the door just as she was reaching for the handle.

Overall, this meal was perhaps a little too atas for me – I certainly felt out of my depth trying to describe some of the stuff we ate. But what did make this experience truly special for me was being there with the love of my life, who thought I deserved all this lavishness and more.

Bite-sized review
Super-atas Italian place at KLCC – with an amazing view and very high-end food, service and prices. No walk-ins – reservation only, and a strict dress code… so they’re kinda snooty as well.

Price: Very high. RM711 for a meal for two.
Restaurant – Mondays to Thursdays, 7:00pm-11:00pm | Fridays to Sundays, 6:30pm to 12:00am
Bar – 7 days a week, 5:00pm till late
Lounge – Mondays to Saturdays, 3:00pm till late
Dress code: Strictly smart
Reservations: Required for the restaurant, no walk-ins (they recommend to reserve 2 weeks in advance for Fridays to Saturdays, and 1 week in advance for other days) – walk-ins possible for Bar and Lounge