Speakeasy at the Melia Braco Resort Part 1

Thursday, March 16, 2017

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Last Saturday, members of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s oldest international gastronomic society, checked into the Melia Braco Resort in Trelawny to attend "Speakeasy" hosted inside the 876 Prime Restaurant where hosts Maitre hotelier Dimitris Kosvogiannis, Melia’s general manager, and Executive Chef Frederick Gayle promised a memorable evening.

What is a Speakeasy?

Between 1920 and 1933, the USA had outlawed the manufacturing, sale, and transportation of all beer, wines, and spirits in an attempt to reduce crime and drunkenness. The plan backfired as during this period of prohibition thousands of hidden or disguised illegal bars known as speakeasies (named because one was not to talk about these places publicly, but rather ‘talk very softly’, or speakeasy, so as not to alert the authorities) popped up all over North America. Some reports say that there were twice the number of establishments illegally selling alcohol than what legally existed before and, ironically, gang activity and crime skyrocketed during this time.

Guests were ushered in by male models sporting a Chippendales look to a lounge area for cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres ahead of dinner and mingled freely with the hotel’s general manager Dimitris Kosvogiannis — who, ever the showman — regaled guests with the promise of ‘forbidden treats’ they would savour in a secret restaurant led to only by his ‘Gatsby Girls’ as they (the guests) would be blindfolded.

Once inside the restaurant the lights were turned on to reveal beautifully laid-out tablescapes, which was an apt indication of the wonderful surprise-filled evening ahead.

Our host Kosvogiannis welcomed guests once more before asking the property’s Executive Chef Frederick Gayle to outline the evening’s menu. Gayle ably supported his general manager on the lengths that had to be undertaken to prepare the evening’s fare, such as procuring the ostrich loins directly from South Africa and sending employees to procure the Waygu beef tenderloin in Miami. All this made for a light and amusing evening.

And the menu that was placed before us did not initially seem that impressive, until Chef Frederick Gayle announced the first dish — Savoy Coconut, Lobster, Corn Crème Brûlée — that was certainly not what was listed! It was at this juncture that we were were instructed to peel off a strip of paper, revealing what we would actually be served. This surprise continued for the entire eight courses.

The reviews midway the eight courses were all of praise especially for the savoy coconut lobster with corn crème brûlée.

The superb service delivered by the waitstaff did not go unnoticed with many acknowledging their precision timing and efficacy.

As is customary with dinners of this nature, each course was paired with its own wine. The great thing with these wines is that most are widely available in the retail trade, so patrons can easily buy a few of their favourites. This list included: a charming William Fevre Chablis (France), the zesty aromatic Mudhouse Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), a very lively Banrock Station Moscato (Australia), The Fresh Juicy Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz (Australia), a clean Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio (Italy), the very approachable well-balanced Meiomi Pinot Noir (California), the rare, rich, sweet and very delicate Inniskillin Gold Vidal Ice Wine (Canada). My favourite for the evening was the very refreshing Mudhouse Sauvignon Blanc.

The musical styling of Ana Strachan and Rory Frankson, accompanied by saxophonist Jean Pierre Perez, violinist Caleb and Joshua Clarke on both trumpet and keyboard, found favour with all and was as sweet and seamless as the wine pairings for each dish.

Christopher Reckord — Information Technology Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to creckord@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram @chrisreckord and on Twitter: @Reckord






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