Farquhar Mansion

Special thanks to Farquhar Mansion for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Located across Lebuh Farquhar from Eastern & Oriental Hotel is Mission Place, a historical building that has been restored extensively. At present, the building is the premises for Farquhar Mansion Fine Dining & Lounge, one of the most exclusive fine dining restaurants in Penang.
The 2-floor building contains many annexes which serve to provide dining areas with varying degrees of privacy. Dining tables are flanked by classy chairs with comfortable upholstery. Soft yellow lighting provide the necessary ambience to indulge in a meal of exceptional prestige.
One section of the upper floor is decorated with hundreds of artwork. Paintings and sculptures of various sorts cover nearly every surface on the wall and ceiling. Artwork ranges from classical Victorian pieces to those that reflect modern popular culture.
If Farquhar Mansion were not a restaurant, one would be inclined to think that it is an art gallery. Each perspective of this marvelous provides a completely different sense of visual fulfillment. It is not surprising for artistically-attuned individuals to immerse themselves for hours on end.
Every corner of Farquhar Mansion is fitted with intricate furniture and decorative accessories. Emphasizing in classical nostalgia and elegance, the restaurant satiates the sense of sight even before food reaches the table.
Not many restaurants in Penang can justify the cost of operating a wine cellar, yet Farquhar Mansion is one of the exclusive few. As the cellar here is not built underground as in temperate countries, temperature and humidity levels need to be regulated carefully so that the wines retain their exceptional quality.
Fine dining revolves around the chef's artistic expression of food. The latest menu takes Cinq Philosophy as its guiding principle as the meal takes its course through different facets of gastronomical qualities. "Cinq" means "five" in French. The five elements in Cinq Philosophy are:
- Pure: simplicity, presenting ingredients in their most original form
- Texture: different facets of mouthfeel on the lips, tongue and palate
- Flavor: ability to use contrasting yet complementing tastes to stimulate the palate
- Terroir: earthy and climatal influences on the quality of crops
- Classic: originality, truthful to the acceptable norms of classical cuisine
The course meal is preceded by Amuse-Bouche, where each piece reflects the nature of crops from Chablis, Burgundy. In Chablis, the river Serein nourishes surrounding soil with aquatic characteristics, resulting in an intricate assimilation of earthy and marine elements.
The cod ball is filled with Béarnaise sauce, one of the classical sauces in French cuisine. Tender sections of cod belly are combined with potato noodle, reflecting the marriage of aquatic and earthy ingredients. The ball is topped with red salmon roe for the salty appeal.
The next piece is dehydrated salmon skin that is filled with tapenade. The presence of anchovies in tapenade provides oily sensation in the mouth. The salmon skin is garnished with herbs aioli and black sturgeon caviar.
The third piece is baked potato puff that is aptly stuffed with anchovies, black olive and cream. Once again, this reflects the unique qualities of crops in Chablis. As for garnish, microgreens are used for aesthetic appeal.
The course meal commences with Mushroom Terroir. Drawing heavily from a variety of soil-derived ingredients, earthy flavors are combined to present a unique sense of succulent gratification.
The cornerstone of this dish is portobello mushroom. Summer truffle oil is used accentuate, but not to supplant, the former's savoriness. Onion confit serves to round off with a different approach to the earth element. The mushroom is also covered with asparagus and butterfly-pea flower.
The course meal brings me to Foie Gras Flavour. The spotlight is cast upon the delectable piece of goose foie gras, a delicacy immensely exquisite that it melts spontaneously upon contact with the mouth. Foie gras is paired with port wine emulsion, derived with red wine produced in northern Portugal.
The lovely piece of foie gras is served over orange brioche, a bread rich with butter and egg. A light sprinkle of sea salt is a reminder of maritime elements. Finally, apple chutney and butterfly-pea flower are served on the side.

Next up, Broccoli Espuma is a unique soup which plays heavily on molecular gastronomy. Microfoam is injected into broccoli soup using an espuma gun. This results in a soup with light and bubbly sensation on the mouth, entirely absent of any surfeiting creaminess.
Broccoli Espuma is infused with béchamel sauce, one of the mother sauces of French cuisine. Also essential is leek that is air-dried using a dehydrator. A dehydrator extracts moisture without causing oxidation; the latter is often associated with "toasty" sensation. Finally, the soup also includes oyster which is gratinéed with grated cheese.

Moving to the main course, the menu offers 6 choices that include both red and white meats. My choice this evening is Chilean Cod (RM258.00), a piece of cod fillet that is pan-fried to right doneness. The fillet is flavored with lentil soup and yuzu sauce.
On the side of cod fillet is an assortment of summer vegetables such as baby corn, sun-dried tomato, sweet pea and lotus root. Chives and butterfly-pea flower serve as garnish.

Another choice of fish is Half-Grilled Trout (RM228.00). Trout is similar in appearance and texture to salmon. The trout fillet is glazed with soy sauce, then topped with salmon caviar for good measure.
Like other dishes, plating is an important aspect in French cuisine. Arranged on the side of the trout are shimeji mushrooms, quail egg, lotus root, mashed potato and sweet pea. Once again, butterfly-pea flower is used for aesthetic appeal.
Premier Australian Lamb Rack (RM258.00) is another dish not to be trifled with. With meat derived near the ribs, the lamb has a balanced combination between lean and fatty tissues. Lamb jus is poured over the rack of lamb, sealing in the lamb's meaty goodness. Chunks of roasted beetroot also add to flavor.
As tempting as the lamb may be, a piece of beef cheek ravioli steals some spotlight away. This Italian dumpling is filled with tender cheek muscles of cows. As a meat-centric dish, it is essential to have green vegetables to serve as counterbalance. This includes lotus root, mashed potato, yellow squash, shimeji mushrooms and cabbage.
Mainstream carnivores can also indulge in the Black Angus Tenderloin (RM288.00) which is cooked to medium doneness. Served with savory beef jus and caramelized onion jam, the beef steak remains in good hands.
Laid on the side are vegetables like spinach, sweet pea, sun-dried tomato, lotus root, baby corn and cabbage. These vegetables are flavored with potato cream - not too viscous in order to avoid overwhelming the palate with its starchy creaminess. The Black Angus Tenderloin also includes a piece of beef cheek ravioli.
Should guests prefer, the waiting crew at Farquhar Mansion can offer advice on wine pairing. One of the wines that I sampled tonight is Ochagavia Silvestre Chardonnay. Derived from white grapes that are cultivated in the Rapel Valley of Chile, the glass of full body Chardonnay is coupled with subtle aspects of fruity flavors. Wines are ordered separately and are not included in the price of the Cinq Philosophy course meal.
With the main course behind us, the Cheese Platter comes into picture. Brie cheese is prized for its soft, creamy texture. Meanwhile, blue cheese is characteristically recognizable through spots of bluish mold that litter the cheese in its entirety. Also included are dried apricot and grapes, as well as fig jam to go with thin slices of crispy bread.
As for desserts, the theme of the platter is Mango. At the center of the bowl is mango coconut cheesecake that has been made into foam using an espuma gun. Placed in the emulsion are cut pieces of mango panna cotta and Parmesan crisps. Along the edges are pieces of mango compote covered with gold leaf, and Häagen-Dazs mango sorbet.
Farquhar Mansion's Cinq Philosophy course meal is only available for dinner (6:00pm-10:00pm). As per common practice, the menu will be revised after several months to reflect the arrival of autumn. Finally, it is worthwhile to note that the food menu at Farquhar Mansion is entirely pork-free.
Name: Farquhar Mansion Fine Dining & Lounge
Address: 33, Lebuh Farquhar, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 019-528-8933
Business hours: 12:30pm-1:00am
Website: http://farquharmansion.com
Coordinates: 5.42306 N, 100.33474 E
Directions: Driving eastward along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, follow the road as it curves left to Lebuh Farquhar. Mission Place is located on the right. Farquhar Mansion is the main building in the compound. There are parking spaces within its compound.

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