• 06 Jan - 12 Jan, 2018
  • Mag The Weekly
  • High Life

Luxe Retreat

Ballyfin, County Laois, Ireland

One of Ireland’s most lavish neoclassical houses, Ballyfin stands in its own 614-acre demesne, full of delights, including lake (with a glorious new water feature), water cascade, Victorian fernery, Edwardian rockery and walled garden, not to mention the tower which has panoramic views of the Slieve Bloom mountains from the top. The reception rooms are filled with superb antiques and paintings and there is a classically styled indoor pool and two treatment rooms. Every bedroom is gorgeous, in classic, Irish country-house style. As for the food, it lives up to its surroundings. Guests order from an à la carte, or five or eight-course tasting menu, before proceeding to the elegant State Dining Room. Standards are sky-high; Ballyfin is the sort of place where one jarring note would spoil the show – but it never does. This is one of Ireland’s finest country houses, now restored to life with remarkable grace and reopened as a luxurious hotel. The beauty of the house and its park, and the stratospheric standards of hospitality here make it a truly remarkable place.

Table to book


Among the hoard of Chinese and Pan Asian eateries that have taken over the food market of Karachi, Bam-Bou struggles to make a name for itself. Located at the SMCHS food street, the eatery is at an ideal location with safe and ample parking space but the same could hardly be said about the inside of the restaurant. The tables are too close to one another, to the point that our server couldn’t get to us after the table in front of us and on our left had been occupied. Being seated close to the stairs, my seat would vibrate every time someone went up and down the steps. The courteous staff, a good playlist and complimentary refills of prawn crackers along with sour dip, however, made the experience worthwhile. Serving portions are good and so is the taste in general, which makes food value for money. I started my meal there with Crispy Shrimp Balls; the serving size as well as individual size of the balls are good and the coating is as crispy as it can get, which is what the dish promises, but it is hotter than the prawn balls you might have tried from other restaurants. They are also a bit crumbly on the inside, perhaps because there is more batter in the filling than prawns, and are served with a sweet chilli sauce that tastes amazing with it.

Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken is a thick, glossy gravy-based dish with bite-sized chicken and cubed vegetables that is extremely sweet in taste and has a strong kick of ginger in it. Crispy Tamarind Fish is less sweet and is more bearable to the parate; the combination of soft fish fillets and fried garlic tastes fantastic. The Hunan Beef stood out as a smokey dish tossed with lots of crunchy cabbage; it has mild heat and beef that is juicy. The clear winner of the night was Crispy Fish in Sticky Red Sauce; this must-try item on the list has a crispy coating of fried batter on big pieces of finger fish and is tossed in a healthy amount of sweet chilli sauce. The egg fried rice at Bam-Bou deserves praise separately – they are so aromatic and tasty, you would want to have them on their own. If you are looking for a friendly, cosy place that offers decent food, this is a new place you should add to your list. – SSK

What’s in the menu?

Hainanese Chicken Rice – Singapore

Hainanese Chicken Rice is a dish adapted from early Chinese immigrants originally from Hainan province in Southern China. It is considered as one of the national dishes of Singapore. To make this dish, chicken is prepared in accordance with traditional Hainanese methods, which involve poaching the entire chicken at sub-boiling temperatures. The resulting stock is skimmed off and some of the fat and liquid, along with ginger, garlic (and in the case of Singaporean and Malaysian chicken rice, pandan leaves) is used in the cooking of the rice, producing oily, flavourful rice sometimes known as "oily rice".

Mostly, the dish is served with a dip of freshly minced red chilli and garlic, usually accompanied with dark soy sauce and freshly ground ginger. Fresh cucumber boiled in chicken broth and light soy sauce with a dash of sesame oil are served with the chicken, which is usually served at room temperature. A 100g serving of Hainanese chicken rice provides approximately 207 calories; 7.5g fat, 1.9g of protein, 23g of carbohydrates, 26mg of cholestrol, 337mg of sodium and 133mg of potassium.