Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Flee the food, head for the bar

Bartenders shake up cocktails at Yangon's Escape gastro pub.Bartenders shake up cocktails at Yangon's Escape gastro pub.

The exact address of Escape gastro pub is a mere formality. The cars in the parking lot and clusters of lingering drivers leave no doubt that you’ve arrived at the newest spot of choice for Yangon’s young, well-heeled set.

The two-storey venue is filled with female patrons sipping designer cocktails with ingredients like Earl Grey-infused gin, alongside their male counterparts who appear to have gleaned their sartorial inspiration from Psy’s “Gangham Style” video.

First the positive: The service is mostly excellent. Whether a hopping Friday night or a laid-back Wednesday dinner, a patron never has to wait for a table, and the black t-shirt clad staff place themselves strategically around the room so that any and all requests are answered promptly.

Food and drink are also brought out in a timely fashion, although one may be left wishing the kitchen took a few extra minutes, but more on that later.

As far as atmosphere, Escape straddles the line between night club and restaurant in ways that are not always smooth, especially for diners seated later in the evening. Low lighting makes for a romantic atmosphere, but this is somewhat undercut by speakers pumping club hits at volumes that make intimate chats difficult.

The outdoor seating area is the best option for dining, as it offers a break from both the music and the maniacally cold air-conditioning. Hookahs are also available with a variety of sisha flavours.

The restaurant’s menu takes a try at some daring recipes but largely falls flat. The nachos are nothing more than a small serving of Doritos chips and watery salsa. The dried mutton appetiser was a greasy disappointment. The kitchen’s single highlight was the chicken with Thai spices. A perfectly crisp serving with lemongrass was almost enough to make one forget the previous dishes.