The new Parkroyal on Pickering is colossal. A foyer rises a few stories to a ceiling of wavy inverted terrace in cream, gray, slate and sepia, the upper side of which becomes a podium that elevates the hotel blocks with yet more slender pillars. Forest canopies and shrubbery overrun every possible corner of the facade and it could well fit the vision of a post-apocalyptic city fortress. If you take my word for it, by apocalypse, I actually meant global warming – the new Parkroyal Hotel along Pickering road is a BCA Green Mark Platinum Award recipient. And the hotel’s international buffet at Lime Restaurant seems to share its vibes.
Lime Restaurant, in looks, is not a foreign body like most hotel restaurants. The design focus is roughly the same, albeit reassembled: mirrors as walls, for light and heat scattering, in tetris-like Mondrian; fibreglass and teak counter tops; walls of blond wood strips in similarly terraced bands. Against the woven seats and the floor-to-ceiling glass exterior, the restaurant feels cavernous. Move to the bar and the mood feels slightly subterranean. If you prefer lounging, the sofas are right behind the buffet stretch. There are no partitions or delineation and the space does not feel disjointed in any way.
In fact, no one seems to stick out in any way, even the odd hotel guest who orders a la carte quietly in a corner. And strangers are equally game to share tables at the longer communal tables at the chacuterie table or the dessert table.
Most other times, a garden or greenhouse should be what you’re getting. Starters surround a portion of a rectangular counter top in the centre aisle. Split-headed spotlight stands line the table, punctuated by pots of terragon, basil and bell papers. This is where you will find a humble selection of bread (densely packed with carbs but not as much flavor) and cheese – the cheddar-friendly Comte, a delectable semi-soft Tomme de Savoie, and the Kikorangi, a slightly astringent blue cheese.
The salad mix leaves you with parts that could only conjure a caesar’s salad in a big wooden bowl. (You wonder, why not pick fresh from the pots?) Only their dressings make a difference and among them, give the Lime, Pesto, or Sherry Vinegar a go.
But they more than appease with their ready-mix salads, especially with attempts at sidestepping banality. Baba Ganoush, roasted egg plant undergone brief blitzing, is smooth and creamy with a hint of tartness. Thai Pomelo Salad was almost all pomelo, dressed up with lime, fish sauce, coriander and shallots, while of the same heritage is the Thai Mango Salad, yearning for some crunch from peanuts or shrimp. Kimchi Salad was really as it is, just with the wongbok cabbaged snipped up and Potato Salad is mostly mustard and mayo. The only non-vegan friendly salad present was the Peking Duck Salad. The skin is limp, expectedly, but the meat tender and bright from the dressing.
The Chacuterie boards are good too. Pick a wedge of very-ripe Cantaloupe to go with either Air-dried Beef (pliant tissues of cured meat) or Pork Salami (polka dots of lipids are pretty wondrous). There is also, Smoked Salmon, a little more heavily salted than gradvalax though. Look behind them though, where jars of grilled peppers, eggplants and zuchhinis are kept in olive oil. These pickled treasures pack a great dose of smoke.
Lime’s kitchen is not so much a theatre as a matter of practicality. They are much less showy but never less attentive. Over at the fresh seafood station, the usual Salmon and Tuna Sashimi rest on chilled slabs. Uneven slicing can be forgiven in view of the abundance of salmon belly and a variety of cuts and the sukemono (Japanese pickles) in the buckets nearby. Bowls of Soba already soaked in broth with a quail egg half are comforting. The noodles resist soaking well enough.
Seafood here comes racked on an ice rampart, piked with pieces of driftwood. The Canadian Oysters are small but as they say, rather sweet. Just be careful with the occasional bits of sand (karma might have to do with it). There are also Tiger Prawns, Clams, and Mussels, all fresh and good.
The mains are all about the meat. Lamb Shank has a deep nutty stew. The meat has parted ways with the bones, puzzingly, as they fall short of being off-the-bone tender. The Braised Chicken Chasseur was much more yielding in texture. The sauce, while not as rich, was reasonably complex with a tomato base that bubbles with the heat from the induction plates.
It is easy to be please with the proper doneness of cooked meat at Lime. Fish is often the worst offender but not the squares of Parrot Fish Meuniere in a semi-opaque sauce, smooth and moist.
And of course, the Roast Beef Strip Loin is there as always. It is not propped up on a pedestal with someone to slice it, so you get to do your own portioning. The condiments are promising, more catered to classic French or English proclivities and not throwing out more countless bips of mayos and tar tar – horseradish is good, as is the wholegrain and normal mustard.
Pasta comes ala- minute at a station with 3 types of pasta (tagliatelle is the most versatile) and 3 sauces (mushroom cream, tomato and bolognese). Nothing is new or excitable but it should quell one’s cravings.
More interesting is a station that evokes seafood Zi Char. You grab squids, clams, mussels, prawns, lettuce and request for them to be wok-fried in either Sambal Chili, Kung Po Sauce or with Ginger and Spring Onions. All were done swiftly and you will get your bowl of flavorsome seafood with a texture that improves upon cooking (the mussels were better than the chilled cousins two tables away). The Sambal was especially bold and tasty, despite a reined-in amount of heat.
Try the Steamed Grouper in Superior Soya Sauce too. It was clear and light. Go for the Tandoori Chicken if you want something more robust. Yes, there is no tandoor and thus no charred bits, but the yogurt marinade is punchy and the meat itself retains its bit of moisture.
The wok was put to good use as the Sweet and Sour Pork was meaty and moist. The soggy batter is a pity considering a balanced vinegar-and-tomato sauce.
A station dedicated to Deep-fried Sliced Fish Rice Noodles seem a little under- utilised. One wonders if more variation could have been given in this area.
The dessert table is obscured from the other stations. It is the first the table that meets you as you walk into the restauarant, a palette of pastel hues huddling with yet more herbs and plants. Pies and tarts are the template for them, or so it seems. A fresh Fig Tart had a shallower dish of pastry. You would instantly forgive the lack of sugar and honey on the fact alone that the fruit is such a rarity. The ubiquitous Peach Tart is the underachieving sibling without having to be next to it; once you pick off the pick slices, what remains is almost an inch of pastry. Nothing else.
You will have better luck finding more fruits in the Cherry Tart, better thought of as a crumble, which aided in adding texture and butter to an otherwise plain base.
One cake was the dense and buttery Orange Pound Cake, glazed and crowned with fruits. The Linzer Torte was a fluffier version of the pound cake, decorated with almonds and a jelly glaze but without the usual pastry lattice.
Interestingly, a large Paris-Brest was there, a crown of open pate choux engorged with praline buttercream. Think of it as cream puff with whipped cream and a hint caramel.
Creme Brulee really follows the same vein of excellence as the vanilla sauce. Just don’t bother looking for crisp sugar on top. The Strawberry Compote is so unlike it, stiff and neither tart nor creamy.
Ice cream came only in 2 flavors but both had a thick texture. They were a little heavy-handed with the vanilla seeds for the Vanilla Ice Cream while Raspberry Sorbet had a nice candy tone owing to a dash of liquer.
And yet another surprise was Green Tea Chocolate Fountain. It was such a refreshing change and it makes one so grateful for not having another bout of coating chocolate. And by now, you know they worship green – a mint-colored Lime Marshmallow that thankfully evoked lime and not detergent. It was hard to show restraint towards this little gem. There are fruits too, for downing the green tea chocolate.
Lime’s offerings are tight and concise for a buffet. It seems to be a source of control over quality. For whatever it lacks in opulence, it makes up for it in substance. As part of the Pan Pacific group of hotels, Lime is another product of their vast experience, international in outlook but grounded in Asian staples.
Mondays to Saturdays, Lunch- $45.00++
Sunday Brunch- $88.00++ or $128.00++ with wine- pairing
Mondays to Sundays, Dinner- $58.00++
Many thanks to Lime Restaurant for the invited tasting.
Parkroyal on Pickering
3 Upper Pickering Street
Contact Number: 6809 8899
Mondays to Sundays, 12.00pm till 2.30pm and 6.30pm till 10.30pm