By B.C. Ng
It was a Monday afternoon that I received a call from Kakiseni, notifying me that I was tentatively the winner of the New Year’s Eve dinner for two at Alexis Ampang. They would give it to someone else if I were unable to make it. I rushed a call to the boyfriend to see if he was willing to drive us through the madness that is KL, especially on New Year’s Eve. Being allergic to crowds, we had made plans to stay at home for the night. But who could pass up a free 4-course dinner with a glass of Bollinger champagne each and being entertained by jazz music?
After a little discussion of how we would get there, we decided to take the LRT. Of all nights, the ticketing machines had to break down tonight. But it was a blessing in disguise as there were very few people on the platform – most were still queuing to buy tickets from the booth (and when I say most, what I really mean is half of Klang Valley). Jeffrey of Alexis Ampang was helpful enough to give me directions to the Great Eastern Mall. 18 stops later, we emerged unscathed and barely breathing and began on the supposedly ten minute walk to the mall. Yeah, supposedly.
Finally reaching a little later (albeit much sweatier) than planned, we were shown to our table. Hungry and thirsty, we quickly made our pick of starters, main course and dessert. Never having eaten at Alexis ever before although I’ve lived in PJ all my life (I hear you scream “I don’t believe it!”), I found the food – which arrived quite promptly- to be rather tasty. I was very impressed by the Varlhona Chocolate Pudding which was extremely moist and went very well with the vanilla ice cream.
Somewhere between when the soup ended and the main course started, the David Gomes Quartet began to play an instrumental song (by Duke Ellington if my memory serves me correctly). Lights were dimmed inside the restaurant leaving candles on each table to illuminate the room. Right about now you’re thinking, ahh how romantic. Well, the setting was almost right. Spotlights outside the restaurant shone through the glass panels behind the quartet as if a UFO had landed in the backyard.
Being only a very recent jazz listener, I was unable to recognize each song played although they were all a pleasure to listen to. The boyfriend and I particularly enjoyed listening to the saxophonist who had quite a part to play in each song. We were impressed with his ability to dominate and complement the music appropriately.
David’s piano playing (maybe it was a keyboard, we couldn’t see) was exquisite. He particularly shone in his solos. Among the songs that stood out during the first set were David’s own rendition of Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ and later his wife, Junji Gomes’ covers of Norah Jones’ ‘Cold Cold Heart’ and Diana Krall’s ‘Peel Me a Grape’.
We wanted to avoid the LRT crowd from the KLCC stop so we decided not to stay for the countdown and left after the quartet’s first set. With the free party packs in our hands, we left Alexis looking like clowns after being allowed to take along with us the red and black balloons used to decorate each table. Our master plan of avoiding the mass crowd was far from foolproof: there were problems with the Pasar Seni stop and so the LRT stopped for about an extra five minutes at each stop preceding it. We ended up having our countdown inside the LRT – which I found rather ironic since I had started the evening by telling the boyfriend that the last thing I wanted was precisely that. We had a good laugh over how unexpected the night turned out on the way home.
Call us cheapskates (I prefer the term financially efficient) but how many of you spent your New Year’s having shelled out under RM 20 for the entire night? Much thanks to Kakiseni and Alexis Ampang for a memorable New Year’s Eve (although perhaps the next time you could throw in arranged transport of some sort?). (Ed- I’ll throw in transport if you will take me as your date…)
First Published: 15.01.2004 on Kakiseni