As I tottered into the grand estate that is Bambuddha last night – and when I say tottered, I mean literally, in a pair of wedge heels that made me tower over my friend and wonder if this is what life feels like for a supermodel – I couldn’t help but feel like I was visiting a friend from many years ago who was all grown up now – like the cool girl from school who just got cooler with age.
Having been to Bambuddha about oh, I don’t know, a zillion times over the past decade, I’ve seen a lot of subtle changes, and then last year, the final metamorphosis into the amazing restaurant that stands today. My naughty little playmate is now a sexy, sophisticated hostess with the mostess, one I look forward to spending even more time with in the future… I think I have a crush!
We arrived fairly early by Ibiza standards, because I’d left it so late to book we had to take the early bird (that’s 8pm here) special… but the restaurant was packed from the minute we arrived. And given that I got home from Bambuddha l-o-n-g after midnight… well, you know we had an amazing night. Before it all got blurry however, here are a few things that really stuck in my mind…
1. From the minute you arrive, to the minute you leave Bambuddha, there is a never-ending stream of things to stare at. Things, and people, if you’re partial to a spot of people watching (as I have been known to be), but aside from that, I always feel like there is something new to see. A new Buddha, a lusty new artefact, a sleek new painting, a sparkling new chandelier… each experience is different to the next, as things (and people!) catch your eye from different corners of the different temples. It’s like the Mona Lisa of Ibiza…
2. The staff and the service here are truly impeccable. Sure, Bambuddha has always been known as one of Ibiza’s best fine dining destinations (and indeed, deservedly voted the winner in the White Ibiza Readers’ Choice Awards in 2013) but the attention to detail and personal care from each staff member we encountered was warm, friendly, knowledgeable, intuitive and genuine. From the gorgeous girls in pretty little Asian embroidered robes who led us to our table with smiles and nothing-is-a-problem attitudes, even though we’d arrived 25 minutes late (blame August traffic), to the switched on waitress who noticed my companion had ordered a vegetarian meal and took the time to mention that the prawn crackers and bread were served with an olive tapenade that was made with anchovies in case she didn’t eat fish, all the way to the lovely valet who (literally) ran to fetch our car as we left so we didn’t have to wait more than 30 seconds, there is some serious professionalism going on here here. If Bambuddha could open some kind of Ibiza hospitality university in the winter, quite a few other wait staff on the island who could learn a thing or two before returning to Ibiza in 2015.
3. The trademarked MediterrAsian menu is out of this world. Honestly – I have eaten much Mediterranean food, more Thai food than you can find on the streets of Bangkok in one day, have overloaded on sushi in four corners of the world and indulged on Indonesian cuisine like there’s no tomorrow. But there’s nothing quite like fusing all of the above, as only Bambuddha can, and perusing the Bambuddha menu is like traversing the globe in just a few (glossy, gorgeous) pages. The biggest problem of course, is deciding what to order – I count myself as one of the fortunate ones, who has been blessed to visit Bambuddha on many, many occasions, so I have my favourites. On this particular evening, I had a hankering for a curry – the crispy red duck curry to be precise. To me, this has always been like one of the great mysteries of the world – how DO they get the duck so crispy on the outside, and so moist, tender and tasty on the inside? I’ll never know, so I’ll always return to Bambuddha to taste it again, and again. Except for the nights when I want sushi, or a pad Thai, or a spicy Thai soup, or the teriyaki salmon, or the lush Vietnamese chicken… so many more reasons to return!
4. It’s the only place I’ve ever been to with a double toilet cubicle. Just saying. Wacky. It’s always been there and I hope it always will be.
5. It’s always after dinner that the Bambuddha adventures really start to get interesting. As we migrated to the Tantra Cocktail Palace for a signature cocktail (or three), the desire to explore the cave-like Tantra Sex Shop at the very back of the restaurant started to kinkily kick in. Cue: girlish giggling and squeamish squeals of laughter as we perused the wares on display, from whips and feathers to pasties and masks, plus all shapes and sizes of sex toy (the mind certainly starts to wander when you’re looking at some of them – what the? How the? Who the? Is that a cat toy? Ohhhh now I get it!), and some seriously gorgeous lingerie… I couldn’t help but wonder, just how many après-dinner adventures have been kick started in Bambuddha?
Om, namaste and thank you very much indeed!