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PICTURE, if you will, English ladies in long, flowing muslin dresses walking in the manicured grounds of Suffolk House 200 years ago, parasols held aloft to protect their fair skin against the blazing tropical sun.

This may well have been the scene at the ?Great House of Penang? built in 1805 by William Edwards Phillips on what was once a pepper plantation owned by Captain Francis Light.

Phillips went on to become a Governor of Penang, and the building served as a Government House.

At night, strategically positioned lights highlight the beautifully restored building set next to the Air Itam River.

The house has been stylishly fitted out to reflect what it might have looked like 200 years ago, and this elegance is carried through to the fine dining restaurant on the ground floor.

Full-length curtains hang at the French doors, making a graceful backdrop for the chic tables and chairs.

You will surely enjoy the excellent cuisine as the restaurant is run by executive chef David Looi from Singapore.

He has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and exclusive island resorts, cooking for the likes of Robert de Niro and Bruce Willis.

From noon to 2.30pm, a four-course set lunch is available priced from RM45++.

It comes with soup or salad, choice of mains, dessert and coffee.

Tucking into his wonderful creations is a bit like eating a piece of modern art, and it seems almost a shame to ruin such a masterpiece!

A case in point is the Fresh Garden Salad ? the simple name belies the dish which is a glorious riot of colours, textures and flavours.

Looi makes clever use of edible flowers such as purple violets and yellow verbenas, combining them with the reds and greens of tart capers, crispy peppers and soft juicy orange segments and smoked salmon slices.

What looks like a segment of hard-boiled egg is actually cunningly disguised crunchy yellow fish roe tucked into white Japanese squid.

However, the soup is not to be sniffed at; it was Pumpkin that day ? hot, thick and delicious.

?We are very particular about our soups here,? Looi stressed.

?We make our own chicken stock from scratch.?

Looi, who is launching a cookery book of his creations in September, has brought his classical training with him, instilling his culinary team here with the same passion that has brought him thus far.

This showed in the salmon dish ? just as prettily presented ? which was cooked to perfection.

Lunch, he promises, is a taste of what dinner has to offer.

With a la carte, eight-course Chef?s Tasting Menu (from RM128++) or the five-course set dinner (RM88++) to choose from, there is no doubt you will dine very well indeed in the evening.

However, if you just want to chill and enjoy the premises without overindulging, then consider their popular English Afternoon Tea.

It is available from 2.30 pm to 5.30pm.

Suffolk House (04-2283930) is open daily but do book at weekends as they often have functions on Saturday and Sunday.

For corporate gatherings, contact Melanie Anthony (04-2291109).

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