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Chef Philippe Chin sits behind a water cascade at his restaurant, Bambu on Hickman. (Jonathan Ernst/Staff)

A world of rich flavors awaits Bambu's diners



We flew to Paris recently, where we sampled some of the most sumptuous sauces and seasonings we've ever tasted, then made a beeline to Asia to add intriguing textures and flavors to the mix.

Actually, we traveled no farther than the Partridge Inn on Walton Way. A passport wasn't necessary, because Master Chef Philippe Chin has brought the most incredible tastes in the world to Augusta.

Bambu on Hickman, the inn's new upscale restaurant, is dazzling. The restaurant's ambiance seems to whisper diners' names, inviting them to settle in for a fantasy-like experience. From its soothing waterfall to its mountain sculpture - both changing colors as the evening progresses to simulate a sunset - the place is astoundingly beautiful.

The porch has an herb garden that Chef Chin lovingly tends, plucking its bounty as needed to complement each course.

The chef draws on his Asian/French heritage, topped off with a great imagination and unshakable sense of fun, to create his fusion cuisine. From the sushi bar to the vichyssoise to the African Nile perch fillet, it's apparent that the culinary world is his oyster. The menu changes daily, and his whims figure prominently in the selections.


For our dinner, we each chose the $39.95 four-course special. A six-course meal is available for $55. The menu is fixed for the specials, but the staff was wonderfully accommodating in letting us mix and match.

Our meal began with Bambu bread-fried Japanese rice paper with a soy-based sauce. The bread's delicate texture, punctuated by the piquant sauce, was wonderful.

Next came asparagus vichyssoise and shrimp and vegetables tempura. The soup was served in a towering stemmed glass; don't forget a doily next time, please, to keep it from sliding on the underliner. These appetizers combined textures and flavors so boldly that we savored every bite, often furrowing our brows trying to identify specific spices and herbs. (Oh, lavender. Of course.)

Our salads, Bambu Caesar and spring salad with kiwi dressing, likewise were wildly inventive. (Check out the cheesy wonton crisp with the Caesar and the carrots sculpted into blossoms.) Everything looked and tasted as fresh as if it had been picked from a backyard garden.

Our entrees, seared center cut filet mignon and sauteed Atlantic salmon fillet, were superb and gorgeously presented. The filet mignon was tender enough to cut with a fork, and the pineapple-mango vinaigrette on the salmon was oh-so-zesty.

The desserts - ah, the desserts. We were served trays offering bites full of an explosion of tastes and textures, including fresh berries, flaky phyllo, fresh cream topping, silky creme brulee, savory sorbet, sculpted fruit - incredible.

With amazing food, second-to-none presentation and impeccable service, Bambu is out of this world - right here in Augusta.


ON THE TOWN

The Eatery: Bambu on Hickman, in the Partridge Inn, 2110 Walton Way (map)

Phone: (706) 312-7777

Hours: 5-11 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

The Verdict: Master Chef Philippe Chin crosses all boundaries in bringing a world of flavor to Augusta

Raing: 5 out of 5 stars.


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