The hidden gem that is Jeff’s Cellar at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat was recently named one of the five most magnificent bars in the world by CNN Greece. Small wonder. As a dining destination, Jeff’s Cellar’s simple moniker belies its spectacular setting inside the belly of a 260-million-year-old limestone cave just two hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. It is an exceptional, almost transcendental, even slightly gothic, experience, heightened by the extensive range of organic and rare wines from around the world.
What started as a private cellar to host close friends and family of Tan Sri Dato Seri Dr. Jeffrey Cheah, Founder and Chairman of the Sunway Group, has now become an internationally recognised establishment. Jeff’s Cellar’s new gastronomic experience, Dine & Dream, sees four bespoke dining choices headed by a native son of Ipoh who’s returned to the fold, Head Chef Lee Choon Boon.
Each option guides guests through their preferred setting. With Star Struck, couples dine on a private deck under the stars against a majestic backdrop of the hot springs lake and towering limestone hills. In-Private houses guests on The Balcony, an elevated private cavern overlooking the hot springs lake. Sizzle & Flames lets guests savour their own barbeque selections, while Enchanted Delights presents an elegant afternoon champagne tea overlooking a tranquil pond.
Regardless the mise-enscene, the culinary experience sees course after accomplished course. The Secret Escape takes diners into the heart of the cave, where they will dine on five- or seven-course curated dinners. The amuse bouche of Ossetra caviar, pan-seared scallop, carrot, cumin sand, crispy duck chips and watercress, sets the culinary journey off with a play of textures highlighting the scallop’s plump, sweet flesh. Foie gras is presented on a French brioche and topped with caramelised onion puree, grape juice reduction and accompanied, unconventionally, by a homemade apricot jam roll. A robust lobster bisque of poached lobster, pistachio’s spheres and corn kernels present a reliable opening act to the main of A5 Japanese wagyu beef, served expertly seared and accompanied by porcini mushrooms, slightly charred spring onion and truffle mash. For dessert, one simply must savour the Valrhona Chocolate Sphere paired with a pistachio gelato and dramatically melted down with a swirl of warmed caramel sauce to reveal berry crumbles.
But why stop at culinary delights alone? The retreat itself Aerial view of The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat Jeff’s Cellar at The Banjaran – rated one of the most magnificent bars in the world by CNN Greece is a quiet, private discovery cradled by lush tropical rainforest. There is more than a reverent nod to nature with just 45 garden, water and lake villas nestled in a secluded cove against vistas of the towering limestone hills. Guests have exclusive access to the retreat’s geothermal hot spring dipping pools, a thermal steam cave, a meditation cave, a crystal cavern, a naturally heated swimming pool, a Garru Rufa fish pool and a yoga pavilion. Even better, the retreat only accommodates guests aged 12 and above.