A fresh take on fine dining
Today, the typical fine dining experience looks to combine authentic flavours with local produce, offering a true taste of a specific origin while adding something new. Recently opened in Southampton, overlooking the Ocean Village marina, Blue Jasmine restaurant is based on this philosophy, providing a contemporary reimagining of traditional Asian flavours with quality produce grown locally within Hampshire, the New Forest and the South Downs.
Co-owners, Xi and Phoebe Zhao had a vision of bringing life to an already rich history of Asian cuisine. Having never been the biggest fans of traditional Chinese food, the couple based their menu off various cuisines they have previously enjoyed all over the globe. Blue Jasmine ultimately became a passion project for the Zhaos’ as they were quick to develop a unique way of preserving authenticity through a ‘new Asian style.’
This style was then translated from the menu to the interior design, with a lot of the materials being custom-made in Asia before being shipped over to Southampton. From the layered umbrella lamp shades and intricate golden Ginkgo leaf wall decorations to the stunning walnut and epoxy river table in the VIP area, the ambience combines the rich history and culture of Asia with a contemporary chic-style – creating more of an experience for customers instead of a standard dining set up.
“It’s like we’ve designed a restaurant for ourselves,” explains Xi Zhao. “We want people to feel like they’ve been transported to another world as soon as they walk through the doors. It gives a very unique experience, embedded in Asian roots.”
To further enhance the dining experience, the Zhaos’ wanted a slick audio installation for relaxed background accompaniment that would fit nicely into the restaurant’s ambience. Choosing to work with a company that could assist these needs, Flipside began working on a sound system that could be utilised throughout the main dining, raised dining spaces, toilet facilities, VIP room and outdoor area.
“We needed someone we could trust,” says Xi Zhao. “This is a very high-end space – every decision is thought through very carefully and choosing Flipside for the audio visual installation went without saying. They knew what they were doing and were very helpful in getting our vision across.”
With a Yamaha MTX3 acting as the brain of the entire system, the Flipside team installed a wall panel control for each zone of the restaurant, allowing easy accessibility and seamless coverage based off of the Zhaos’ specific preferences.
“Usually with restaurant sound system installations, owners are quite vague with how they want the audio to integrate into their design of the space – they tend to fall into one of two camps: either low to the ground or high in the atmosphere and that’s it,” says Flipside Managing Director, James Cooper. “But Xi and Phoebe clearly had a good idea of how they were going to integrate the sound system across the newly designed space and were ultimately convinced by our approach.”
For the larger zones, such as the raised dining area, the Flipside team decided on subs to provide the full frequency range throughout the whole space and tried to work out the most efficient way of getting decent coverage across all of the tables without requiring a large number of amplifier channels. “Yamaha’s VSX series are equipped with an internal 100V line transformer which allowed us to operate at both high and low impedance just by changing the tap on the rear of the speaker,” explains Cooper. “The satellite connectors then allowed the joining of satellite mid-high speakers to be used at the same amplifier output – which ended up reducing the number of amplifier channels and meant we could take advantage of the built-in high pass filter.”
To ensure even coverage, the Flipside team created networks of eight VXS3Fs powered via each VXS10ST. “You’re essentially sending 100-200W line to an area and covering around 30 tables in one of the lighter areas with a sub distributing out to the satellites,” says Flipside Project Manager, Ben Evans. “I wouldn’t normally do a series parallel, but for this sort of installation, it seemed like the best way to go.”
Being situated in a residential area with a glass fronted entranceway presented a challenge of how the sound could be spread across the al fresco dining space without disturbing the neighbouring area. Avoiding a surface-mount option, Flipside suggested an audio solution that could be implemented at ground level.
“We ended up placing Apart rock speakers around the flowerpots and I think they work perfectly as a subtle camouflage,” Cooper explains. “You don’t really notice and having them play really quietly means you can get a nice low-level spread around outside without disturbing the neighbours.”
The Zhaos’ appreciated Flipside’s innovative solutions for the outdoor installation. “I think the outdoor set up has turned out particularly well,” notes Xi Zhao. “Each speaker blends in nicely with the general decoration and adds real quality to the al fresco dining experience. The professionalism from the team was so valuable to us – their knowledge and expertise meant that they knew exactly what to do with every little detail.”
Blue Jasmine has received exceptional reviews for its innovative menu and exquisite interior since its official opening in late February and then post-lockdown re-opening in August. The co-owners are confident in their future endeavours and have praised Flipside for aiding them in their success. “The entire installation is discreet, easy to manage and the quality from day one has been excellent,” reflects Xi Zhao. “Even now with the added furniture and customers, the sound has managed to spread evenly and beautifully across the whole venue and for a high-end space such as this, we couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
- Yamaha MTX5D processor
- Yamaha XMV amplifiers
- Yamaha VXS10ST subwoofers
- Yamaha VXS3F speakers (loads of them)
- APart ROCK20 IP rated rock speakers