Samui Wining & Dining
Beyond Dining?

Finding out what all the fuss is about at Red Snapper Restaurant & Bar.


23If it’s all about location, location, location, then Red Snapper Restaurant & Bar certainly has that. Situated towards the northern end of Chaweng Beach Road, next to Chaweng Regent Beach Resort, this venue is perfectly pitched for pre-dinner drinks enjoyed to the sounds of the famed Red Snapper band. The refined dining experience is rumoured to be perfectly offset by a chilled ambience, meaning that on the one hand you’ve got exquisite food, and on the other an atmosphere that you can feel comfortable in – what a balance to strike!

    And despite the fact that you won’t find any island foodie worth their weight in coconuts who hasn’t heard of this Red Snapper joint, I, Christina Wylie, restaurant reviewer at Samui Wining and Dining, have never dined at this noteworthy establishment in all of my nine months living on this island (insert chosen emoticon representing shock and horror here). So, needless to say, I was more than excited when I was given the opportunity to finally pop down and pay the folks at Red Snapper a very long overdue visit. And so, with date in tow, I headed on down for dinner with an open mind and an empty stomach.

      But first a few facts: French Head Chef, Sébastien Meunier is renowned for his skilful adaptations of Mediterranean cuisine as well as top-notch grilled meat. Having passed through many a Michelin starred restaurant in his time, Sébastien has no problem orchestrating a kitchen to ensure that all the food meets his – and the customers’ for that matter – ultra-high standards.

      And although I said that Red Snapper acts as a great pre-dinner spot, it’s also a drinks locale in and of itself. Once the band kick off at 9:30 pm they go on till the early hours of the morning. But unlike some of the more rowdy venues you find down Chaweng Beach Road, Red Snapper is more of an intimate venue.

       So introductions over, let’s get back to the food. Chef Sébastien has a knack for experimenting with traditional Mediterranean ingredients and plating them up in novel ways. The night that my date and I dined there, there was a special set dinner available, which is code for, ‘a place where Sébastien can really let his creativity loose’ – so naturally that’s what we opted for.

       The set menu took us through a starter, soup, main, palate cleanser and cheese plate before finally finishing up with dessert, so it was a good job that we brought our appetites with us that evening. But first a breadbasket. It was filled with warm, doughy morsels of all shapes and sizes, and alongside it a ceramic tray harbouring a trio of dips – olive oil and balsamic vinegar, herb butter and homemade pesto.

       Then the starter. The beef carpaccio was incredibly tasty. Wafer thin, blood red slices of succulent beef were smothered in a pesto and anchovy tapenade, and served with a quarter of artichoke heart, rocket, Parmesan and a scattering of whole, roasted garlic cloves.

       Once we had finished our starters, a creamy mushroom soup was slid beneath our noses – and what a fantastic smell emanated from it! Peering into the bowl we saw chunks of pancetta suspended within the thick liquid. Spoon to mouth revealed they packed a smoky punch of flavour, offset nicely by the chopped parsley that lifted out the lighter notes of the dish. And to finish it off, drizzled atop this impressively flavour-filled soup was truffle and red pepper oil.

      Now time for the main event – one order of the Red Snapper signature dish and another of the pork tenderloin. The former a thick, moist slab of red snapper topped with herby breadcrumbs, served with pumpkin, zucchini and olive ragu and potato gratin. The latter, a meatier affair, served up two cylinders of succulent pork tenderloin wrapped in crispy bacon, complete with an almost celebratory sprig of rosemary jutting out from each cylinder – a freeze-framed firework came to mind. A generous dollop of horseradish and beetroot mash cushioned the pork, and the whole lot was drizzled in a rich, garlic butter sauce.

      At this point, full to the extent that we were convinced our chair legs had begun to bow under the pressure of our increased body mass, we were somehow sweet talked into dessert by a truffle sorbet palate cleanser. And so we continued.

      A long, rectangular plate arrived with a generous wedge of soft cheese placed into the centre of it. Artfully laid out around it were walnuts, figs, rocket and strings of beetroot, all gleaming in the candlelight due to a coating of sticky sugar reduction.

      And then the dessert; a quadrangle formulated by four sampler-sized dishes – crème brûlée, lemon pie, chocolate tart and tiramisu – filled with a ball of coconut ice cream and an artistic swirl of sweet green syrup. They were all delicious, but every swallowed morsel took us one step further towards total, unequivocal ‘food coma’ status. We were now well and truly stuffed.

      Dining over, it was time to soak up the ambience. The thing that struck us most about Red Snapper – food aside – was its effortless straddling of fine dining slickness, and a comfortable, casual atmosphere. It was a sort of enigmatic concoction of the optimum music volume, décor, lighting and service, we knew that much, but just how they’d executed it with such seeming ease, that was the impressive part.

      From the atmospheric colour scheme – red throughout – to the mood created by the live music, and from the exquisite food to the attentive service, we’d had a flawless evening. And as we left the restaurant, the sounds of the band resonating down the steps after us, we passed a sign at the entrance brandishing the Red Snapper slogan, “Hear me, drink me, eat me. An experience beyond just dining.” And at risk of sounding clichéd, I couldn’t help but think that that’s exactly what we’d just had.


Christina Wylie


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