Samui Wining & Dining
Dinnertainment

A look at what's on offer at Red Snapper Restaurant & Bar

 

8I think you’re spoiled. No – I don’t mean that you’re badly behaved and stamp your feet when you don’t get what you want! But just look around you: I dare you not to breathe a long sigh of pleasure. Well, of course, you’ve earned it and folks don’t often pop across to Thailand just for weekend breaks. It’s a special occasion, made even more special again, because at this time of year you’ll probably be here for the Christmas and New Year festivities. The sky is blue, the sea is calm. White sands and fluffy clouds. That’s set the scene – but it’s not quite what I mean by ‘spoiled’.

    Unless you’re long-since familiar with Samui, you’ll begin to catch-on to what I’m on about after you’ve been here for a day or so. I’m talking about food, restaurants, and dining-out. You’ll be excited and amazed at the sheer numbers of restaurants to pick from. Even if you were here for last year’s celebrations, you’ll still be impressed by how much things have changed and how many new eateries have sprung up in the meantime. I’ve even heard it said that, per square metre, there are more restaurants on Samui than London, Paris or New York. And a greater diversity of international cuisine you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere.

      Unless you’re long-since familiar with Samui, you’ll begin to catch-on to what I’m on about after you’ve been here for a day or so. I’m talking about food, restaurants, and dining-out. You’ll be excited and amazed at the sheer numbers of restaurants to pick from. Even if you were here for last year’s celebrations, you’ll still be impressed by how much things have changed and how many new eateries have sprung up in the meantime. I’ve even heard it said that, per square metre, there are more restaurants on Samui than London, Paris or New York. And a greater diversity of international cuisine you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere.

      Surprisingly, although there are many fine restaurants on Samui, there are very, very few establishments where you can eat a world-class meal and also enjoy a show of comparable quality. And one of the longest-established of these is Red Snapper Restaurant & Bar, conveniently situated almost right in the centre of Chaweng on the beach road.

       You’ll be able to gauge the genre of this restaurant if you take a moment to study it from outside. I’ve noticed that this is something few people ever do – the vast majority simply walk straight in. But pause first, and give it the once-over. On first glance all there is to see is a row of greenery running along the frontage, screening the terrace from the road outside. Then you’ll notice the subtle water feature alongside the entrance . . . beyond which is revealed a darkly-elegant bar. This is the key to everything at Red Snapper – quality and understatement, combined with elegance and refinement.

       Again, once inside, it takes a few moment’s study to appreciate the ingenious layout of it all. It could easily have been put together in the form of simply one long room, with the lounge and band-platform at the far end. But it’s thoughtfully broken into several levels, and screened into sections by translucent blocks and an inside water feature. The floor is slate, the dining furniture is solid, the lounge is very comfortable and the lighting is low-key. It’s all very chic.

      Heading the kitchen and responsible for the menu and cuisine is resident Chef de Cuisine, French-born Sébastien Meunier. Sébastien previously worked at 5-star hotels and restaurants in Europe, America and Asia – including the famed Cote d'Azur’s Michelin 3-Star Château Eza – before taking up his position here in December 2007. His cuisine is grounded in the classical French tradition, but personalised via touches of ‘fusion’ and characterised by refining all those heavy classical sauces down into flavourful juices. There’s a wide range of entrées, salads and soups, extended by menu-sections of pasta, risotto and ‘mains’. And the desserts here are supreme, all of them gourmet extravagances.

      Sébastien has enhanced his already-excellent menu especially for the season, by introducing a ‘Festive Special’ supplement. Amongst others you can opt for dishes based around Fin de Claire oysters, imported beef rib with truffles, Phuket lobster, or the intriguing ‘monkfish cheeks with champagne sauce’. Of course, the restaurant is open in the afternoon, too, and the cool and shady terrace is perfectly placed for street-watching, particularly if you feel like using the free WiFi to catch up with your mail.

      But what sets Red Snapper apart from its contemporaries doesn’t kick-in until later in the evening. This is when their resident Filipino trio get going. The lounge here is just perfect for showcasing their talent, although (as it stays open until 1:00 am) you’ll find that the band begins later than the norm, with their first set coming in at 8:30 pm. These three young men are excellent. They’re playing acoustic guitar, electric bass and drums, with no MIDI tracks or computer synthesis at all – a measure of their musical integrity. Their style is a light, Latin-based jazz, and an intriguing blend of recognisable favourites together with more-diverse ballads. Well, to begin with, anyway!

      As the night progresses and the lounge begins to fill, so the tempo increases and the guys let loose a bit. As well as a bouncier repertoire, there’s also more opportunity for them to exercise their mellow three-part harmonies, which are a joy to behold. The kitchen doesn’t close until 11:00 pm, and so you’ll notice that this is a popular venue not only for diners, but for the after-dinner crowd, too, who can often be seen snacking on tapas or finger-food. It’s classy, it’s cool, and it’s a very mellow way indeed to spend an evening.

      ‘Spoiled’ can mean a lot of different things. You’re surely ‘spoiled’ for choice when it comes to dining out at night. And when you dine at Red Snapper then the staff will certainly ‘spoil’ you with their attention. Plus you’ll be ‘spoiled’ and pampered with both the cuisine and the entertainment. But the last thing you want to do is to ‘spoil things’, particularly your holiday stay on Samui. And there’s a strong chance that might happen – if you never get around to a having a night out at Red Snapper Restaurant & Bar!


 

Rob De Wet


 


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