Samui Wining & Dining
101+10+10

When it comes to sheer style, it’s no wonder that everyone’s off to The Library!

 

Page-20This isn’t about a library. It’s about THE Library, and it’s a resort. It fronts the beach, smack in the middle of the most popular part of Chaweng. It’s a thesis in its own right that spans the cultural roots of the island – from hippie huts, to Bangkok high society, to the fringes of Thailand’s new generation of creative artists, designers and architects – not to mention several of the shining stars of today’s Thai pop culture and one world-renowned international mixologist. Many resorts try to emulate the style of The Library and fail. They’re snatching at fragments of form and struggling to do things with style. But everything at The Library is done IN style, and that’s the difference.

      The land here has been in the same family for generations. Twenty five years ago, when you could see the sea from just about anywhere along Chaweng Beach Road, there were a handful of huts and a little shack restaurant on this site. Today, the family’s eldest son, Khun Pang, has re-shaped it all into one of the cleanest and coolest statements of contemporary design around. His time spent in Bangkok, first at university and then in amongst the fringes of Thailand’s new and emerging avant-garde community, sowed the seeds of what was to emerge. And after three years

spent sharing ideas with vibrant and talented young architects and designers, his concept became a reality and ‘The Library’ opened its doors in 2007.

      I could go on at length about the design concept and the layout. I could enthuse about the quirks of surprising style that pop up everywhere when you least expect them. Because it’s a complete fallacy that the borders of minimalist style makes everything easy, because all it needs is less of everything! This leads to a soul-less landscape that, in the worst instances, bring to mind post war Soviet architecture, or perhaps some high-security prisons. There’s no humour in it. But I’ll leave it up you, dear reader, to discover for yourself the myriad contrasts of visual charm that are The Library. The shy smiles of the hidden drawers of their restaurant (The Page) where the silver service cutlery resides, or the array of alchemical retorts and unusual cocktail stuff that chuckles at you from behind the bar. Everything here is a voyage of gentle discovery, and all of it is there to be discovered.

     This place just doesn’t get the walk-in custom that it deserves. Firstly, its presence is deliberately shy and understated, relying more on reputation and word of mouth than the ‘Here I am!’ scream of neon lights (perish the thought!). You might spot the odd Thai TV celeb or bikinied chart-topper basking by the bright red pool, but they’ll singularly outnumber the curious incoming tourists. It’s probably because wanderers on the street outside don’t notice the low-key presence of the place – sadly, their loss. However, last year The Library came up with its first-ever shout. Right next to its uber-discreet (if not actually obscure) entrance with the white moulded and stylised life-size figure reading a book (a little bit south of McDonald’s) is a gigantic two-floor cube of glass bearing the legend ‘Drink Gallery’.

     In keeping with all else here, this is a combination of haute-style and maxi-culture, with the internationally-renowned mixologist, Dhasan ‘Golffy’ Prabhananda having set up the drink side of things, and now dropping in every month in-between stints in Hong Kong or Melbourne or Moscow to teach the resident shakers a new recipe or two. The food here is simply super also, and presented with an Alice-in Wonderland flair that’ll keep a bemused smile on your face. Plus there’s a drink-eat-drink-eat set-menu-special called ‘Pairings’ which is an entire sub-experience all by itself.

      And now you know where all of this is to be found, take your pick. Head directly for the glass cube on the street. Or navigate your way inside, past the high bamboo wall, though a mess of green lawns and sun-dappled massive fruit trees, past the geometric cubes of the villas/dwellings/houses, past the swimming pool with a floor of rose petals and towards the sand. There you’ll find 12 low tables with bean bag seating looking out to sea, and discover a taste bud trauma of eats and drinks. There are 101 different cocktails, some of them mocktails. There are also ten so-called tapas offerings (but they’re big!) and another ten lots of ‘munchies’. The 10-dish nibbly side of things was put together by celebrity-chef Nokveeuz, who’s now off in Russia or somewhere bringing culture to the cognoscenti. The ten maxi munchies come courtesy of Sous Chef, Bird. And so altogether, you get 101 + 10 + 10.

      It has to be said, of course, that you’re not going to be paying fast food prices. But here’s the trick. Get there (the best time of day anyway) at around 5:00 pm. Flop out on your bag and hit the cocktails first – they’re big and they’ve got a real poke. There are 101 to go for, and they are 2-for-1 in the happy hour between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Give it a couple of goes and you’ll get the nibbles. The tapas and munchies are big portions and totally delicious. If you come on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, this part of the beach will be sectioned off with column lighting and have a very cool DJ who will be playing some really mellow grooves – not a thrasher anywhere amongst them – heaven forbid!

         The Library has always been more of a special sort of ‘Smooth Central’ – all you have to do is to find it! You can get there from the road or come in from the beach. Drink Gallery is a show stopper. ‘The Page’ is something you’ll want to write home about. But if you want to get yourself firmly rooted in the kindest kind of ‘Samui Today’, then it’s all to do with numbers. And in particular, the progression that goes – 101 + 10 + 10!

         

Rob De Wet


 


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