Samui Wining & Dining
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Don’t walk on by – Drink Gallery has some of the most splendid eats on the strip!

Don’t walk on by – Drink Gallery has some of the most splendid eats on the strip!Go to somewhere in the middle of Chaweng Beach Road in the early evening. Sit down for a while. Watch the people. Then take a gentle stroll in any direction and check what people are doing. Look to see which businesses are busy. Work out what people want at this time of night. The shops and bars will have a few customers. But the food-pubs and restaurants will be full. People like to eat first, and then wander around and enjoy a few drinks afterwards. Bars and pubs are for rounding-off the evening while you street-watch and take in the passing sights. Restaurants are for food, earlier on.

Which is why many of our visitors can be seen wandering past Drink Gallery in the early evening. And if this relates to you, a visitor to the island, try to picture this. Small shops, big shops and brightly lit stalls. A tailor. A small supermarket. A lovely little restaurant, intimate, with glowing warm lights and happy eaters at the tables. And then a huge cube of glass with a prominent bar and two giant walls covered in bottles and glasses, and a big sign saying ‘Drink Gallery’. You continue walking, and stroll past in your search for a nice place to eat - unfortunately.

Unfortunately? Most definitely so! Because let me tell you a secret. Drink Gallery has some of the best and most exciting food on the entire strip. People who live here know this. They come here to eat, as well as to indulge in their world-class cocktail creations. If this minimalist establishment, with its enormous expanses of concrete on the walls, and its avant-garde styling were to be suddenly shifted to Bangkok, it would be full every night. Everyone who knew of its reputation would flock there, trendsetters and starlets alongside the residents. But this is Samui. And if you’re here on a ten-day stay, you’ll quite possibly go home having missed all of its delights.

Minimalism is trendy. Quite a lot of new resorts have had a go at this genre in the last few years, with varying degrees of success. After all, it doesn’t take much imagination to keep all your walls as undecorated concrete. But there’s a world of difference between doing things that are in style,Don’t walk on by – Drink Gallery has some of the most splendid eats on the strip! and doing things with style. The décor here deliberately offsets the monolithic walls. Everything is all tied-in together and it almost giggles at you – it’s that quirky and charming. There’s a long wooden table in the middle. But every single chair is different. The glasses behind the bar look like they belong on an alchemist’s table, with retort stands and mason jars. The hand-made cutlery comes upright, each set standing in its own little black rock. The different menus are a constant surprise – some being written on hand-made paper across a long Perspex slab, others being in the form of tiny framed flip charts.

Then there’s the way in which your food and drinks are presented to you. Normally you’d get a plate with some food on it. But here it’s anybody’s guess. It might come on a slate slab. Or, if it’s one of the quite superb combos of eats and drinks together, tapas-style with an accompanying cocktail, it might come in a little stressed-iron rack, with the sauces in teensy Alice-in-Wonderland stoppered bottles alongside. All this kind of curious stuff isn’t some kind of bolt-on gimmick – it’s the way the whole place has been conceived and realised. Everything’s integrated to create something entirely out of the ordinary. And dining here is a continual adventure, because you’ll keep noticing more curiosities as you go.

All of which is fine and dandy, most entertaining, but what’s the food like? Simple answer: it’s gourmet quality. You may not know but this is actually a part of The Library, one of Samui’s top boutique resorts, which sits behind Drink Gallery, between the road and the beach. And its signature restaurant, The Page, shares its quality cuisine with Drink Gallery. And here you’ve got a choice. You can either dip into the à la carte menu, or you can go down the road of eats n drinks together.

The à la carte menu is substantial (created by the internationally renowned chef, Khun Nhoi Ouypornchai) and featuring the usual sections of appetisers, soups, pasta, mains and desserts. There are no real surprises here (other than the superb presentation of the dishes) Don’t walk on by – Drink Gallery has some of the most splendid eats on the strip!except perhaps the cost. A quick glance at the ‘mains’ section reflects pricing that hovers between 350 and 450 baht, with one of two of the more exotic offerings coming in higher. But it’s the highly individual way that Drink Gallery have combined their cocktails and eats together which puts them in a league on their own.

Firstly, let it be known that the entire cocktail menu has been designed by the world-renowned mixologist, Golffy Prabhananda. Golffy makes his cocktails as if he were a chef, using fruit, flowers, cheese, figs, raisins – just about everything imaginable. And a part of the ethos is presenting them in ways that are startlingly creative – expect to see your drink in a mini mason jar or a re-invented flower vase. Plus Drink Gallery have gone about the whole business as if it was a wine-pairing in reverse. Here they’ve started with a cocktail (such as Truffle Shuffle Gzoya – plum sake based) and spent lots of trial and error twinning it with what amounts to tapas (such as two mini samosas with truffles and spices inside). These are limited edition ‘eat-tails’ (my own term!) there are several available with new ones being introduced regularly.

And then there are the substantial ‘Pairings’. In essence, this is a set combination of cocktails and tapas, with different sections. Each of the eats and drinks has choices, and you get to eat three dishes from a choice of seven and three cocktails from a choice of six. Once again, they’ve matched the cocktails with the food. Drink Gallery is open from 1:00 pm until 1:00 am and is just south of the landmark of Tropical Murphy’s. And now you know all about it, there’s no need to walk on by when you’re out for eats!

          

Rob De Wet


 


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