Samui Wining & Dining
All Roads lead to Rum

La Route du Rum is a French-style restaurant offering more than just great food.

 La Route du Rum is a French-style restaurant offering more than just great food.Have you ever driven along almost empty country roads in France and stopped for lunch or dinner at some modest yet welcoming restaurant, that turns out to offer amazingly good food? France is full of such places, and spending a few days driving around will often bring you unexpected surprises – not just wonderful landscapes, but really professional restaurants that are very affordable.

You might not think it, but on Samui you can have exactly the same experience. Though of course it’ll be on a smaller scale, as the island’s roads are few in number. A must for any visitor with a car is a visit to the south of the island, the least developed part of Samui. And it’s here that you can find an idyllic French restaurant that seems in many ways to have stepped out of its native France, and transported itself thousands of miles away to the tropics.

La Route du Rum is in a secluded spot, but isn’t that far away. If you’re coming from Chaweng and Lamai, you'll first need to turn off the ring-road at the large junction just after Ban Hua Thanon. This brings you onto Highway 4170, which many people agree is the most picturesque road on the island. It loops round the south of the island, and heads round the coast towards Nathon. Once you’re on this road, you'll have it mostly to yourself. Look out for La Route du Rum, which is on your left-hand side close to the crossroads that intersect with Highway 4173 at the village of Ban Kao.

There’s a sign right outside the property; turn in to the drive here and you'll come to a beautiful garden. This is the setting for the restaurant, and it couldn’t be more scenic, surrounded by palm trees that gently sway in the wind.

Staff are on hand to welcome you, and speak English, French and Thai. Everything’s very informal here, but you'll find the food is way, way above average. There are two chefs, a husband and wife team: Martial cooks his native French food, while his wife, Khun Anny, who’s Thai, prepares all the local dishes. They both love what they do, and the restaurant has a family feeling to it, just as it would do in France. Serving hours are from 11:00 am until 9:00 pm, every day except Monday. The French food is mostly as you’d find in France, though there are touches from the French Caribbean as well. You can enjoy traditional delicacies such as boeuf bourguignon, foie gras or canard ballotine, the latter being rolled leg of duck, stuffed with honey and blue cheese.

Everything’s made from scratch, and locally-sourced food is used wherever possible and comes straight from the market, guaranteeing its freshness. At La Route du Rum they smoke their own salmon,  Route du Rum is a French-style restaurant offering more than just great food. pork and duck and Chef Martial will soon be making his own sausages. Incidentally he spent many years as a chef in France, and has worked at a 3-star Michelin restaurant, while Chef Anny owned several restaurants in Bangkok.

On the Thai side, you'll find all the nation’s favourite dishes, such as green and red curries, chicken with cashew nuts and pad Thai; on the French, you can enjoy main courses such as parmentier with home-cooked and smoked salmon, or sauté of lacquered pork.

For desserts, finish off with chocolate profiteroles or a rum baba with bourbon vanilla ice-cream – just to name a couple of examples.

To accompany your meal, you can enjoy speciality Belgian beers, and naturally there are plenty of wines to choose from. Rum is also on the menu and you can have a mojito or ti-punch before your meal.

La Route du Rum gets its name from the fact that on the premises there’s a rum distillery, one of the few in South-East Asia. It’s a professional enterprise and uses specially-imported distillery equipment with cane juice being processed on the property at a small factory. The highest grade of ‘rhum agricole’, or agricultural rum, is the result. All the impurities are taken out, leaving a rum that’s extremely pure. It then goes through a lengthy maturation period before it’s bottled. Many people come to taste the rum, and if you do, you'll experience its purity for yourself. Variations are made using different fruits and the bottles also make for unique souvenirs and presents.

While it’s not necessary to make a reservation for lunch or dinner, you'll need to for some other events run by La Route de Rum. For example, on Sundays they put on a sumptuous barbecue. It’s an all-you-can-eat affair with chicken breast, pork, fish and seafood on the menu. It starts at 12:30 pm with food lasting until 3:30 or 4:00 pm. It’s a convivial time and is highly popular with families. Everyone enjoys the swimming pool which is open to all during the event. Children can run about in the extensive gardens, too, while the adults enjoy the great food and drink. Usually about 40 people attend, so ring in advance to secure your place.

You’ll also need to reserve – and in this case you will need to ring a week in advance – if you want to have a very special dinner such as lobster, fondue bourguignonne or râclette. Last but not least, La Route du Rum can put on a romantic dinner for two, if you reserve three days before.

No matter what brings you to La Route du Rum, the restaurant’s friendly team will make you feel at home, and at the same time you can enjoy being at the island’s only distillery – definitely a unique experience.

 

          

Dimitri Waring


 


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