For a long time now, RockPool has been a Samui favourite. It’s not generally a name you’ll hear spoken in tourist circles, although that’s a shame. Because not only does it offer some of the finest and most creative dining around, but the setting and outlook are superb, too. And then the reason it’s been a favourite with the locals for so long – the prices here are notably better than many of its more-glitzy competitors.
RockPool is just a very short way out of Chaweng, heading north towards neighbouring Choeng Mon. It’s actually the signature restaurant of Kanda Residences, a privately-owned and run collection of lovely pool villas. The frontage is striking and impossible to miss. But just ask for a buggy to take you down the hill to RockPool – through the twisting lanes between the tropical greenery.
You’ll arrive outside a small arch which expands into the upper floor of the restaurant – a large canopied space opening out in the middle, a bar at one side and comfy seating around. There’s the hi-tech open kitchen on the right – and a view that goes on forever! But the essence of RockPool is what’s hidden below. There’s a series of descending decks which come down from alongside the swimming pool and terrace above, with the top deck fitted out with daybeds and recliners, under the partial shade of one of the biggest trees around.
The executive chef here is the well-known Lisa Lang. And she’s put together a triple delight for this month – because very many of you who are reading this will soon be enjoying the festivities of both the Christmas and the New Year celebrations. And if you’ve got any choice in the matter, then a visit to RockPool ought to be high on your list of where to be on these dates.
So right away to the Christmas Eve Set Dinner, held on the evening of the 24th December. Lisa has the rare talent of being able to put dishes in front of you that look just terrific – then make your eyebrows rise with appreciation because they taste even better than they look.
There’s a five-course spread in store for you here, beginning with an opener of assorted canapés before you get to the starter – Crispy Hen’s Egg with Sausage and Walnut. Yes, I told you she was original and innovative, and it just gets better! The butternut soup is super, and the cherry and kirsch sorbet will slide you into the main course where you can choose between the ‘Roasted Quail with Black Trumpet Mushroom Risotto and Red Wine Jus’ – or the equally mouth-watering ‘Grilled Butterfish with Lemon’. Lisa’s desserts are legendary, and you’ll want to put this one up on your Facebook page – ‘Pistachio and Apple Crumble with Crème Anglaise and French Vanilla Ice-cream’.
The following day, Christmas Day, RockPool is celebrating with one of the brunches for which it is famous. Every Sunday throughout the year, there’s a brunch here (spread lazily over and across those inviting decks) which is the envy of other restaurants on the island. But, once a year, on Christmas day, this normally superb brunch becomes definitive.
I’m not going to list all the courses and options, because I’m not here to get you to read menus. But I’ll take a deep breath and say . . . French Fin de Claire oysters, mussels, prawns, salmon, sea bass, turkey, duck and pork. Lots of exotic cold cuts. Tomato and shallot salad, green bean and pesto salad, Caprese salad. Greek salad, potato salad. Home-made breads. Soup. Side dishes, fruit and sweet things. Roast beef, crispy pork loin – and the star of the show – a giant leg of lamb which has been slow-cooked for 12 hours.
There are live à la minute cooking stations: eggs, absolutely any way you want; waffles with so many toppings; fresh pasta, meats and different sauces, and a whole range of cooked-to-your preference BBQ items. This isn’t just a brunch. This is a gourmet Christmas Day mega-feast of a brunch!
And I’m not finished yet. You can come here and eat. Or you can come here and eat and drink. And, naturally, that’s catered for, too. There’s a choice of two added ‘specials’ which include free-flow drinks for two hours. The first is just to tempt you, as it includes unlimited fruit juices, soft drinks, teas or coffees. But the other one leaps to its feet and shouts: free-flow sake iced-tea, mojitos, mai tais, local beers, ciders, daiquiris and Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. Oh – plus juices, teas and coffees, too. And there’s a live band, North Wind, playing blues-jazz.
The price, as expected, is exceptional, as Samui residents have already come to know. Not only that but children under six are free, and those between six and 12 years are half price. And there’s also a 15% discount for Samui residents.
Did I say “3-in-1 at RockPool”? Well they are doing a New Year extravaganza, too, with a view of the fireworks across the whole of Chaweng Bay. If you’ve now become a fan of RockPool after reading this, then better make a booking for all or any of them now (including New Year’s Eve!). There are only a few shopping days to Christmas, after all!
Rob De Wet
For reservations and further information, telephone 0 7723 4500.