It’s true that you’re spoiled for choice – with restaurants on Samui, I mean. There are just so many! And it is also true that the best of them are tucked away, off the beaten track. So how do you choose? Well there are magazines and papers, both local and international, plus lots of online sources to browse through, too. But very often the best way is the simplest; you just ask around. And one of the names that’s spoken again and again is the unforgettably-titled ‘Dr Frogs’.
And it’s not just word of mouth, either. This excellent restaurant has won awards – several Thailand Tatler ‘Best Restaurant’ accolades and even the hard-to-live-up-to TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. The cuisine comes courtesy of Chef Massimo, and is true Italian fare with an emphasis on seafood. And ever since it opened its doors back in 2007, it’s continued to succeed, year after year, until it’s now become one of our island institutions.
This is partly due to the enviable location; perched cliffside overlooking the sweep of Chaweng Bay, just around the corner from there in Chaweng Noi. It’s also tied-in with the décor, too, with lots of warm glowing teak, a decorous olive and cream colour scheme, and discreet mellow lighting everywhere. And this is all enhanced by the dining areas, with not only a quiet inner sanctum but with also two split-level decks. And then the staff play a big part: they’re all trained to be responsive without being over-attentive, and friendly without being over-familiar – plus their English skills are well
The menu is extensive and it’s effectively in place all day. Lunch on Samui tends to be a leisurely affair, involving salads, soups, anti-pasti and a variety of pastas; the climate is just too warm for anything heavier. Pizzas are popular: thin and crispy in true Italian style; Chef Massimo makes them all in-house. But the chef’s salads are top of the daytime list – especially when combined with fresh seafood or locally caught fish, such as white snapper.
Dr Frogs is one of the few places that enjoys a steady day time patronage. Partly due to the fact that it’s located directly alongside the main ring-road which runs up and over the hill between Chaweng and Lamai. But its reputation also has a lot to do with this, and it’s not only popular with passing tourists but also has proved itself an ideal spot for informal business meetings and lunches.
Needless to say all ingredients are prime, with the imported 120-day grain-fed Black Angus Australian fillet steak representing the level of quality regular diners have come to expect. All seafood is freshly bought each day from local markets but with perhaps one outstanding exception, the lobsters, which are brought-in from Alaska.
All of which paints a picture of quality dining, enjoyed in a refined and very laid-back setting and with a panoramic seascape that’s hard to beat. It’s all well-established and running smoothly. But what’s of particular interest is that the management team here aren’t complacent or content to rest on their laurels. And right now there’s an exciting new venture afoot.
Right next door there’s a charming and highly individual small villa resort by the name of Boujis. Not only does it share that same stunning seascape, but the quirky layout is fascinating – with two or three villas being built to begin with, then another several being added onto a new terrace below at a later date, and a few more built after that. This means that the whole site and its 14 villas are whimsically and charmingly embryonic, with irregular steps up and down (often through short tunnels of mature foliage) from one layer to the next.
Most villas have a huge sun balcony overlooking the bay. It comes complete with a kitchenette, having a fridge and microwave and tea/coffee making equipment, plus a living area with Apple TV and Netflix. And now it also has an added attraction: a liaison with Dr Frogs that means that there’s not only 20% off the restaurant prices but that you can also dial for room service, too.
But there’s more! Boujis has made something of a name for itself in that it specialises in weddings for discerning couples – and this extends to the LGBT community, to which the resort is warmly welcoming. Not only is the accommodation ideal, having very much the feel of a discreet mini village, but it’s perfect for the actual ceremony, too. The most popular location can seat up to 40, and is next to the yoga studio, where giant boulders give way to the sea below. And then there’s also the poolside area, with the infinity pool and seascape beyond making for a picturesque setting for up to 25 guests.
And, splendidly, the association with Dr Frogs also means that the entire group’s food and beverage needs can be effectively catered for. Whether this comes in the form of a sit-down plated dinner, a lavish buffet, or selections from the à la carte menu, everything’s in place for you. Even if you elect to stay elsewhere you’ll still find the ethos at this restaurant conducive to warm and a memorable occasion, and that also holds true for hosting the rehearsal dinner, bachelor or bachelorette dinners, or meals on the day of the big event.
The seaside villas can accommodate up 40 guests, mixed between the ‘Deluxe 1 Bedroom’, ‘Executive 1 Bedroom’, ‘Deluxe 2 Bedroom’ or ‘Executive 2 Bedroom’ options. But the best way to investigate this more fully is to go there and have a chat with David White, the very friendly general manager. Or if that’s not practical, have a look at their website where there’s lots of pictures and info.
But however you go about it, there’s only one word for this association between Boujis and Dr Frogs – and that’s ‘fabulous’!
Rob De Wet