Poppies promises a lot more than a relaxing stay in its deluxe cottages; guests can do more than unwind in some of the lushest gardens on Samui (think huge old trees, buckets of foliage and a stream that splashes through all of it). It’s also home to the island’s original luxury international restaurant, and the food here remains absolutely top-notch. Even if both restaurant and resort have been operating for almost a quarter of a century – history by Samui’s standards – that doesn’t mean to say that Poppies Samui has become a stuffy institution. On the contrary, the vibe here, though decidedly elegant, is also cutting edge.
Poppies succeeds in presenting both heritage Thai food and an international menu at one and the same time. The entire concept of the restaurant is all about professionalism. Word-of-mouth was once all that the resort had in the way of advertising, but people quickly heard about it, liked what they saw and passed on the message. They’re still doing that – when they’re not actually returning to sample Poppies all over again.
Even with today’s fierce competition, Poppies is still wowing its guests, and manages to do this with some original approaches (some are literal, as we will shortly see) and by looking ahead to the future. All this translates as: there’s nothing quite like Poppies, anywhere on the island. For a start, the approach to the restaurant is unique. Guests can get there through a secret door, camouflaged by a faux bookcase, which swings back to reveal an enigmatic tunnel that meanders away into the distance. It’s actually a service passageway by day, but is definitely a great way to arrive at the restaurant in the evening, all the more so as the chef interrupts your journey with an amuse-bouche.
If all this sounds too melodramatic, there’s no need to worry, as you can also walk through the garden; it’s equally wondrous. Follow a meandering path as it leads over a wooden bridge, pause to admire fat koi carp lazily swimming underneath, and continue through sumptuous tropical foliage to the restaurant. Dine in an authentic teak pavilion or a smaller one a little closer to the sea. If that’s not close enough, there’s a sandy terrace that overlooks the beach or you can dine right on the sands. For the latter, kick off your shoes – it really is a relaxed experience. Whatever your choice, you’re guaranteed a wonderful time. Your amuse-bouche now comes, as does Poppies’ beautifully put together menu.
You can enjoy Thai dishes that are cooked in authentic ways, with meat and fish a-plenty, curries and stir-fries – everything you could possibly expect from a high-calibre restaurant. A wealth of herbs and spices makes all these dishes wonderfully aromatic – Poppies has always been known for its superb tastes.
There are also some surprises; an opulent choice at Poppies is their Kantoke, a Thai traditional shared meal which is brought to you on a circular rattan tray. Here it’s great for couples or friends; the tray holds four exquisite main courses along with rice, either brown or white, and is followed by dessert. Poppies offers four different options: Four Regions, Vegetarian, Royal Thai or Seafood.
Thanks to there being both a Thai chef and an international chef, there truly is something for everyone, even the most jaded of appetites. Star quality abounds in the international menu, too, with a plethora of steaks, seafood and vegetarian dishes, all guaranteed to be every bit as tasty as the Thai side.
The service at Poppies is both attentive and courteous, with staff very welcoming. Many of them have been here for years, and all are expert at bringing guests total satisfaction. Their attentiveness includes some small but pleasing notes, such as offering all guests cold towels and, after their meal, a complimentary glass of Kahlúa.
Poppies may have been the first restaurant of its kind on the island, but it doesn’t just pride itself on its historic role; if it was a leader back then, it still is today. The management here look towards the future, and are taking steps to make sure it’s supportive of ecological concerns. This January, Poppies became the island’s first resort to replace the small non-biodegradable plastic bottles of drinking water with metal ones. Buy one and refill for free at designated spots on the island. Other resorts will soon be joining this new trend, and hopefully it’ll soon put an end to one of the island’s main sources of waste.
Both forward-thinking and traditional at the same time, Poppies is still a highlight for holidaymakers when it comes to marvellous food and drink. As a prized gem, the restaurant, along with the resort, entirely deserves its accolade for excellence.
For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7742 2419.