Republican Pleasures – We take a look at the culinary side of one of the island’s most refined beach clubs – Lamai’s Beach Republic.

Beach Republic

There’s a lot in a name. Call a place a café and it paints a mental picture. But deem it a bistro and that’s something else. It’s the same with beach clubs. Twenty years ago we all knew what they were: a seething mass of 18-30s, a DJ, the latest loud music and all-night parties on the sand. But things have changed. At the one end of the scale there are restaurants playing non-stop music with beanbags on the beach – they put ‘beach club’ in their name, but they still don’t get the idea. And then at the far end of the spectrum we’ve got the real deal; purpose-built environments with full-service aims and intent. And that’s exactly what you’ll be delighted to discover when you venture into Beach Republic.

When it first appeared in 2009, it caused a bit of a stir. Samui is not well known for setting trends. In fact it’s rather traditional, especially when it comes to architectural style.When it first appeared in 2009, it caused a bit of a stir. Samui is not well known for setting trends. And yet here was an attractive new development, with not just a super beach frontage, but also 39 discreetly tucked away high-end villas and suites, plus an opulent spa and fitness centre, together with an excellent restaurant and a very laid-back pool area. And all of it was simply and plainly styled; clean, bright and almost Mediterranean in feel. But what caught everyone’s eye, and held their attention, was the dramatically-designed main roof.

Beach RepublicThis is the first thing you see as you come through the main entrance; an embryonic essay in gigantic suspended curves. Beneath this is a very shady huge open-plan dining and lounging area, with the white walls and the bright red accents enhancing the contemporary décor. This floor extends itself naturally out from under the roof, around the pool and towards the beach, creating another comfy and relaxed area filled with immense daybeds, bright sunshades and pool loungers, that’s naturally bounded by a giant boulder to the right. And on the other side of this is another pool plus an open-fronted dining / function space on two floors with a raised deck and an island-style bar. This is ideal for private functions and lends itself perfectly to a wedding reception – something for which this venue is renowned.

It has to be said that in the early days, Beach Republic’s initial thrust was towards the young at heart and the late-night party scene. But, like all new ventures, once the dust had settled and everything had become established, the direction and the clientele emerged all by themselves, and in effect a whole new genre of Samui getaways had appeared. It was refined, up-market, sophisticated and easy. Instead of a pool parade of trendy fashionistas poised and posing to pounding tunes, a gamut of discerning patrons manifested themselves, and the club went on to become one of the most relaxed venues on the island.

Right from the start the intention was not just to create an indulgent poolside ambiance, but also to run this alongside a range of superb eats, too. The kitchen has always been overseen by some of the island’s top chefs, and the daytime menu has not only stood the test of time, but has continued to be expanded and refined. There’s a tantalising range of tapas and a big selection of salads, pizza and pasta, plus a selection of light and popular Thai plates, too. And even several seafood and fish platters for those for whom the daytime heat is not a deterrent. But it’s when that fiery orb begins to drop and the sky turns to orange and gold that the menu changes again.

Beach RepublicTo begin with, Beach Republic invites all citizens to indulge themselves at this time of day, in one way or another, with their Weekly Lineup which features a different inducement on every day of the week. For example it might be the Monday all-day free-flow – that’s three hours of non-stop wine, or beer or cocktails for only 999 baht. Or the Wicked Wednesday bottle service, 2-for-1, that runs alongside selected spirits beers and wines at 99 baht a glass. Or Fiesta Friday’s Montezuma’s Mojito Madness. And every single day there’s 2-for-1 on wines, beers and signature cocktails between the hours of 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm, anyway.

And all of these are an inducement to reach with even greater enthusiasm for the fully-featured dinner menu. The ingredients used here are prime – Australian grass-fed beef, lamb from the same nation, Tasmanian and Scottish salmon. Heading the seafood section are the superb Andaman Sea lobsters. Pizzas are truly Italian and super-crispy. The pasta is gourmet, with lobster, lamb and truffles as stars of the show. Plus the desserts are to die for – with caramelised apple tart, molten chocolate fondant, banoffee, cheesecake and crème brûlée all screaming “eat me!” at the same time. This menu is in place every evening.

Beach RepublicBut there are a couple of special nights that run in parallel with this that are particularly worthy of note. Every Wednesday look out for the President’s Seafood BBQ which runs between 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm. The area is transformed by the big ice-boat that’s filled with lobsters, prawns, squid, blue crab, green mussels and sea bass, all sold by weight. Take your pick and then decide how you want it prepared. Plain BBQ with salad? Or get into the swing and try it with red or green curry. Or chopped and stir-fried in one of several ways. Or even get it ‘souped’ – prepared for your table as tom yum or tom ka. Plus of course there are all the usual suspects in the form of the salad bar, jacket potatoes, corn on the cob and various meat skewers.

And then the following evening it’s Big Fish Thursday. This is easy to put in words but impossible to imagine: it’s one gigantic silver platter filled with salmon steak, lobster, mussels, crab prawns, snapper and squid, together with a selection of salads and sides. It’s actually for two people, but you’ll need to be determined. It’s huge! And at just 1,990 ++ it’s deliciously-priced, too. But then it’s just one of the many gastronomic pleasures that are sitting waiting for you in Lamai, at Beach Republic!

Rob De Wet

For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7745 8100.
www.beachrepublic.com