The approach to this relaxed and highly professional restaurant, part of Buri Rasa Village Samui, is, to say the least, unexpected. Step straight out of the hubbub of central Chaweng, enter an amazing oasis of tranquillity, then take a scenic stroll through the ‘village’ itself, past the villas that lead down towards the sea. Finally, you’ll come to an old-fashioned set of doors, the colour of verdigris, which opens out onto the restaurant, The Beach Club.
It’s an open-sided dining room, which looks out onto a beautiful lawn with frangipani trees, and the sea itself. The restaurant is completed by a beach bar, which serves both traditional and creative cocktails. Guests can opt for the dining room, a small terrace by the sea, or perhaps best of all, gazebo-style tables on the beach, each a private world of its own. Calm reigns. People love it.
It has to be said that the words, ‘beach club’ tend to evoke some busy, on-going pool-party with stomping music. But here it’s the very opposite kind of affair; it’s laid-back, restful and very romantic. And no crowds at all, revving it up. There’s a single evening, Tuesdays, when an excellent seafood buffet with live cooking takes place on the beach front, but no more than this. Buri Rasa doesn’t belong to a big, anonymous hotel chain, but to a very niche group known as Rasa Hospitality. They run selected resorts, with Buri Rasa Village, Phangan, being the next closest. The teams who run the properties are of crucial importance, and are a big part of the reason why guests love returning to stay and to eat at them.
Buri Rasa Village, Samui, has just taken on a brand new manager, David White, who has long been involved with making sure that guests’ needs and wishes are met. You’re quite likely to meet him, as he’s very much the hands-on kind of manager, who personally sees that everything is running smoothly. He’s an approachable figure – as all the staff are. The welcoming spirit of both the resort and the restaurant means that everyone is treated as part of a family.
Asked what his plans are for the dining here, David says he has just implemented a new menu, with some delicious choices, whilst making sure that favourites remain. There’s both a lunch and dinner menu; lunch is lighter, offering a range of popular dishes, whilst dinner tends to offer both traditional and more creative variations. For dinner, try the Smoked Salmon Roulade – the salmon has been smoked for 24 hours, and comes with lemon mascarpone, marinated fennel, capers and salad. That’s just one of the starters; the mains are equally sumptuous, with fish dishes such as a char-grilled tuna steak with Mediterranean style vegetable caponata; tikka-spiced salmon fillet or, for meats, Australian spring lamb with white bean hummus, or fillet mignon, a prime tenderloin served with baby spinach, caramelized shallots, potato mash and a port wine jus. The Thai side offers equally sumptuous fare with, for example, a beautifully nuanced tom yung goong, a whole white snapper steamed with lemongrass or red curried duck.
David used to be a food critic, and as such has an eagle eye when it comes to presentation and taste. But as a hotelier, he also has to also think about finding exactly the right ingredients, ensuring that they’re fresh and of top quality and also getting the feedback of his guests. Then there’s the service – the staff and the whole social side that’s part of any resort where people spend their holidays. He has a background in hotels that stands him in good stead here; he knows how to fine-tune the on-going process of a resort, and improve it across the board.
Everything about dining at Buri Rasa spells professionalism. You’ll be pleased by the presentation, which is elegance itself; each dish seems to have been deeply considered not only for how it’s made or what goes into it, but also how it looks on the plate. At lunch, classic fish and chips, for example, arrives in a Thai-style fish steamer, rather than on the usual boring white plate, while a trio of tod man pla comes to the table skewered with stalks of lemon grass so you can eat them with your hands. Small grace notes like these – there are plenty of others – are indicative of the general approach here at Buri Rasa Village, Samui.
The menu sets high expectations that are met by the extensive dishes, and consists of both Thai and international fare. The best of two very separate worlds, therefore, but each is rendered with consummate expertise. Everything’s good, in other words.
Menu highlights include the long-established seafood basket, designed for sharing between two people. They offer three different versions – each has more dishes than the one before. The baskets include grilled items such as lobster, sea bass, salmon, oysters and crab, along with stir-fried or steamed fish. It’s a copious amount of food, all of it delicious. Seafood baskets start at 3,200 baht, with the granddaddy of them all at 3,900 baht per couple. A bottle of wine comes with each basket, ideally paired, of course. (A similar option without the wine also exists.) An added bonus of ordering the seafood basket is you dine in a private sala, on the beach, under the stars – a truly romantic setting. Salas are limited, so it is a good idea to make a booking and request the seafood basket.
The restaurant also offers private fine dining, and can cater for parties and gatherings for up to 60 people – plated dinners or buffets. Incidentally, many different kinds of weddings are held here, right on the beach.
The Beach Club with its oasis feel, great selection of affordable delights and helpful staff leaves a deep, favourable impression on diners who come here. Hardly surprising that so many guests like to return here for the food and drink, while the setting, quiet and laid-back, soon begins to work a soothing magic all of its own.
For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7795 6055.