Samui Wining & Dining
Speaking Volumes

Enjoying ‘High Tea by the Sea’ at The Page is a novel experience.

72Too many of us are stressed out and, even if we’re on holiday, it’s hard to let go of our nagging worries. Meanwhile, we fall into routines that aren’t quite what we want, going to the same places and eating the same food, time and time again. Sometimes it makes sense to take a break and really just let go of our preconceptions. It’s good to go somewhere, for example, that’s completely different. Somewhere that does things in an unexpected way. Even something that appears quite ordinary, like enjoying ‘tea-time’.

If you head south down the middle section of Chaweng Beach Road, just past Tropical Murphy’s on the left you’ll come to a place that’s gained a reputation for being one of the most innovative places on Samui. It’s called The Library, and turns out to be a resort. You go in through a short driveway, where you’ll see a small guardhouse and on top there’s a white mannequin, casually reading a book. Continue walking and the driveway angles round and you find yourself in front of a huge grey wall. But right at its centre there’s a big gap that seems to frame what’s beyond it: a lush green garden with the sea just at the end. Step through this gap and you’ll be instantly transported into a different world from the busy Chaweng outside. And you’ll immediately feel the difference. There’s plenty of space here and it’s not filled with a million different distractions like the road you’ve just left. It’s all very relaxing.

And as you head down the path, you’ll pass cube-like buildings, which are the guest rooms. They’re chic and stylish, and are set well back from the central path. The style at The Library is definitely minimalist. Not every designer gets it right but here it’s spot on.

As you get closer to the sea, on your left you can glimpse a real library, done out in pure white. It’s a contrast to the swimming pool which has an unexpected red colour. The restaurant itself is on your immediate right. It’s called The Page and follows the theme of books and printing that The Library’s chosen as a leitmotiv. You’ll see more of the mannequins here and there, and they’re reading books, too. You may by now by wondering about the real-life designers behind the concept. And, no, they’re not obsessed bibliophiles but simply people who recognize that reading books is part of a good holiday; it’s what people do when they have time for themselves. You can see by now that The Library isn’t about literary pursuits; it’s all about being relaxed. No matter what the mannequins are doing, they’re all relaxed and some are laid-back, literally.

The Page is right by the beach and has both a fan-cooled, wide-open room and an air-conditioned section for those devastatingly hot days. But, since there’s almost always a sea breeze, you may opt to sit outside on the expansive decking. You can even sit on the beach itself on massive bean bags and be within metres of the sea.

Since the restaurant is part of the resort, it’s open all day and every day from early morning until last food orders at 10:30 pm. But, if you come between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm, you can partake of what The Page calls ‘High Tea by the Sea’. You may have unfortunate memories of wind-swept hotels back home where the sandwiches and cakes looked and tasted as if they were made out of cardboard. But high tea here is utterly different. The Page makes sure, for a start, that all its food is truly tasty and it’s also given a vibrant spin to the whole idea of tea-time; the fairly stodgy tradition emerges as an almost brand-new meal. It’s safe to say you’ll have seen nothing like this before.

At this point, it’s necessary to mention that the minimalist theme doesn’t extend to the food. There are no gigantic white plates containing meagre offerings. The portions are generous and you’ll leave with a satisfied and full stomach – think quality and quantity. Order the ‘high tea for two’ and wait for some surprises. The first of which is that you won’t be given any sandwiches. Instead, you’ll each find two mini-beef burgers along with a small glass filled with slivers of cheese. And whilst you eat the burgers you can nibble on the cheese, which comes in three varieties. So far, so delicious. Everything is served together and the way in which most of it is brought to you is also surprising and delightful. Your waiter or waitress brings an elongated wooden board to your table. It’s about a metre long and its whole length is decorated with beautifully-presented treats. 

But what exactly, you may be wondering, are these wonderfully artistic things? Well, each person gets a scone as well as banoffee pie with real whipped cream, panna cotta and chocolate fondue. And it’s actually quite difficult to finish everything that’s on the board. But you should make sure that you leave enough room for the delicious fruit tart which you can share (or possibly fight over!).

Needless to say, it all tastes every bit as good as it looks. A lot of artistry has gone into the presentation, whilst the light and delicious tastes will surprise you with their overwhelming freshness. And you won’t be surprised to learn that The Page has its very own bakery where all these goodies are produced.

The high tea was conceived as a romantic occasion but it also works well for two friends and you can also enjoy it as a group. And you’re welcome to linger for as long as you want; The Library encourages you to take your time. The staff are very welcoming and, even if this is a very chic resort, it’s not in the least intimidating; there’s a friendly atmosphere and everyone gets into relaxation mode very easily. When it’s time to make your way back through the gardens and to the bustling Chaweng Beach Road you won’t feel that the tea has weighed you down. As mentioned, the food is light, and doesn’t leave you with a bloated feel. And if you’ve enjoyed the tea, you may well want to return for its evening counterpart: dinner. It’s every bit as good.

 


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