Samui Wining & Dining
HEAVEN ON A DECK
Karma Resort’s RockPool, recently had a shake up in the way of a new and innovative chef, David Lloyd.


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Sitting on the expansive deck suspended over the rock pools and ocean below, it’s hard to picture a more perfect setting. Here, white tables with comfortable armchairs upholstered in shades of teal and neutrals reflect the surrounding environment. Barstools are set at a wooden balustrade at the front – the perfect spot for sun-downers while sharing a platter of oysters, which RockPool is famous for.

      Upon arriving at Karma, you’re immediately whisked away in a golf cart and driven down to the beachside cliffs where the restaurant is perched. Close enough to Chaweng for easy access, yet far enough to avoid the crowds, you’ll find the well-signposted Karma and RockPool along the road connecting Chaweng with Choeng Mon Beach.

 RockPool has long had a reputation for its high-quality cuisine.

         But just as everyone thought it couldn’t get any better, the restaurant acquired a new chef, David Lloyd, at the end of 2012. David is a breath of fresh air, like the breeze that cools the deck of RockPool. He brings with him not only a positive attitude and fantastic rapport with his customers, but also an innovative approach to cooking. When David speaks about food, it’s with true passion and his eyes light up.

          So a good restaurant is about many things. Setting is important, and RockPool has that, no doubt about it. Professional service from charming staff also makes for a memorable evening, and General Manager, Alan Floate, has trained his staff well. They’re genuinely friendly and attentive, yet unobtrusive. And last, but most certainly not least, the food can make or break an establishment. In this case, it makes it.

          This excerpt from a recent TripAdvisor review is quite fitting,and sums up David and his approach to cooking quite aptly, “My wife commented on how calm the chef appeared in the open kitchen. No noise or conversation interfered with our dining experience, which can often occur if the chef is a prima donna and highly strung - David Lloyd is certainly not the latter. He is a chef that cares that his customers get a great experience, and I noted that he visited each table throughout the night, a nice caring touch. He was willing to discuss briefly his methods when it came to Thai food and modern cuisine and recommended a cookbook to me, thank you chef, I am still looking for it. All up, an absolute must while on Samui, highly recommended, enjoy!” And we’ve heard how David has offered recipes to other guests who’ve particularly enjoyed a dish – not too many chefs are willing to part with their trade secrets!

          Although David enjoys experimenting with molecular gastronomy, he firmly believes that a chef needs a good foundation of cooking methods first, before fiddling with modern techniques. David has a base in French cuisine, learnt from his impressive background in gourmet kitchens in the UK – specialising

          in catering for distinguished functions and events, and consulting in the opening of new fine-dining restaurants.

           As GM, Alan, says, “People eat out at a fine-dining restaurant for different reasons. Some do so for the food. Others for a romantic evening with a loved one, and others to enjoy a beautiful setting with good food and good friends. Everyone wants something different, and it’s our job to make sure that everyone gets what they want from the evening, and more.” David agrees and says, “First impressions count with food. Not just the taste, but also the look and the smell.” He wants people to be ‘wowed’ by his food and remember it for all the right reasons – it should be pretty on the plate, but taste fantastic too. David enjoys playing with textures, and has brought his own equipment from the UK to help him create them.

           But enough about the chef, and a little on what you can expect from him at RockPool. If you’re after a lazy Sunday, be sure to try the Gourmet Sunday Brunch buffet, with a strong focus on seafood, both local and freshly flown-in. There’s prawns, salmon, gravlax, scallops, sushi and sashimi on the seafood front. No Sunday lunch would be complete without roasts, and here you’ll always find two or three on the buffet along with all the accompaniments. Firm favourites are the pork belly croquettes and scotch eggs. And you’ll also find four or five Thai dishes too. Brunch is served from noon until 4:00 pm, and diners are welcome to enjoy the swimming pool, so you can linger between courses and make space for more.

          Oyster-lovers won’t be disappointed at RockPool, long known for its oyster menu. Here, you’ll find more than the basic ‘squirt-of-lemon-and-a-grind-ofblack- pepper’ option, with an assortment of interesting varieties. The oysters themselves are flown in alive and fresh from Australia, the USA, Ireland and France, and shucked to order. Try the Kilpatrick, cooked with bacon, tomato and Tabasco, or the watermelon, with watermelon sorbet and yuzu tapioca to name just a couple.

           But it’s with RockPool’s a la carte menu that David really shows off his flare for fabulous food. The menu is well-balanced, with options for meat, seafood and poultry lovers, as well as appealing options for vegetarians. And evening alfresco dining wouldn’t be complete without an interesting salad. A sure-fire choice that will get your taste buds dancing is the ‘beetroot, goats cheese and local honeycomb salad’. This ‘ode to beetroot’ shows off this versatile vegetable’s many facets, as it’s presented roasted, pureed, as tiny jelly pearls and even as a sorbet. The sweetness of the honeycomb perfectly compliments the goats cheese. But with each dish deserving its own detailed and mouth-watering description, it’s best to give David’s evening menu a try for yourself, and be pleasantly surprised not only by the flavours, but by the ‘Picasso on a plate’ presentation.

           Of course a chef needs quality ingredients. Not only does David source his both locally and abroad, but also from a unique location. General Manager, Alan, is co-owner of a farm in Chiang Mai. Here they produce sausages of pork, chicken and beef as well as smoked meats and fish, and even make their own foie gras. Having a hand in the direct source of their products means that quality will never be compromised – every chef’s dream.

           With Alan’s firm but relaxed control of the floor, (well deck actually) and David at the helm of the open kitchen, RockPool can only flourish and continue to please its constant flow of happy guests. But as magazines can’t actually print tastes, smells and gentle breezes over a moonlit bay, you’ll need to try it yourself to truly appreciate it.

          

 Rosanne Turner

 

 


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