Samui Wining & Dining
WOW FACTOR
The Cliff Bar & Grill has being wowing Samui’s diners for nine years.


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The name is apt. As it suggests, The Cliff Bar & Grill is perched atop a cliff overlooking the small coves between Chaweng and Lamai. And if it’s a classic island view you’re after, you couldn’t pick a better spot. On a perfect day, the colours are so intense, it’s as though the scene has been ‘Photo-shopped’. Your eyes flicker between the vivid turquoise ocean below with bright kayaks paddling in the calm waters, vibrant local fishing boats in blue, red and orange and the cerise bougainvillea of the manicured gardens, set amid giant boulders leading to the ocean. Visit during the evening and you’re rewarded with an equally inspiring view, as the moon is reflected in the ocean, highlighting the palm trees and fishing boats.

      Now many establishments with such an idyllic view would simply rest on their laurels, letting other important factors such as the food and service slip, relying on the view to draw the customers in. Sure, a good view may bring them in once, but it’s the food, ambience and service that will keep them coming back. Those that visit Samui each year will notice an ever-evolving island, with new restaurants, bars and hotels pushing out older places that no longer make the grade. But there are a few places that stick around – because they are consistently good. A good restaurateur

understands that just because a venue was once popular, it doesn’t mean it will always be - unless the quality of food, service and ambience are maintained. Well, The Cliff has been a firm favourite on the island since it was established in 2004, growing from strength to strength each year, a clear indication that owner Bradley Munns and General Manager, Lionel Helena know how to keep guests happy.

       And adding to the winning formula is Head Chef, Sergio Martelli, who’s been with The Cliff since it opened. Hailing from Italy, he moved to Thailand 14 years ago, and specialises in Mediterranean cuisine, with a flair for sophisticated Italian cuisine. His Italian menu is available for lunch or dinner, either on the 28-seater deck over-looking the bay, or in the stylish, airconditioned dining room with expansive windows that make the most of the view. Sergio believes in using only organic vegetables, which he flies in daily from Bangkok, and seafood is delivered daily from the local fishermen – which is what one would expect from an establishment so close to the sea. He’s a whizz with seafood, which explains why the various seafood platters are so popular

          Peruvian chef, Adrian Torres, joined The Cliff’s strong team three years ago, adding a new dimension to the dining experience. Adrian oversees the tapas menu, served from noon till 7:00 pm, popular as a lunch option while enjoying the view. With experience working in Peru, Spain, Cuba and New Zealand, he brings a fresh, simple approach to The Cliff’s kitchen, perfectly complimenting the sophisticated menu compiled by Chef Sergio.

          The look of the restaurant is elegant, yet relaxed. Dress code is casual – we’re on an island after all. Yet the food and service match any fine-dining establishment, without the fuss and pomp. Inside, the dining lounge is light and airy, with dark-wood tables, terrazzo floors, bamboo ceilings with slowly whirling fans, quirky artwork and oversized tropical flower arrangements. An assortment of awards is proudly displayed on the walls too, including the Thailand Tatler’s Best Restaurant, several years running. The cigar bar and lounge is a great place to while-away the time over a cocktail or good glass of wine from the vast selection. And be sure to pop in on Friday and Saturday nights for live music from 8:00 pm. Unlike some Samui venues, parking is no problem at The Cliff, there’s more than enough, even when a crowd gathers. Oh, and if you’re after a table on the terrace, it’s wise to book in advance as these are prized and sought after seats.

          With its jaw-dropping view, impeccable service, inspiring food and ample space, The Cliff makes an ideal venue for small to medium-sized functions such as weddings, birthday parties and corporate events. Management will assist in customising a menu suited to your guests and the occasion.

          So what can you expect from the menu, compiled by Chef Sergio and Chef Adrian? The lighter tapas menu is ideal for lunch or early evenings – order an assortment and share – tapas style. The Mediterranean salad with manchego cheese and sun-dried tomatoes is delicious, as is the Spanish tortilla with aioli sauce. There’s a selection of imported Spanish hams and chorizo, as well as homemade marinated Spanish black olives. Seafood plays a big part in any tapas menu, and here, the deep-fried calamari is a winner. General Manager, Lionel, is partial to the tuna balls in a pomodoro sauce, and he recommends their Chilean house wine to compliment the tapas menu. If you’re unsure what to go for, there are several ‘chef’s selection’ platters to take the stress out of choosing.

          On the main menu there’s a distinct Italian flavour. And no Italian menu would be complete without a selection of freshly baked breads. Chef Sergio prides himself on his bread-making skills, from breadsticks to bruschetta flavoured with herbs, cheese and tomatoes. The menu has a good selection of appetisers and salads, including fiery Portuguese piri piri prawns – not for the faint-hearted!

          Main courses offer a selection for all tastes, from fresh seafood to chicken as well as red meat dishes and of course, pasta. The beef is flown in from Australia, and lamb chops from New Zealand. Only the best will do with these chefs, so meat is not frozen, but flown in chilled and well-aged, as a good steak should be.

          For those that live here and those that are regular visitors, it’s good to know that some things will never change. Like friendly locals, coconuts galore, sizzling summers and wet Novembers – and The Cliff, standing as firmly as the giant boulders it’s constructed on.

          

 Rosanne Turner

 

 


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