Samui Wining & Dining
The Patio Restaurant offers fine dining in an amazing setting.


A few decades ago, a local entrepreneur, Khun Virach Pongchababnapa, was wondering what to do with a bit of beachfront land that he’d inherited. This was in Lamai and a few tourists were starting to turn up on the island. He built a few huts. Business was good and he ended up with a resort, and over the years it began to get more and more sophisticated. For accommodation in Lamai, the prestigious Pavilion Samui Boutique Resort has, for the last 20 years and more, been one of the finest places to stay. The Pavilion is resolutely contemporary and could easily feature in one of those coffee table books featuring the hippest of hotels. Its clean, modern lines please the eye, and as for accommodation itself, it would be hard to beat.


The same goes for the food. Khun Virach has always believed in eating well, and has from the early days managed to find some extraordinary chefs, who have led him on a culinary journey that matched the entrepreneurial one he was already taking. One of Samui’s most creative restaurants was born, The Patio.


The Patio Restaurant is situated at the more easterly end of Lamai, and has a commanding waterfront location, making it an extremely relaxed place. You’ll easily see it if you turn off the ring-road to follow the beach road through Lamai as you head toward Nathon. The Patio serves Italian and Thai cuisine, cooked exactly right, making it the very best fine dining experience. It’s housed in one of Samui’s most beautiful wooden buildings, a pavilion made almost entirely of rich tropical hardwoods, and a deep russet red in colour. It overlooks the sea, and is an amazing place to watch the sun go down.


The restaurant’s extremely well designed and crafted,with the design having its origins in Chinese architecture. However, it’s thoroughly contemporary, too. It appears at once deeply simple yet complex, with tropical wood beams adding not heaviness but a lightness to the building. It’s as intriguing to the eye as anything that artist M.C. Escher could have created. Water features abound, giving an additional gracefulness to the restaurant. You can dine outside on the patio itself, or inside – but wherever you choose, you’ll be aware you’re in stylish but laid-back surroundings.


At night it’s lit by huge lanterns that hang from the teak ceiling and all the tables have candles. This means you have enough light to see clearly by and the atmosphere remains intimate. This might seem a trivial point, but a lot of restaurants struggle to get the lighting correct, and it’s no easy task. The Patio succeeds and brings a relaxed ambience to any dinner here. You’re well-looked after here with friendly and knowledgeable staff who speak excellent English.


The Patio has both a Thai menu and an International one, which focusses on Italian dishes. It’s very hard to make recommendations, as the food is extraordinarily good. Even what appears to be a quite simple and unremarkable dish turns out to be sumptuous. The humbly-named Pavilion Soup becomes a gourmet treat in the hands of the chef; he adds calamari, prawns, tomatoes and carrots to make a dish that seems to be more than the sum of its culinary parts. You’ll be surprised at how tasty a soup like this can become.


Tord Man Pla – think spicy fish cakes – a Thai favourite is a starter that delights with its spiciness and comes in large portions, served on banana leaves, along with pineapple chunks and a dipping sauce of peanut, cucumber, chilli and palm sugar.


You’ll find a pizza oven at the restaurant too, and a whole range of purely Italian treats. Naturally you’ll find lots of pasta, including several vegetarian options. But if you want to see how good fusion food can be, then opt for tom-yum goong with spaghetti. It’s a perfectly balanced dish that seems to have its roots in both Italy and Thailand at one and the same time. Nothing clashes here, and each of the flavours only enhances the others. Like all the dishes, the portions are on the generous side.


There’s plenty of choice for meat-lovers, too, with a range of dishes that include steaks and other meat treats. Desserts are every bit as good as the starters and mains, only a lot more decadent, and are hand-crafted delights in themselves.


The Patio also offers a variety of entertainment, too, and includes a popular Thai night on Mondays, with Thai dancing accompanied by live music played on traditional instruments. The dancers are all dressed in traditional clothing and it’s a chance to enjoy a bit of Thai culture. And while you watch, you can enjoy a sumptuous Thai buffet. The first drink is complimentary, by the way.


If you’re looking for something truly special for a loved one, then try The Patio’s Romantic Dinner on the Beach, whereby you and your partner dine right on the sands in a beautifully-decorated gazebo. (For this, you’ll need to reserve your place 24 hours in advance.) With floral décor and Prosecco wine, this will be a wonderful evening to remember.


Close by, there are two bars, the Scenic Bar which is set in its own octagonal open-air sala, and the Look-Out Bar, facing the beach. Both afford fine views of Lamai Bay, and are great places to hang out and simply relax, which is what the Pavilion is all about.


The cost of eating here is very affordable, representing exceptionally good value for money. You’ll be pleased that you came. And with its exceptionally large menu, you’ll be motivated to come back to The Patio Restaurant and enjoy still more of the chefs’ dishes.


 Dimitri Waring


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