Samui Wining & Dining

How Centara Grand’s new Coast Beach Bar & Grill redefines the concept of the beach club.

How Centara Grand’s new Coast Beach Bar & Grill redefines the concept of the beach club.

At one time, many of the high-end resorts here were ‘exclusive’. It was something they prided themselves on; they boasted about it. And then somebody must have given this a bit more thought. They must have realised that this was entirely the opposite of what they were trying to achieve. Yes, it’s a trendy buzz-word to throw into your press releases. Except for the fact that ‘unique’ or ‘highly individual’ is actually what they were trying to say. Because, after all, the very last thing that anybody wants to do is to exclude people. Every resort is looking to draw people in from the outside. It’s what they depend upon. It’s their life blood.


But there’s a lot of divergent thinking about all this. Some management gurus still argue that when you have one of the best reputations in the world for hospitality, then your name sells itself and people will pay anything you want to charge. But recently some of the best 5-star resorts have been approaching things in a different way. They know that their reputation is topnotch.

Therefore, if they adjust their costings downward instead of up, they’ll not only attract exactly the same clientele as before, but they’ll open their doors to a whole new sector, too. And that’s exactly what’s been happening at the prestigious Centara Grand Beach Resort, located at the southern end of Chaweng Beach Road.


Centara is no stranger to Samui, being one of the longest-established chunks of 5-star real estate on the island. It may not be an internationally-known household word, but in recent years it’s certainly shown itself to be one of the most progressive of all the major Thai brands. This is the company that recently gave us Central Festival Samui mall.How Centara Grand’s new Coast Beach Bar & Grill redefines the concept of the beach club.It could well have turned out to be a neon monolith, but instead proved to be a sensitive refinement on the theme, lending itself to the leafy and airy environs of our little island. And so it comes as no real surprise that for the last two years, the company has been carefully mulling over a scheme to re-vamp the entire food and beverage presence which emanates from its luxurious Chaweng resort.


The most visible result of this is the recently-established ‘Coast Beach Bar & Grill’. And it has to be said, with some of the paint still barely dry, this venture has made everyone notice, sit up, and take a really good look at what is now one of the most laid-back, modernistic and superbly affordable gourmet restaurants on the island.


The first thing that hits you is the fact that everything opens out as you go through the entrance. What appears to be a wooden deck with a very nice canopied dining area, expands outwards and into a whole nest of different levels, ranging from air-conditioned glass-walled chic to big sand pits with cushions and rows of scooped beds along the fringe of the sand. The cool, clean decor and styling is vaguely Mediterranean in flavour, with lots of white stucco, huge daybeds, scatter pillows, wooden decking, and steps up and down. I’ve seen it done on a much smaller scale, but here they’ve dug out great chunks of land and moved the beach sand onto them, somehow pulling the beach up and into this part of the resort!


That’s the setting. The food? Well, it’s the equal of anything you’ll come across on Samui and, at an informed guess, anywhere else in the world. Closer scrutiny reveals that there are several key areas: the air-con wine and cheese room, a very hip open-sided bar, an outside BBQ section, the air-conditioned glass-sided lounge, and an air-con pizzeria and grill room. How Centara Grand’s new Coast Beach Bar & Grill redefines the concept of the beach club.And each of these sources of gastronomic goodies produce delights which can be enjoyed in any of the areas already outlined.


The à la carte lunch menu features salads, pastas and risotto, gourmet burgers, and a light presentation of Thai dishes. The all-day offerings come at you in the form of various seafood selections, a variety of Japanese plates, ‘bitez’ (i.e. tapas!), woodfired hand-crafted pizzas, a huge selection of cheese exotica, a choice of any of a dozen lavish cold cuts, and a ‘market’ selection, which again are tapas-style mega-nibbles. And the evening dinner menu is a symposium of added extravagance, featuring lots of seafood and substantial portions of imported beef and pork cuts.


Every single menu and beverage item is ‘menued’ (all 1,300 items) via 40 iPad Air tablets with a specially-commissioned Centara menu program, complete with specially-commissioned shock-proof covers. And among what’s on offer, you’ll come across the sublime ‘St. James Smoked Salmon Salad’ – with romaine lettuce, toasted garlic baguette, crisp bacon, shaved parmesan cheese, anchovies in a classic Caesar dressing. This is 390 baht. Or ‘The Claw’ burger – crispy soft shell crab with Asian coleslaw and lime dressing at 380 baht. Maybe check out the ‘Tasmanian Pan-seared Salmon Steak’ on a tropical bed of ripe mangoes, tomatoes and coriander, which will set you back 590 baht.


And then there’s the Family Brunch. Every Sunday, with three different pricing tiers, there’s an-all-you-can-eat gourmet food fest, with free-flow drinks, featuring the best compilation of menu items plus a lot more. With a barbecue grill that’s as big as a tool shed (one of only two in the country) and with wandering ‘passadors’ rotating around every few minutes enticing you to consume more and more unendingly succulent still-sizzling morsels while you recline languidly in a horizontal cocoon-shaped beach-bed. Plus, on top of all of this, there are live shows and entertainment throughout the week.


If this was a ‘beach club’, it would be the tops. Even the recorded music that’s playing is cool and sweet, with not a trace of trance or dance to be heard, and it doesn’t blast the kebabs off your plate. This envious eatery has avoided labelling itself as anything. It’s simply ‘Coast’. It’s uniquely one of a kind – and not to be missed!


 Rob De Wet


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