Samui Wining & Dining
Rocky’s Boutique Resort Koh Samui is making things better for guests
at The Dining Room and Bistro Modern.

Rocky’s Boutique Resort Koh Samui is making things even better for guests at The Dining Room and Bistro Modern.There’s an old Zen-like saying: ‘When you get to the summit, keep on going.’ What!? It’s hard enough to get to the top, and surely when you get there, isn’t it time to relax a bit? Or even a lot? Of course. But if you want to really stand out from the competition, then you have to go even further, impossible as that may seem. Resorts and restaurants on Samui have certainly taken this on board and always somehow manage to continually improve.


When you walk round Rocky’s Boutique Resort, you’ll be hard-pressed to know what, if anything, could possibly be improved. The resort has gone through numerous overhauls and is utterly different from its beginnings at the turn of this century. Every square centimetre looks in pristine condition. But improvement is in the pipeline. “We want to take the property to the next level,” says Stefano Leone, Rocky’s chef, “and that means the general approach, the service and the restaurants all have to be in tiptop form and more.” It’s not just a question of taking on any shortcomings that can be found, but also looking at what’s already great and then doing even better.


Chef Stefano is able to see the big picture as well as all the tiny bits that go to make it up. It’s a little like looking at a finished jigsaw puzzle and seeing exactly what’s depicted as well as knowing how all the pieces dovetail together. Stefano operates at a level of dining which would mean a white-knuckle ride for most of us. He knows that some small, apparently insignificant detail could bring the culinary house down. And everyone in his team from dishwasher to cook also has to be aware of the same pitfalls. Watch Stefano in his kitchen at The Dining Room and you just know that his attention is 100% on the food and cooking. And yet when someone casually drops in wearing the wrong footwear, he’s suddenly pointing it out. He’s not being obsessive; Rocky’s Boutique Resort Koh Samui is making things even better for guests at The Dining Room and Bistro’s just a principle of hygiene. And then you really begin to notice how clean the kitchen is, even during operations – the word immaculate springs to mind.


Stefano works and thinks with the same unvarying attention to both the tiny specifics of food – how, for example, white snapper should be sliced – and the general, all-encompassing whole – does the restaurant’s architecture need improving? How could seating be better? And so on. This is why he’s a master chef.


Guest satisfaction is top of his list, and before any food is even served or for that matter, even prepared, he has to think of the ambience that the diners will be experiencing. He says it himself, a kind of motto that he sticks by, “To entertain guests is to make yourself responsible for their happiness so long as they’re beneath your roof.” You can’t expect a guest to know whether their fish has been sliced according to 5-star principles, but Stefano himself knows and has trained all his staff to know. In addition, all the staff are trained to be helpful to guests. They’ll offer a warm welcome and are on hand just when you need them. They won’t hover, but they’ll anticipate your needs. The food has to be dependable, always excellent, with dishes that are well-presented and mouth-watering.


Dining at Rocky’s is therefore very much influenced by the chef himself. Stefano was chosen as management knew he’d be more than capable of ensuring brilliant results. Like many a true professional, he makes everything seem very easy, or at least laid-back. He has a quick wit, surely as honed as his knives, and you can see he likes to laugh. He loves to be surrounded, he says, by good food and wine, and to generally celebrate life.Rocky’s Boutique Resort Koh Samui is making things even better for guests at The Dining Room and Bistro Modern. He grew up in Italy and is well-travelled, meaning that his journeys and what he’s seen and eaten on them have percolated down into inspiration for the food that he makes. He’s fluent in English, French and Italian, and cooks at Michelin-star level. His basic approach is one of farm to table: optimum products coming from optimum places and delivered in optimum times – think utterly fresh and tasty.


Rocky’s is known across the island and further afield for the excellence of its food. You might think that the mere presence of a master chef might lead dining here to being, well, a bit pretentious. But this just isn’t the case at all. There are two separate restaurants. Both are indeed elegant, but without any ostentation. In other words you can relax in them. You’re at home, as Stefano says, so take your time, linger. Your job is to enjoy the food and the atmosphere, after all.


Let’s start with the first of the restaurants that you come to as you walk down the slopes that Rocky’s is set on. Bistro Modern has an unusual approach; you cross a stone bridge that funnels a stream through the property, and which brings you to a beautiful swimming pool. (And yes, if you eat here, you’re welcome to use it to your heart’s content.) By its side, you’ll see the restaurant, a large, welcoming open-air pavilion offering simple luxury and an indisputably good menu. It’s open every day both for lunch and dinner, making this a prime place to stop off if you’re touring the island. You can eat by the pool or inside the Thai-inspired dining room. Rocky’s Boutique Resort Koh Samui is making things even better for guests at The Dining Room and Bistro Modern.The menu’s in the process of being upgraded, and now features the best of modern Tuscan and Provencal-influenced cuisine as well as Thai dishes. The Italian oven and stove produces mouth-watering pizzas, and there’s a variety of fish and meats that will satisfy even the choosiest of diners. You can also enjoy a range of sandwiches such as roast Black Angus, or a tuna niçoise tartine. For something more substantial, opt for Trota in Crosta di Noci, or walnutincrusted rainbow trout in fresh tarragon with a pinot beurre blanc and sautéed fresh spinach. Bistro Modern is incidentally very child friendly, and if you are bringing your children, you can be sure that they will be very well looked after.


Further down, and right by the sea, you’ll find The Dining Room, set on a wonderfully private beach where it commands great views of the surrounding area. It’s incredibly beautiful here at night fall, and diners often start off their evening at the poolside bar next to the restaurant. You can eat in the very tasteful interior – it’s a sala open to cooling breezes and has the same sea views – or right on the rocks themselves at candlelit tables (you’ll definitely need to reserve these in advance, by the way). The Dining Room is open every evening for dinner, and offers classical French cuisine with a modern twist, using state of the art techniques and equipment such as sous-vide and thermo mix, and using exceptionally good ingredients. You can enjoy very varied dishes, such as a roasted breast of quail stuffed with foie gras, crispy quail legs, potato purée, artichoke, shoyu and quail jus, or a beef Rossini, with seared Alan François foie gras and fillet mignon, wilted baby spinach, tarragon glazed carrots and Madeira sauce.


Incidentally, above the restaurant there’s also a beautifully-appointed meeting room, decorated in Thai style with antiques and paintings, ideal for meetings of any kind, including social gatherings from birthday parties to weddings. Rocky’s is a noted spot for weddings. With a romantic cove and wonderful food and drink, it’s ideal for any reception. Many couples have come here to tie the knot and celebrate with friends and family.


The Dining Room and Bistro Modern both showcase what a great chef can do, given free rein. These two quite different restaurants both offer the best in quality dining and are sure to please. But if you’re lucky enough to live on the island, each time you come back, you’ll notice how they have improved – and simply keep on doing so.


 Dimitri Waring


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