HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Bang Saray Club

“Wind in the Willows” : Alive and relevant a century later

Soi 6 to close off traffic for 3 nights in celebration of Mother’s Day in August

The Bang Saray Club

A seaside surprise!

After being invited to attend a function at the Bang Saray Club, the Dining Out Team decided we should visit the restaurant to experience the food ourselves at this seaside venue. Like most people in Pattaya, we had been to the large seafood restaurants in Bang Saray, but the Bang Saray Club looked to be quite different.

First off - how to get there. The turn-off to Bang Saray on Sukhumvit Road is around 25 km from Central Pattaya, or more exactly, 8.7 km past Ambassador City Jomtien. Now follow the road as it winds around until you come to the wat just before the sea, and immediately turn left as you pass the wat. You are one street before the seafront. Around 1 km along look for the Bang Saray Club sign on the right. You have made it.

The restaurant has an interesting history, being once the Officers’ Mess for the US Forces when they were building U-tapao in the late ’60s. It later became the headquarters for the Bang Saray International Game Fishing Club, but as the fish became scarcer, the club slowly died. In 1996, the owners of The Travel Clinic, David and Suwanna Goulden, took on the task of restoring the run-down premises to something of its former glory.

These days, it is a well ventilated building overlooking the water. The decor consists of climbing plants dotted around the room, and at the far end is a sit-up bar. It is not the Ritz, but it is clean and bright.

The menu is a simple two-sided laminated number - Farang style on one side and Thai style on the other. Beginning with the Farang side, there are starters with salads, soup, prawn cocktails and pate (around B. 60-175), then several BBQ items with sausages, spare ribs, chicken, NZ lamb and seafood platters (B. 130 through to B. 475). There are seafood specialties around B. 250 for most and weekend specials with mussels B. 200 at the low end and lamb shank braised in red wine at B. 375 at the top end.

Flipping the page over, there are the Thai items, with their Poocha at B. 100 first in line. Specialties (B. 200-350) include a US beef massaman and mixed seafood noodles. Other seafood items range in price between B. 200 (squid and lemongrass) to a number at B. 350 (prawn, crab and rock lobster items). Other individual items are generally around B. 100 including chicken in oyster sauce and stuffed omelette.

The wine list is not extensive, but is generally under B. 1000 per bottle. We stuck with the house wine which was an Australian Chardonnay at B. 150 per glass. By the way, if you BYO there is a corkage charge.

We tried a variety of items, beginning with the Poocha, a mix of crab and minced pork, egg and soy sauce, deep-fried in the crab shell - and it was sensational! Do try it. We also had de-shelled rock lobster in garlic, that was so good we cleaned this plate too. Then we had a poached king fish in oyster sauce with basil, which again was superb. And again the plate was cleaned! Finally we had sliced NZ sirloin done Thai style with a special sauce. Another tour de force and another tribute to the skills of the chef.

The Dining Out Team thoroughly enjoyed our evening at the Bang Saray Club. The venue is very basic, but the food was certainly not. It was of an excellent standard, and quite a different style from the usual Bang Saray seafood restaurants. Quite frankly, many of the dishes would not have been out of place in some of Pattaya’s upmarket restaurants. The food shows the many years of experience of the chef, a remarkable lady who has worked at the Bang Saray Club, in all of its guises, for more years than she would like to remember. This place is a real ‘sleeper’ - not cheap, but well worth the drive. Go and enjoy the sea air and the relaxed dining. Highly recommended.

The Bang Saray Club, Bang Saray, telephone 038 436 098, 01 625 6150, closed Mondays.

“Wind in the Willows” : Alive and relevant a century later

by Peter Cummins

“There is nothing half as much worth doing, as simply messing about in boats,” the Water Rat - “Ratty” - counselled his new-found friend the Mole, on learning that “Moley” had never been in a boat before.

Brian D. Barnes: One Man Theatre at the Sheraton Grande recently.

These lines from Kenneth Grahame’s ageless classic, “The Wind in the “Willows”, published almost 100 years ago in 1908, have been quoted a myriad times. Even this Pattaya Mail correspondent has added a touch of mortality to them, having used the phrase innumerable times in his incessant writing about yachts, boats and boating.

But they came to life with charming reality recently at the splendid programme featured by the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Arts Theatre, when world-renowned “One Man Theatre” Brian D. Barnes gave his solo performance of the work, playing, consecutively, the Water Rat, the Mole, Mr Toad, and Mr Badger.

Brian Barnes, euphemistically called the “jet-setting minstrel”, is one of the very rare actors who can dedicate their creative energy exclusively to solo performing. Brian has performed in some 80 countries world-wide, often associated with the cultural programmes of the British Council.

First conceived as a children’s story, which it certainly is and always will be, the “Wind in the Willows”, however, is also an in-depth look at humanity itself, with its foibles, idiosyncrasies and deceits. The tale creates a world peopled with woodland and river-bank creatures, only too recognizable and identifiable among one’s own circle of friends and acquaintances: Ratty, the intelligent and friendly Water Rat always positive about the creatures around him in everyday life; the loveable, naive and enthusiastic Mole, the boastful, wealthy and totally irresponsible Mr Toad and the helpful, loyal and shy Mr Badger.

Brian held a totally spell-bound audience at the Arts Theatre, using no props, only voice impersonations, facial expressions, body movements, a chair or two and a sheet. How different to the fare spooned out on movies, television and other ‘weapons of mass distraction’ where the actors are buoyed by so many accoutrements, gadgetry and gimmicks.

It is highly cognizant of the human condition, when Mr Toad becomes infatuated with the motor car then ends up in prison, but escapes to return his home at Toad Hall, only to find that ‘dark forces’ from the Wild Wood have invaded his hearth. The four friends unite to drive out the invaders. Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?

Even very early in its publication, a critic, Richard Middleton, writing in “Vanity Fair” said: “The book for me is notable for its delicate expression of emotions ... the characters are neither animals nor men, but are types of that deeper humanity which sways us all.”

Interviewed recently by the director, Bonnie Hurren, Brian described the “One Man Theatre” thus: “As the art of multiple impersonation, I have to convey the impression that I’m conversing with characters who aren’t there. A narrator helps to keep the story flowing and, like a variety artist, I direct a lot to the audience. It’s chamber theatre and the technique demands an intimate auditorium.”

This is the perfect description of the performance, right down to the “intimate auditorium” detail. The Sheraton Arts Theatre is a seductive setting and, throughout the year, in the hotel’s endeavour to bring culture and accessible entertainment to Bangkokians, the Theatre features opera, vaudeville, plays and special events.

“The Wind in the Willows” was jointly sponsored by the Sheraton Grande and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Bangkok-based UN organization. All proceeds from the event were donated to the Kevorkian Foundation (Baan Nor Giank) for children victims of HIV/AIDS.

Having heard it “in person”, I now look forward to the next occasion when I can reproduce Ratty’s phrase “messing about in boats”.

Soi 6 to close off traffic for 3 nights in celebration of Mother’s Day in August

Songklod Kaewvisit

HM the Queen’s 6th cycle or 72nd birthday celebrations will be held around the nation on August 12 this year. Some of the businesses in Soi 6 off Pattaya Second Road have planned a three day festival featuring Muay Thai boxing, beauty pageants, singing contests and performance by local schools from August 11 to 13 to mark Her Majesty’s birthday.

Business owners attending the meeting agreed that closing the soi to traffic during the festival would be a good idea.

At a recent committee meeting business operators met at the Queen Victoria Inn on Soi 6 to hammer out the details of the 3-day festival. It was decided that the soi will be closed to traffic from 2 p.m. until midnight, effectively creating a ‘Walking Street’ atmosphere in which activities on four stages can be held safely.

Three of the stages will be run by business operators in the soi while the fourth stage will hold Muay Thai demonstrations and boxing matches from the Sityodtong School, run by Yodtong Senanant.

Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat will preside over the official Mother’s Day ceremonies, scheduled to be held at 8 p.m. on August 12.

The idea has received sponsorship from local business owners and Carlsberg in the interest of drawing more people to the soi over the 3-day period to promote Pattaya’s varied nightlife.

Alternative parking for visitors and residents is being discussed while the soi is closed off to traffic through the three-day festival.

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