A Year of Dining Out

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Every year at this time, the Dining Out Team sits down to agree (or disagree) on our year’s reviews.  This is not an easy task, as in many instances with restaurants, you are comparing apples and oranges.  A ‘budget’ eatery cannot be compared to an expensive up-market fine dining establishment, so we have lumped similar styles of restaurants together for you, and comment upon them in that group.

By the way, the restaurants mentioned are ones that we did review this year (2011).  If your favorite restaurant is not mentioned, we most likely did not go there.

Samba at Zico’s.Samba at Zico’s.

So let’s begin with a look at “fun” dining – it is very difficult here to go past Zico’s on Beach Road in front of the Central Festival.  Different concept in dining and the samba ladies will make anyone smile.

Now for some budget places – what we look for here is good food and cleanliness as well as the low prices.  You won’t go wrong with Kiss Food and Drink and Mae Sri Ruen and don’t forget Somsakdi in Soi 1.

Pizza making at Pizza Pizza.Pizza making at Pizza Pizza.

If you enjoy brunches, then you have some excellent choices.  Casa Pascal does a brunch Monday to Saturday at B. 175 + VAT.  Saturday Brunch is catered for by Benihana in the Royal Garden Plaza at B. 1,100, while Sunday Brunch at Hilton’s The Edge restaurant is very hard to beat even at B. 1,200, though the most amazing but slightly smaller is back at Casa Pascal for only B. 575+.

If you are looking for ‘Pub Grub’ in huge helpings, go no further than Jameson’s Irish Pub.  The weekly specials are difficult to beat, in fact, probably impossible to beat.  Three courses for B. 265!

Pizza is always a family favorite and two were stand-outs this year.  Pizza Pizza by Yanni in The Avenue (the four cheese is superb) and New York Pizza on Third Road.

Sunny Maitre d’ Flare.Sunny Maitre d’ Flare.

There are some wonderful buffets available in Pattaya with the Dusit Saturday BBQ under Chef Adrian’s watchful eye one of the best anywhere.  The Montien has theme buffets on Wednesdays and Fridays which are excellent value.

At some stage in this review of reviews we have to look at the top of the dining experience.  A personal favorite is Mata Hari, still up there after all these years an extension of the personality of owner Louis Noll, and the consistently good kitchen run by his wife. Casa Pascal, now 10 years old and another husband and wife team of Pascal and Kim Schnyder.  No list of fine dining restaurants could be without them.  The newcomer is Flare in the Hilton Pattaya, with Maitre d’ Sunny omnipresent making sure the dining experience is exemplary.  And it is!

Another newcomer, or rather a new branch, was the Coffee Club on Pattaya Naklua Road in Naklua.  This is part of a world-wide chain and it shows with the professional running of the restaurant.

Chef Alberto from Acqua.Chef Alberto from Acqua.

‘Ethnic’ eating during the year included Don Joe home cooking Italian (Walking Street). Grappa up-market Italian (Woodlands Suites), Acqua a very up-market Italian in the Centara Beach Mirage, Froggy a very simple French eatery, Yamato Japanese in the eponymous Soi, Sugar Hut for exquisite Thai dishes and the Captain’s Corner for a Scandinavian (Texan) BBQ.

We have deliberately omitted from the list those restaurants we visited as part of an official dinner, such as the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.  At times like that restaurants are showing their ultimate best, with menu items consumed that are not normally available.

Of course there were lots more, but the ones mentioned above are generally stand-alone restaurants, rather than an hotel outlet with the obvious exceptions of buffets/brunches.

We hope you enjoy dining out, as much as we do reporting in Dining Out!

Mata Hari’s elegance.Mata Hari’s elegance.