Never heard of the Azure restaurant? The ‘new’ Azure is where the old Fabrice restaurant used to be, but the restaurant/bar/resort has been taken over by a very well experienced restaurateur, who has shown that he is a man with vision.
The outside of the complex is now blue and white, with awnings, louvers, exterior walls and dining restaurant now fitted out with white rattan chairs. The best description is “charming”.
Finding Azure is tricky, but not impossible. The simplest way is to come down Nern Plubwan from the railway end rather than Siam Country Club and driving almost to the bottom (where the fancy streetlights commence) and take Soi Marb Yai Leer (AKA Ban Lang 8 Road) on the left at the staggered intersection with a 7-Eleven. (The road running off on your right is 10 meters further on and has a big sign for Tara, and is not the one you want.) Follow the left hand road, taking the left fork and continue for a short way and you will see the white and blue Azure Resort on your left with parking in front. 20 meters further on there is also a vacant lot on the left with additional parking. There are two entrances with the one on your right being for the restaurant and the one on your left being for the separate bar.
The open restaurant overlooks a very inviting swimming pool and has a retractable roof to counter the vagaries of the weather. Crockery and cutlery are good quality and the rattan chairs very comfortable.
The menu is mainly photographic and very reasonably priced. Appetizers range from B. 60-80, sandwiches B. 130-140 with the two croques Monsieur and Madame. Pastas are B 130-220, steaks B. 340-400, pizzas B. 220-300 and Mains B. 200-320, including a fabulous Goulash served in a cast iron bowl set in a wooden box. Great presentation, large portion and very filling.
Madame went for the macaroni cheese declared as excellent, followed up by a dessert with around 750,000 calories. For me, the goulash was the dish of the evening.
Azure has elevated itself from its somewhat rustic ‘fabrice’ past, to become a rare jewel on the Dark Side. With coffee being a commodity that is peaking in the world – Nestle, for example, has just paid $7.15 billion to market Starbucks items, and that is a lot of lattes. Azure might be joining the trend at the right time. With the beans coming from the Royal Projects, this restaurant is assisting charities in the North as well as satiating the coffee drinkers on the Dark Side.
The description of the coffees reminds me of a wine tasting, and it was pointed out to me that the flavor/taste depends upon the soil chemistry (‘terroir’ in wine terms). There are two types of tree, the Robusta (high caffeine) and the Arabica giving a more perfumed coffee. The coffee beans from Northern Thailand are Doi Tung, Doi Chang, Doi Wawee, Peabury, Doi Inthanon, Doi Mork and Doi Luang and are Arabica coffees. The percentages in the cup give subtly different tastes.
You have a choice from 10 different coffee grinds and as a novice in the coffee sampling I tried the Opera Italia which has 80 percent Arabica and 20 percent Robusta and compared it to the coffee from Doi Mork. Both smooth but the Opera Italia was my pick. Discerning customers will be delighted to try all 10 grinds.
As an aside, but an important one, the Thai tribes involved in the coffee plantations include Akkha, Lisu and Hmong, all of whom were previously involved in the cultivation of the poppy, but through the Royal Projects of the late King Rama 9 switched to growing coffee beans.
Azure Restaurant and resort, Baan Lang 8 Road, 49/5 Moo 6, Soi Nern Plub Wan, tel +66 89094 1732, www. azureresortpattaya.com, open 8 a.m. through to last orders from the kitchen 9.30 p.m.
(BTW there is also the Azure bar adjoining, great fun, but not for children.)