A dignified and enjoyable lunch with a spy

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1943

One dining course that has not been all that well covered in Pattaya has been lunch. By “lunch” I mean dining in the civilized manner in the middle of the day, not gobble and go from the local snack bar. No, lunch deserves to be consumed at leisure, in good company and in relaxed circumstances. After all, there are more business deals secured over a pleasant lunch than there are hurrying through other mealtimes.

Mata Hari’s dwelling.
Mata Hari’s dwelling.

With that premise, the Dining Out Team was very pleased to hear that Louis Noll’s Mata Hari was now opening its doors for the lunchtime diners.

I do not believe there is anyone who reads this column who is unaware of Mata Hari – not the spy who gave her life to espionage, but Mata Hari, one of the most respected restaurants in Pattaya. Fortunately, Mata Hari’s clients do not have to give their lives, just a couple of hours for relaxation.

In many ways, Mata Hari is an icon in fine dining circles, even though Louis Noll would deny it. Let us say consuming in a fine dining ambience for around 20 years (to keep Louis happy).

After some years on Second Road, Mata Hari moved and is now situated on the ground floor of the Nirvana building at the top of Thap­praya Road on the left hand side driving towards Jomtien from South Pattaya. It is divided into two sections, with one third of the building a dedicated wine bar, and the other two thirds the restaurant proper. The d้cor is classic Euro style, with comfortable carver chairs and large tables which are all well spaced, so conversations can remain private. There are marble floors, heavy linen tablecloths and excellent quality napery. The staff in the evenings are in classical long black aprons and white shirts/blouses and waistcoats, and are friendly, well trained and efficient. The spotless kitchen is against the far wall, run by Jack Noll and overseeing it all, is the ubiquitous Louis Noll himself.

Spaghetti with Serrano ham.
Spaghetti with Serrano ham.

The lunch menu is derived from the main menu and covers 10 meals plus house wines (B. 150), chosen for the “Performance balanced against price” (one of Louis’ well remembered phrases).

Top of the menu is a Chicken Soup (B. 250), followed by a Spanish Omelette (B. 250). A Greek salad Mata Hari style is B. 290.

Moving on to something more exotic Mata Hari’s Louis offers a Spaghetti with Baby lobster and Prawns (B. 450). Another spaghetti dish later in the menu is a Spaghetti with Serrano ham and Tomato Sauce.

The cocktail area.
The cocktail area.

Another interesting item was a Chicken goulash (B. 350) followed in the menu by a Beef Scallopini (B. 400) and a Chicken Schnitzel (also B. 350).

Prawn fried rice (B. 350) and finally Stewed Beef and Pork meatballs (B. 350).

As desserts there are Vodka fruit shakes and three scoops of home made mixed ice cream.

It was obvious from the menu and prices that Louis has slanted this menu for lunchtime customers and we had difficulty in deciding which ones we would choose. Eventually Madame went for the Spaghetti topped with Serrano ham and Tomato sauce, while I went for the Chicken Goulash, sounding an interesting change from the more usual Hungarian Goulash.

While waiting for our dishes to be cooked we shared a bottle of (that day’s) house wine, a German Reisling, acidic and slightly sweet, but eminently suitable for a lunchtime tipple.

Their breads are made in house, and Louis is rather proud of the achievement, and a basket arrived hot to the table, complete with butter pats, plain and herb.

These were followed by our meals, hot to the table and both very flavorsome. We finished our wine and were bade farewell by Louis, as has always been his want.

Definitely an excellent addition to lunchtime dining. Highly recommended.

Mata Hari Restaurant and Wine Bar, 482/57 Thappraya Road (ground floor Nirvana Place), telephone 038 259 799, fax 038 259 798, email [email protected], www.mataharirestaurant.com. Open six days (closed Mondays), lunch 11 a.m. till 3 p.m., wine bar from 5 p.m., dinner from 6 p.m., secure parking on street.