How do you describe a man who was born in Morocco to Italian and Sicilian parents, but naturalized in France and now living in Thailand? Well, you have come face to face with Jacques Scrimali, the driving force behind Casa l’Ôberg’Inn, which is one of the very few restaurants that can boast of authentic Moroccan food.
Now, before all the couscous lovers start heading towards Casa l’Ôberg’Inn, you have to find this rather special restaurant. And it’s not all that easy. Officially in Somprasong Plaza, Soi 12 Jomtien, and if you are like me, you begin counting down the sois after the Jomtien Boathouse on the corner of Soi 8. Keep counting down and Soi 11 is easy to pick, having a small resort called “Eleven” on the corner. The next soi is Soi 12, logic would insist – but it isn’t. The next soi and about three after that do not have numbers! Ah well, TIT (and thank you Bernard Trink, the first to coin TIT).
The secret is to look for the Sarita Resort and turn left into that soi beside the resort as soon as you spot Sarita. About 30 meters down and on the left hand side look for the Hotel Casa Viva Inn and you are there (well, almost there). There is a stairway to climb at the side of the building, and at the top is Jacques Scrimali and Casa l’Ôberg’Inn.
The décor is mainly minimalist but there is a long wood topped bar at the back and the open plan kitchen (spotless) is along one wall. There is also one section outside, which we decided on, being a very pleasantly warm evening, with no rain.
The menu is certainly eclectic with items such as a lamb shank Tajine with dried prunes with couscous and raisins (B. 420) and an “Australian” Lancashire hot-pot (B. 420). The (mainly photographic) menu starts with entrees (B. 120-160), sandwiches (B. 90-120), pastas (B. 160-220), pizzas (B. 180-240), grills (B. 240-320) with imported beef at the top end, and seafood (B. 150-220).
Of course, there are also a couple of pages of Thai items with most well below B. 150.
There are also specials and tapas, something where Jacques can show the diners his interesting range of items. His promise is that, “As I say on the web site, I promise to cook for you not only a conventional recipe, but also a cooking discovery coming from various countries, original, constantly updated, and affordable for all budgets.”
We also decided to have the Australian house wine (B. 90 per glass), a fairly typical Aussie ‘rough red’ but given a couple of minutes to breathe makes a good quaffing wine.
We began with the assorted tapas including clams, lentils, eggplant “caviar”, carrots, button mushrooms and marinated grilled bell peppers, accompanied by toasted wafers. These were a wonderful mix of tastes and textures promoting good conversation and bonhomie. It was a great start to our evening.
For mains, Madame went for the lamb shank Tajine with the prunes and couscous, while I went for the grilled Thai Charolaise beef with sliced potatoes and salad.
Madame definitely enjoyed Jacques’ genuine Moroccan style couscous. The lamb also just fell off the bone.
My meat was fine, but a little tough, and I would recommend choosing the Australian beef. Jacques is a proud man, and puts his heart and soul into his culinary creations, even to the point of chastising me that the salad on my plate was not just decoration, it was for eating (and enjoying) too!
Casa l’Ôberg’Inn is something new for Pattaya. Different cuisine and a restaurant where you can talk to the man who is actually preparing your dinner. My suggestion is that this new restaurant is well worth trying. It has neither haute cuisine nor flashy premises, but worth the trip. Just look for the Sarita sign to turn left into the soi, coming from Dong Tan.
Casa l’Ôberg’Inn, 279/191-192 Moo 12, Somprasong Plaza (next to Soi 12), Jomtien Beach Road, tel: 082 640 3366, open six days (closed Monday’s) from 8 a.m. for breakfast, 12 noon for lunch (set menu) through till evening (kitchen closes 9.30 p.m.), on-street parking, http://casaloberginn.wix.com/loberginn.