When one mentions the restaurant Mata Hari, the name Louis Noll must come up as well. Louis is the driving force behind one of the most established restaurants in Pattaya. Louis, with Dutch-Indonesian roots, has run restaurants all over the world before settling in Pattaya with wife Jack, who is also the chef.
Mata Hari was initially on Second Road, but he outgrew the premises and moved to Nirvana Place at the top of Thappraya Road.
The venue reeks ‘class’ with its comfortable chairs, large tables, excellent quality glasses and general napery, attentive staff in matching outfits, and the omnipresent Louis Noll himself.
Mata Hari herself keeps an eye on the restaurant.
Louis will deny that his restaurant is a fine dining establishment, but it has that well established aura whereby diners are not only made welcome, but they feel welcome as well.
The premises are split in two, with the bar area open from 4 p.m. and the conjoined dining area open from 6 p.m. and so we settled in with a pre-dinner drink. Madame felt like a beer and waxed eloquent about how finally she had found a restaurant that served beer at the right temperature in a proper beer glass. Me? I found a nice cold glass of Australian Sauvignon Blanc was all I needed.
When it became time to move into the restaurant side, the staff carried our drinks to our table. It was easy to feel pampered with the service we were receiving.
The menu is a heavy leather-bound item, which exudes the ‘class’ of the restaurant itself and begins with a page of specials, including the Dutch entrees raw herring, bitterballen and smoked eel. There are also special main courses with a Dutch stewed beef and a European Ossobuco.
Into the general menu, which starts with soups (B. 210-300) including a Dutch green pea and a Mediterranean fish soup with garlic croutons. These are followed by four salads (B. 390-410) with the warm goat cheese salad with honey vinaigrette and walnuts looking very interesting.
The next page offers four pasta dishes (B. 350-450) and then 10 entrees (B. 350-670) with a trio of smoked fish (salmon, eel and trout) only B. 390.
Two pages of main courses (B. 420-750) include a classical Steak Diane at the lower end and rock lobster tails in vermouth cream sauce with snow peas at the top end. Steaks from the grill are next, imported from Canada and Australia (B. 620-990). For the mains, there are five choices of sauce and five of potato, and diners are given the option of salad or vegetables on the side.
As many diners will have a Thai partner with them, Mata Hari has two pages of Thai dishes, with most around B. 250 as well.
The bar opens from 4 p.m. and restaurant from 6 p.m.
Louis Noll has always stocked his cellar with wines commensurate with “performance versus price” and has many choices ranging between B. 1000-2000, but there are also some premium wines for those with deeper pockets. We found an interesting Yellow Tail rose sparkler for B. 1150.
In the food, Madame chose the Dutch pea soup as entrée, while I went for the grilled oysters with bacon and Worcestershire sauce. Madame found the soup very filling, while I just reveled in the large oysters, especially as an entrée, sharpening up any jaded palate!
The grilled oysters with bacon and Worcestershire sauce can sharpen any jaded palate.
For our mains, Madame selected the Steak Diane, while I chose the breast of chicken with fresh grape and champagne sauce. Madame found that after the very filling soup, she was almost stopped by the Steak Diane even though it was very tender, but ‘manfully’ made it through.
I was more than satisfied with my choice, being a very light dish and the grapes and champagne sauce were just so succulent.
As always, dinner at Mata Hari was a very pleasant evening. There was no faulting food or service. Mata Hari remains one of the top restaurants in Pattaya and if you have not dined there, then you should. Very highly recommended by the Dining Out team.
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), Bar from 4 p.m. and restaurant from 6 p.m., secure on-street parking. Book!