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Fine dining and sunshine fun have returned to Kata Beach with a vengeance after the reopening of Phuket’s iconic tropical venue extraordinaire The Boathouse. Thomas Jones sets sail for dinner, drinks and a few fireworks.


On The Beach Text by Thomas Jones


hen the old Mom Tri’s Boathouse opened in 1989 on Kata Beach she became a Phuket staple, tantalising tourists, locals and expats with fine food and good times in the sun. So understandably, when the doors closed in early 2011, it left a hole in many people’s lives. But, after a sixmonth refit and new owners, it has emerged better than ever with a revamped restaurant, new accommodations and a tantalizing beach club and a new name right down on the whiter than white sands. And that new name? Plain and simple - The Boathouse. Getting there a little before 8pm, we headed straight to the bar, as is customary, for a couple of dirty martinis and a taste of the bartender’s specials. We had long since missed the sunset and, more importantly, the half price 5-7pm happy hour, but were happy to sit and sip and get acquainted with our very nautical FRV Travel l 79

surroundings. My companion and I both felt a bit under-dressed. Not in the style department - we had both gone all out beach chic for the formality of the occasion - I just wished I had worn my captain’s hat, cravat and blazer to blend in more. The interiors are all very America’s Cup with lots of blues and whites, replica yacht profiles on the walls, ropes wrapped around pillars, and even a ship’s wheel upstairs in the sunset lounge. This is hardly surprising considering that it sits right on the beach, not to mention the super close relationship they have with the King’s Cup regatta each December, of which they are a major sponsor. Their Regatta beach cocktail party and prize giving is the event of the event and attracts a huge crowd of both boats and yachties, where

Chef Jean-Noel pairs his dishes with both traditional wines as well as Thai.

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captain’s hats, cravats and blazers (and even eye patches) look right at home. We were given one of the best seats in the house outside on the terrace under a huge tree right above the beach. From here we could see the slow incoming tide lapping the sand, while inside, the restaurant was full of people having fun and giving off a great energy. Added to this were plenty of fireworks (which must have cost a day’s wages at least) and loads of glowing fire-powered balloons, being let off by the local hawkers looking to enrich the tourist experience - for a small fee, of course, but beautiful and romantic in the right hands all the same. Executive Chef Jean-Noel Lumineau is the man behind the hobs and has been impressing palates for over 11 years at the site. His menus offer both à la carte and degustation and he is one of only 300 MaitreCuisinier de France in the world - and the

Two bars and a seat on the sand, The Boathouse has the term ‘nautical’ written all over it.

only one in Thailand - so with an expert opportunity like this before us it was a nobrainer to choose degustation à deux s’il vous plait. Chef Jean-Noel works in both French and Thai styles and interestingly for a purist, he pairs his dishes with both traditional wines as well as Thai. Thai winemaking has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and it is nice to see and taste their wines rubbing shoulders convincingly with their older, more well-bred Gallic cousins. Needless to say, that with all these combining elements of quality and experience, the food was simply superb. With the dessert course long since cleared away and the post-prandial cognacs drained from their snifters it was time to retire. If we had have been staying in one of their rooms we probably could have made it to bed under our own steam but Chef Noel had done us almost too proud, and although we were staying less than 400 metres away, he had rendered us so full that we were incapable of walking. Maybe if we had timed our visit to the Regatta we could have hitched a ride home on a yacht, three sheets to the wind as we were. Maybe next time, but for now - Taxi! FRV

The Boathouse Kata Beach Phuket Tel +667 6330 0615

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