Small and intimate
Soi 1, Mae Nam
T: (0857) 831 031
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As its name suggests, Boudoir in Ko Samui’s Mae Nam oozes sex appeal and romance, with opulent decor in rich colours, mood lighting and comfortable seating that encourages guests to linger over another bottle of wine. Huge portions of rustic French country dishes are served up at reasonable prices, making this small French restaurant one of the island’s best kept secrets.
The French couple behind Boudoir, Stephan and Isabelle, have been known to smuggle cheeses and cold cuts back from France in their luggage, so passionate are they about authentic French ingredients. After hearing so many rave reviews from friends, we decided to take out the compass — it’s hidden away in Samui jungle — and find it.
The restaurant is located in a house, so rather than being one large open room, several smaller rooms serve as private dining areas, with the bar in one room. We started with cocktails and local Samui rum here, as Isabelle made suggestions from the menu, which is written on a large blackboard in both English and French. The wine is worth mentioning too, as by Thailand standards, the imported French house wine is quite reasonable and goes for 750 baht a bottle.
The interior is fascinating, with Chinese lanterns, fairy lights, parasols, plush cushions and a distinct red hue inside, making photo taking a little difficult, but giving the impression of wearing rose-tinted glasses. After making our selection, we moved to an outside table, which seemed a bit cooler than the fan-cooled dining rooms.
Outside was as uniquely decorated, with the red glow continuing and tables set either on the verandah, or on pebbled areas in the garden; even the pebbles are contained by red tube lighting, and turn on the tap in the bathroom, and a blue light glows from inside the tap as water runs out.
The four in our party shared a platter of bruschetta with goats’ cheese, salad and prosciutto. Covered in goats’ cheese, this generous portion was enough to share, and well-priced at 310 baht.
The men in our party both fancy themselves as experts when it comes to lamb shank, so Boudoir had tough customers when they both chose this dish (550 baht). Accompanied by a choice of mashed or sauteed potatoes, the meat was slow-roasted with olives, mushrooms and shallots, and fell off the bone, putting our two shank experts in their place and forcing them to admit that these were the best lamb shanks they had sampled, ever.
We ladies chose the chef’s pasta, which arrived in a Moroccan-style tagine dish. Penne pasta coated in a cream and parmesan based sauce came with spicy chorizo sausage (being vegetarian, they omitted this ingredient for me), young asparagus, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and a mound of parmesan shavings on the side.
The menu was distinctly French, with dishes such as rabbit with mustard and cream (500 baht), beef bourguignon (510 baht), foie gras salad and frogs legs (380 baht). Considering all the croaking frogs outside, we gave this one a miss. We didn’t get around to dessert, which included a selection of cakes of the day and ice-cream dishes.
Boudoir may not be cheap, but compares well in price to other Western restaurants on Samui. Service is attentive, food is exceptional, and the atmosphere is unique.
It’s rather hard to find, but worth the try, so here’s how. Coming from Bophut, on reaching Mae Nam, turn left just before the bridge at a Family Mart, and at the big signboard for ATV tours. Continue straight for about 250 metres, and turn left again (there is a small red sign). About 100 metres further along on the left side, turn into the restaurant’s grounds, and be met by a red glow from the building.
If you’re in the area but keen on more of a fine-dining experience, try the restaurant at Zazen in nearby Bophut. Those preferring affordable street food can try the Thursday evening walking street market in Mae Nam, or the Fisherman’s Village one on a Friday night.
Boudoir is open Tuesday to Sunday for dinner, but bookings are essential — phone (0857) 831 031 to be sure they prepare a table for you.
By Rosanne Turner
Last updated on 22nd March, 2015.