The number of restaurants targeting tourists in Patong just continues to grow but the genuinely good restaurants can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Since having moved to Phuket years ago, Patong has given me the impression that it is a place to occasionally hang out and grab a bite to eat at any of the many substandard eateries. However, this is not necessarily the case and there are in fact a few establishments in Patong offering delicious cuisine.
On my most recent visit to Patong I found two eateries offering good quality food and one of these was Café de Paris. The owner, George Dufresne, is a man I know personally and I once ate at the first restaurant he opened some time ago, Le Versace. His latest high quality dining experience is located a simple 2-minute walk from the beach on a quiet street with lots of restaurants, but compares favorably with those around it. And not only with regards to the cuisine. George has not only completely renovated the building’s interior but he’s also restored and recreated the exterior quite fabulously. It now stands out amongst the other restaurants on this busy street.
Once inside, you find yourself in a large bright room. The bright colors and lighting certainly catch the eye and provide an aesthetically pleasing experience immediately on entry. The furniture is made of bleached oak; the walls are a sheer white which will soon be decorated with a huge 3D wallpaper depicting a tranquil view of Paris. You’ll notice the Eiffel Tower, large mirrors and an outlandish gold baguette which simply screams style (hello restaurant Le Versace). If you do not want to sit in an air conditioned room you can take one of the tables on the street. The terrace mimics the design of true Parisian coffee houses and how can we present these coffee shops without a huge marquis? Of which there are two! When the interior is completely finished, I’m certain no one can enter without feeling the style and elegance associated with dining in Paris, here, in the bustling Patong.
Soon we will put aside the wonderful décor and focus on what’s truly important - the food! First though, a note on the service. All of the waiters are very professional and polite, smiling and always willing to put in the extra effort to be as helpful as possible. Just as you take your final bite they immediately take away the dirty dishes and as you’ve almost drank your final drop of wine of course, they are on hand to top up your glass. If you go out for a smoke or sit outside in a place for smokers, then rest assured, there will always be a clean ashtray provided. This is greatly appreciated as it can be a huge problem in Thailand. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was in a famous beach club, and during my entire time there I was left looking at an overflowing, filthy, ashtray. So this service does not go unnoticed.
Now for the food. This is a different story with a similarly good ending. I cannot say that this is a gourmet restaurant. A common problem with your traditional French dining experience is leaving after your meal with a feeling of both excessive cost and a remaining hunger. Here, however, you can be sure you will not be walking away with an empty stomach. Whether you order the steak sandwich or one of the more difficult to pronounce options, you’ll be sure to get a portion size to match your hunger. Not only do you get quantity, you get quality.
What to choose? After a great deal of consideration, I eventually decided upon the Italian bruschetta (which has been adapted to be given a more French feel). This was by far the best bruschetta I’ve tasted in recent memory. What really stood out was the bread, fresh and home-made, something you’ll struggle to find elsewhere in Phuket (the same delicious bread is also used in all of the sandwiches). Stacked wonderfully on this were succulent peeled tomatoes and sunflower seeds. Trust me, you’ll have a hard time finding this elsewhere in Phuket.
The next dish was lightly fried foie gras with toast and a separate dish of tender, smoked salmon with toast and a delightful sauce. To follow this equally enjoyable experience was a tender, juicy, perfectly cooked steak with an incredible secret sauce made by the head chef. With this steak, don’t just expect a basket of bread, expect a delicious homemade sauce you will savor until the very last drop. The flavors elicit just one question; why did the gods reveal this truth and bestow such skill on this one particular chef?!
When I visit a restaurant, I don’t want to be picking out inedible particles from my dish, I want to sit back and enjoy my meal. When I order a seafood dish and the shrimp are presented to me in a sauce with their heads and tails attached I simply want return my plate to the kitchen. I almost cried with happiness when I was presented with completely butchered shrimp in a wonderful sauce ready to be enjoyed!
As for dessert, a classic in a perfect performance, in the form of a delectable crème brûlée. The crust of which was as divine as you would find in Paris itself and each vanilla seed has found its place (and not, as often happens, all sad and sunken to the bottom). The second dessert was tenderest pannakota with berries and sweet strawberries.
Upon leaving the restaurant I was left with a wonderful feeling, I now know that there is at last a place in Patong where you can eat wonderful food in a nice environment without spending a five-figure sum. I do not just recommend this restaurant; I passionately urge others to go to the Café De Paris and enjoy all that is served there, both visually and gastronomically. Bon appétit.
The restaurant's page on TripAdvisor is here.
The location on Google Maps is here.