Situated on Naresdamri Road opposite the famous Centara Grand Hotel, in Hua Hin, La Paillote is a superb French restaurant with a 13 year pedigree in this pleasant Thai Seaside town. Words: Keith Hancock, photos: Robert Fretwell.
Newly managed by French Canadian Frederic St-Jean, it is stylish venue reminiscent of a Mediterranean beach side establishment. With green shrubs surrounding the perimeter it presents a delightful setting for a romantic dinner. Both for ambience and cuisine this is one of the finest restaurants in Hua Hin.
The seating is split, about 50-50 with inside and al fresco dining. The tables are beautifully set with white and red table cloths, expensive cutlery and gorgeous glassware. As typical of classic French dining, the dishes are superbly presented to the diner.
The French menu is supported by 14 Thai alternatives for those who prefer to stay local. Ingredients are locally sourced wherever possible, but where quality dictates, they are imported.
The stand out dishes on the starter menu are Chicken Satay Arrows with Peanut Sauce at THB240. Snails with Garlic and Parsley for THB330, Smoked Norwegian Salmon and Condiments at THB 90 and Shrimp Cocktail a la Parisienne for just THB 240. I thoroughly enjoyed the chicken satay, 5 plump portions of chicken breast with a really lovely peanut dipping sauce. I loved the lightness of this dish it was authentic for Southeast Asia, reminding me of how it is served in Indonesia. The snails were truly French and very tasty. I have tried the snails in Asia in many different guises, but I still prefer the simplicity of them served with just garlic and parsley butter. The Norwegian salmon was smoked just right and another healthy portion was backed up with glorious vegetables. The shrimp cocktail comes in a large cocktail shaped glass, a generous portion of salad is topped with a delicate Marie Rose sauce and half a dozen plump prawns sit enticingly on the edge of the glass.
Whether deciding on the Roscoe Rock Lobster Thermidor, Shelled and Gratinated for THB 680, the Mussels Provencal, in Dry White Wine, with Tomatoes and Provencal Herbs for THB430 or the Duck Breast grilled as per your choice, Served with Orange Sauce at THB 530 you will not be disappointed. There are many other selections of course including many superb steaks and seafoods. The rock lobster is just about the most beautifully presented that I have ever seen. The thermidor sauce was light and added to the lobster flesh whilst the gratin topping was crisp and tasty. The giant pot that signals the arrival of the mussels does not give a false impression. This is certainly not the case of a restaurant trying to make the portions look more than they are. This is a seriously large serving of fantastic mussels cooked in the classic style with white wine, tomatoes and herbs. As with many of the dishes here, this is a perfect example of one that could be shared with your date on a romantic dinner. Possible the most imaginative presentation of the evening was the duck. Rich rare-cooked pieces of duck breast are garnished and coated with the viscous orange sauce. The tangy orange balances perfectly with the protein. For the purposes of the review the meat was very rare, and whilst some people prefer it to be cooked more, I thought it was just right.
It is worth mentioning that La Paillote does not do hidden extras. The mains come with healthy servings of vegetables and lovely side salads. It is a refreshing change to pay what it says on the menu, plus government tax of course. Too many times these days restaurants are changing almost as much again for accompaniments.
We tried the Iced Parfait with Cointreau costing THB 230 and the Crepes Suzette-Napoleon with Mandarin Napoleon and Ice Cream for THB 340. I have always loved crepes and this was just as good as they get. The sauce was astonishing, I have no idea how they get so much orange flavour onto one plate. Sweet and tangy in equal measure it complemented the light crepes perfectly. The parfait was so light that even after the most satisfying dinner, most people will have room.
The extensive wine list is what one would expect of a fine French restaurant. For us a Jacob’s Creek Wah, which is a gold medal winner in Japan at THB 1290 and a wonderful Cote du Rhone from Belleruche at THB1190 were the perfect wines to balance things out.