French restaurant with excellent food and moderate prices - where and when do you expect to find that? Well, if you're in Pattaya, I suggest you visit Le Saint-Regis, because there this combination can be found.
I came rather late on a Sunday night, and the place was almost empty, but the nice hostess let me know that I was welcome, and the time wasn't a problem. I was sat down at a table on the lovely patio with the pool behind me.
The menu is quite simple, which usually is a plus. You can choose just a main course or go for the full package, like I did: free choice of starter, main and dessert for just 590 Bath (no VAT or other stuff added afterwards). I was thrilled, because the menu looked so interesting, but finally I decided on my starter and main. For drinks I ordered a caraffe of red Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence (580 Bath for ½ litre, also a bargain in this country) and some still water (40 Bath). I believe the wine was a mix of Grenache, Cinsaut and Mourvèdre, and I liked it a lot for a house wine.
My starter was Calamars à la provençale, a very delicious dish in a generous serving, (almost too generous. The squid was perfectly tender, the food was deliciously seasoned with an almost bold use of freshly ground pepper, and the texture had fine variations stemming from chalottes, tomatoes, greens and that beautifully cooked squid. The dish was accompanied by a delicious baguette, which was chewy in just the right way. Must be home made, if not in-house then by a competent bakery.
As a main dish I ordered Filet mignon of pork tenderloin. It came with a mustard sauce on chalottes and served with a mash of potatoes and carrots. The meat was tender and juicy and cooked just enough to be ready for serving. No overcooking here! Also this portion was generous and I didn't dare finish all of it, as I wanted to leave room for dessert.
Picking a dessert at Le Saint-Regis isn't an easy task. It is obvious that a lot of energy and creativity has been put into the dessert menu. The owners both gave me some advice, but after a lot of consideration I finally decided to go for a cheese platter, as I haven't had ANY cheese since I arrived in Thailand. Once having received my dish I didn't regret my choice, because all 4 cheeses were very well picked by the kitchen. I especially loved the Bresse Bleu and also the nutty, harder orange cheese. I've forgotten the name, but it was delicious, and I wish I had some right now!
I ordered coffee. My only "complaint" would be how my coffee order was handeled. They have a Thai waitress, and when I asked her about coffee choises, she seemed confused and fetched the hostess. I asked her about coffee choises, and she mentioned espresso, Americano, Irish, Vienneese coffee etc. I asked for a Café au lait, but she didn't seem to know what I meant, even after having repeated 2-3 times. I would expect Café au lait to be an obvious choise in a French restaurant? Well, I picked an espresso, which was perfectly fine.
Once more the owner visited my table. He seemed to be disappointed that I hadn't chosen one of the home made desserts, so he asked politely if he could offer a complimentary Tiramisu. Even though I was already full, it was hard to resist, and the tiramisu was lovely, very light and perfectly balanced.
It was a wonderful meal, and I can't believe that the total bill for so much and so good food + a good wine was only 1270 Bath before tip. I want to come cack to Le Saint-Regis, before going back home on Wednesday. I'll do my best to make that part of my plans!
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