There is always one major concern that I think most of us food loving people have when we try a new restaurant in our area.The worry is this: What if they’re good, but they don’t make it? And after a long and lazy lunch at Royal Siam Thai at Milkwood Village in Wilderness, I was very worried indeed. As I have mentioned before, being a restauranteur in the Garden Route takes balls. We are a fickle, lazy, unadventurous bunch and I can just imagine the legion of clientele who would not return because they can’t pronounce half the dishes on the menu. (“Where’s the crumbed calamari starter and steak with mushroom sauce?”.) But if you’re not the type of person who’ll worry about sounding like you’re ordering an overweight exotic prostitute when all you want is Phad Thai, then you will absolutely love this place! The food is utterly delicious. That perfect Thai combination of sour, salty and sweet is zhushed up with the heat intensity of your choice if you like it hot. The menu is extensive with a huge array of starters and I could happily spend an afternoon there just working my way through prawn tempura, springrolls stuffed to bursting with generous portions of duck and fresh veg, satay and crispy, juicy wontons. I forwent the Tom Yum soup as it never particularly appealed to me the few times I’ve had it in other places before, but if you really want a taste of hot and sour the way the Thai’s do it, then this is the dish to have. Predictably, what I really wanted to try was their Phad Thai – you don’t judge a seafood restaurant on the quality of their salad buffet. I became addicted to this most quintessential of noodle dishes in Thailand and attempted it myself one evening for friends with fairly disastrous consequences. If you don’t get the flavour balance just right, then it’s all wrong. Like going off sushi after combining it with too many blue drinks at a roll-your-own dinner party one night, I had managed to completely put myself off something I had previously loved. But the only way Royal Siam’s Phad Thai could’ve tasted any more authentic is if I’d had a lady boy passing me serviettes while (s)he complained about how the heat was making h(er)is mascara run. The balance between sweet, sour and salty combined with the plump prawns and more-ish peanuts was simply sublime. The Thai Red Curry Adam had was beautifully fragrant and was a really silly thing for him to order considering how easy it was for me to just dunk my spoon in there for a taste whenever he looked away. Utterly scrumptious. I was rather devastated when, at the end of the meal, I realised I had eaten so much that there was no place for deep fried ice cream. In fact, I was rather miffed that I didn’t have four stomachs like a cow so I could try more of the dishes on the menu! Massaman curry (traditional curry with coconut milk and peanuts), Phlaa Goong (Thai salad with prawns, lemongrass and mint), Happy Duck and Angry Duck (who wouldn’t want to order these just to see the personality differences?), Garlic Pepper Prawns and How Mok Talay (a steamed seafood curry terrine with sweet basil) are just a few of the many dishes on the menu.
Unlike the unflattering fluorescent lights and plastic chairs that look like they’re made for Lego man proportions that usually accompany any authentic Thai meal, Royal Siam is an opulent blend of warm reds, sensuous blacks and soft lighting. You also don’t have to worry if you can’t use chopsticks – in true Thai fashion, food is eaten with a fork and a spoon. The wine list is small, but reasonably priced (as are all the items on the menu) and there are a few Thai beers like Tiger and Singha. This is definitely the place to take as many of your friends as possible, order one of everything off the menu and eat and share with abandon.
Royal Siam Thai
+27 44 877 8815
So further to my post of a few weeks back decrying the lackluster service we received at Salinas , I am happy to report that we revisited this seaside restaurant last night and were very happy with the service. I have heard from numerous people that they have sorted out their teething problems and this indeed appears to be the case. The service was fast and friendly without being obtrusive and the fare was gorgeous.
Let’s be completely honest here. If you’re going to go to a restaurant in the Wilderness area for the excellent service you get there, you’re going to be disappointed. A lot. It might be the sea air, but the Outeniqua rust seems to be particularly corrosive amongst restaurant staff in the area. But if you’re going to have to wait 20 minutes for your drink order to be taken, then you might as well do it at Salinas. Spectacular views both over the sea towards Lientjie’s Klip as well as over the lagoon and Wilderness Heights make the deck a perfect place to slowly sip a cocktail while the sun goes down over the ocean.
The menu is a fusion of Creole, Portuguese and Spanish inspired tapas, steaks and seafood dishes with a smattering of local favourites. The tapas menu is extensive – Thai fish cakes, spanakopita, chorizo in beer, humus with pita, chicken satay, prawns done in a variety of ways and much more. The seafood tapas platter was a total bargain, and at R95.00 for a huge plate of calamari, marinated seafood, scampi and fish cakes with crusty bread, would easily feed two people. If small plates are too finicky and you like to sink your teeth into something more substantial, then you can’t go wrong with the steaks either. I have it on good authority from all the carnivores at our table that they were well prepared and tender. I can’t quite remember all the different ones they had on offer and I’m rather far from home right now, making it impossible to ring up and find out (and thus making this whole review quite pointless really come to think of it) but I do remember that there were some interesting ones! I recall sampling a delicious sauce of mushrooms and possibly rum. Or whisky. Some booze with cream anyway, so good either way! No one had the burgers, but there were a few interesting ones there too. For dessert the chocolate mousse is a winner. Dense and rich the way I like it. The Cuban citrus custard tart could be fantastic, but the pastry let it down. The wine list is extensive and well priced and displays a good understanding of what the locals like, with many of our favourites on offer.
I really think Salinas could be marvelous. It has the enviable views, the cosmopolitan food, the trendy bar with cocktails and sangrias and the voguish decor. But the service is appalling. But they’re new (and we’re starved for somewhere with a view to eat around here!) so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It was reassuring that the owner met us at the door as we left and apologised before we had even opened our mouths, so here’s hoping there will be a marathon server training session in the near future.
Read about our follow up visit here.
Salinas, 458 Zundorf Lane, Wilderness
+27 44 8770001
Let me preface this post by saying that what I know about the prerequisites for a commendable spa can be written on the back of a cooling cucumber eye patch. But what I do know is that spending the morning at the Views Spa with my fabulous girlfriends left me feeling like I’d had an entire holiday. From the soft, fluffy, slippers that ensconce your feet the minute you set them through the door, to the unsurpassed ocean views you can enjoy from the pool, the whole experience makes you forget that there is a job, a dirty house, rhino poachers or that you live in a city where ninety percent of the inhabitants still don’t know how to use a traffic circle. It is, in a word, sublime.
So let’s get the nasty part out of the way first: There is a gym. Moving on. Booking any of the treatments also means you can make use of the Tylarium Sauna and Rasul Steam Room. Or simply relax and take in the breathtaking views from the tranquil waters of the pool or the loungers on the deck. Treatment rooms are beautifully appointed in shades of taupe and calming aquamarine – the better to relax you when you’re having your bits waxed or your skin peeled off. If pain and torture aren’t your thing, it was evident from the inability of my friend’s eyeballs to both focus on the same place at the same time following a deep tissue that the massages are pretty good too. The therapists are attentive, unobtrusive and professional. There are comfy loungers on the sun deck with views to Kaaiman’s and the serene blues of the interior blend so seamlessly into the turquoise of the sea that you just sort of waft effortlessly from one to the other like a beslippered nymph in a dressing gown.
Prices are really reasonable and – with all the little extras thrown in – splashing out on a treatment or two will get you a very special day with friends, your man (or woman – they have couples rooms and packages) or just a treat for yourself to get away from it all for a bit.
Views Spa & Gym:
South Street, Wilderness, 6529, South Africa
Tel: +27 44 877 8010