Dining alfresco is one of the delights of Hua Hin life. The Railway Restaurant at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas offers just that. Overlooking the central lawn and topiary gardens, the restaurant’s dining terrace complete with its checkerboard marble tiles create an inviting first impression. Candles flicker on the well-dressed tables while the wicker style chairs promise a comfortable stay.

Overhead is an expansive glass awning, reminiscent of a grand railway platform the restaurant takes its name and design inspiration from. The overall feel is of casual, comfortable elegance.

We discover that Executive Chef Steffen Hoffer has designed a menu filled with classic European fare, which for our group, creates a sense of excitement. Making decisions on what to order is hard thanks to the abundance of attractive dining choices. For those with particular dietary needs, the menu highlights if dishes are Low Calorie, Low Sodium, Heart Friendly, Gluten-Free, Diabetic, or Vegetarian.

Our Railway Restaurant food journey starts with three appetisers. Salad Nicoise, originating from the French city of Nice and consisted of baby potatoes, green beans, kalamata olives, quail’s eggs, petit salad greens, and seared bluefin tuna sliced to bite-sized morsels. A salad of harmony and tasty delight.

Also starting us off, a Prawn and Asparagus Salad with cherry tomatoes and watercress, along with a generous serve of classic cocktail sauce. And to round it out, an Italian classic which we just had to try. Beef Carpaccio. Wafer-thin slices of raw Angus beef drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with Grana Padano cheese shavings and rocket salad.

As an interlude before the main course, we shared a generous bowl of the Railway Seafood Chowder. A creamy broth with potatoes, bacon, and thyme and brimming with prawns, mussels, and scallops. Delightfully tasty, though on reflection not needed, due to generous portion size of every dish we received.

Classic Coq au Vin, a long-time favourite had to be one of the main dishes. Chef Stefan’s version omits the mushrooms and has the carrots cooked separately and served on the side along with long beans and the creamiest of potato mash. All elements come together to create an elegant and tasty dish, yet the star was the fall off the bone chicken, flavoured and coloured by the wine it had slowly cooked in.

Next up, Seared Duck Breast, cooked pink and sliced, presented on a potato lime leaf puree with sautéed mushrooms and topped with a sweet and sour lychee sauce. And it was the sauce with slightly sweet more than sour notes that made it an ideal partner to the rich duck meat. The final main dish was Chef’s Caesar Salad with the typical ingredients of romaine lettuce, anchovies, parmesan, crispy bacon, and croutons to which was added pieces of grilled chicken.

Two classic European desserts immediately caught our eye. The first, a French crepe dish that traces its history back to 1895 and Monte Carlo’s Café de Paris, or so one version of the story goes. The other, an apple tart created, around the 1880 to 1890’s, in the kitchen of a hotel run by two sisters, Stephanie and Caroline, in Loire Valley about 160 kilometres south of Paris.

Yes, Crepe Suzette, which in keeping with the original, is prepared at the table. A sauce of caramelised sugar and butter, orange juice, and segments is created to which the light, thin folded crepes are added to simmer momentarily before a splash of Grand Marnier is added, and the dish flambeed theatrically. The Crepe Suzettes, when served, are accompanied by the restaurant’s home-made vanilla ice cream.

Our second dessert, Apple Tarte Tatin, which came into being thanks to Stéphanie (Fanny) Tatin, who ran the kitchen of Hotel Tatin, which she and her sister operated. The Railway Restaurant’s version of this upside-down apple dish comes as an individual tart decorated with Chef’s toffee sauce and home-made vanilla ice cream. A delectable finish to our European themed evening at Centara Hua Hin’s Railway Restaurant.

Continually looking to add variety and culinary temptation for Railway Restaurant diners, Executive Chef Steffen Hoffer has just created an “All About Lobster” special menu. Only available for dinner Friday to Monday till the end of March, the menu features three dishes. A Lobster Carpaccio – thinly sliced fresh lobster meat served simply so the sweetness of every morsel of lobster can be savoured. Plus, the classic, creamy Mornay sauce with Champignon mushroom gratin. The final choice is char-grilled lobster suitably accompanied by a garlic-parsley butter. Lobster lovers can rejoice with this limited-time menu.

The Railway Restaurant opens for breakfast and dinner daily and can be found just to the right of the Centara’s Grand lobby and forever enticing Elephant Bar. For reservations or enquires, email railwaychbr@chr.co.th or phone the restaurant on +66 (0) 3251 2021-38 (ext. 636).

Michael Cullen

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