On browsing the features of the day, I increasingly notice that we are being bombarded with new restaurant concepts, chefs reinventing the classics, as they further convince themselves that these new ‘unique’ experiences are what we, their diners, are seeking.
They are striving to create a memorable experience which in the future we will recall, reflect on and perhaps persuade us to return, rather than post on social media and then forget. Perhaps their talents would be better employed by focusing on our past memories. Try to recreate the emotion we felt a few years ago.
Beyond the restaurant scene fond recollections come from music – a favourite song that was playing when we proposed or at our child’s graduation party. It can even be a particular perfume scent such as, Paco Rabanne – in my opinion, a timeless classic that will never fall out of fashion.
Dishes can also create this nostalgia; for me it would be a somewhat traditional prawn cocktail, with a freshly prepared tangy marie-rose sauce or perhaps a juicy roast chicken or my mother’s absolutely stellar lentil soup.
On entering DeDos on the periphery of the Laguna, I experience this exact same sense of returning home after a lengthy trip or catching up with an old friend from university after many, many years.
Pablo and his wife Bee warmly welcome me. They met each other in Phuket and decided to create this classic French up-market bistro; a true family venture. They celebrated 10 years open in September.
Upon seating, I have time to take in the cosy atmosphere; the restaurant on two levels with an outside covered terrace for romantic occasions and red and white tablecloths echo the rather retro theme.
Pablo is half-Bolivian, half-Swiss, trained by Chef Paul Bocuse, the godfather of French classic cuisine and following this experience in star-studded restaurants across Europe. He shares with me his philosophy of cooking, emphasising fresh produce in a French style occasionally with an Asian twist, be it Thai or even Japanese.
Perusing the menus, I spot a particular value for money five-course set menu at B990 which has recently been introduced. This menu changes often and tonight offers Sea Bass and Duck breast, both of which I choose to try.
The a la carte menu has a wider selection with dishes such as Foie Gras Ravioli, Lobster Bisque and Tournedos Rossini. Depending on seasonal availability, also offered are daily specials of premium products such as Canadian Lobster in both a classic preparation of saffron and crab meat or an Asian influenced presentation of mango salsa and wasabi crème fraiche. No shortage of choices then!
Warm and fluffy home-made sesame seed bread arrives with butters including a very tasty sun-dried tomato. In the background, I am aware of 80s and 90s favourites such as Abba and even Cockney Rebel tempting me ever so slightly to mouth the lyrics quietly to myself.
Fortunately, Sa, the service supervisor, arrives just in time to stifle my urge to break into song, bringing with her my amuse bouche of a perfectly balanced mini carrot and ginger soup. In conversation I discover she has been here eight years; she is also a key part of the DeDos family!
My duo of tartares arrives; salmon and tuna, both fresh and zesty, the former with a simple marinate of lemon, capers and onions and the tuna with Japanese nori.
To continue, I could not resist the Foie Gras Ravioli with porcini, melt in the mouth foie in a rich mushroom sauce with added texture from the pasta and the porcini. I am presented with my first dish from tonight’s set menu – sea bass tempura with tomato bisque sauce. A crunchy coating-covering fresh flaky sea bass; Japanese fish and chips!
The following dish from the set menu also does not disappoint – a tender duck breast cooked sous vide to keep all the flavours in, accompanied with baby carrots, leek and herb mash and a rich jus.
To end, the dessert menu is irresistible with warm chocolate cake and crepes suzette on offer, however I choose a crème brulee with a hint of ginger – a decadent finale.
As I bid farewell to a smiling couple, I cannot help but also smile too. DeDos is like sitting in the garden on a Sunday morning reading the colour supplements, all is well with the world! It’s enjoyably familiar yet with delicate innovative touches, and I will be smiling throughout my journey home.
Chris is a former Michelin Guide Inspector who, following an international career in hospitality spanning 30 years in both the Middle East and Asia, has now settled in Thailand and will contribute a monthly restaurant column.