On the Rock is one of the oldest established restaurants in Phuket and is rightly regarded as an institution on the island – a place where families, lovers and friends can count on eating spanking-fresh seafood in a great setting. As the name suggests, the restaurant is at the end of a rocky promontory in the grounds of Marina Phuket Resort, which feted its 20th anniversary in 2005.
Where is It?
On the Rock is situated at the far, northern end of the cape jutting out between Kata and Karon beaches. There is ample parking space and security staff in the resort’s grounds. Just follow the signposts through the Marina Phuket Resort (on the Karon Beach Road) along exotic walkways and bridges and through the almost Disney-green gardens. Head northwest and listen out for the sound of the surf and you’ll find your destination. View On The Rocks location map.
Recently renovated, this two-tiered restaurant, somewhat unsurprisingly, has a rock-based theme in that, apart from the natural granite southern walls and the boulders it is built on, it features a stone-age looking bar, similar to Dino Park – its sister restaurant in the same grounds. The effect is light-hearted and somewhat Flintstone-esque, yet the restaurant’s sea views are seriously beautiful.
The overall décor is reminiscent of a large beach cottage, with latticed ceilings and an A-shaped roof over the main dining area. All in all, the place is much improved, functionally wise with a semi-open kitchen at the head of the eatery.
Romantic dining personified. Who wouldn’t feel special, dining out with a fresh sea breeze rippling the table cloth and the ebb and the flow of the Andaman Sea hissing and bubbling through huge granite boulders three metres below? More than this; On the Rock commands a sweeping northerly facing view of Karon Beach and the sparsely lit hills beyond. For this reason alone it is a great location by day or by night but especially at sunset.
At night, table lamps underline the personal touch even though the restaurant is bustling (120 covers) and is one of the more popular eateries in Kata/Karon. Of course, seaward tables are in great demand and in high season you’ll have to book at least two days in advance to obtain one (see contact numbers below). Diners inside are cooled by overhead fans while prerecorded background music meanders from the extremely tasteful to the somewhat bland, nonetheless it is never overbearing in volume. The clientele is mostly European and family orientated. Dress code; casual but smart.
All the usual suspects are here on the extensive 84-label wine list. Prices range from 850 baht for the Carlo Rossi house wine (200 baht a glass) to 4,950 baht for a bottle of Laurent Perrier Brut champagne. The other house wine featured is the ever-reliable Gato Negro/Blanco from Chile (1,490 baht) but for some reason this is not available by the glass. Refreshingly, Old and New Worlds are equally represented at reasonable prices. Small beers (Heineken, Singha, and local beers) go for 90-100 baht while large bottles cost 180-200 baht.
At On the Rock it’s seafood all the way, and decidedly Thai-style in its delivery. The success of the restaurant could be said to lie in its seemingly everlasting reliability to serve up unpretentious dishes in such a great location and atmosphere. And indeed it is hard to think of another establishment on the island that has stuck so tenaciously to its winning formula.
For starters, mussels “Café de Paris” are a butter-and-garlic treat with fresh bread as is another typical On the Rock entrée; tod mun pla – fish meat patties with pickled and slightly spiced cucumber mash. This runs apace with the prawns with salad and artichoke heart dish.
A quick word about the service: The iceberg salad for this particular dish is changed on request to a green one and – along with a delicious vinaigrelle and olives, it is outstanding. As for main courses, we sample fried fish in a sugary rich tamarind sauce and shallots and lemon grass along with king prawns, sautéed with garlic and pepper that are so big they could be mistaken for crayfish. Desserts are generous and swift in arriving. All in all, an evening here – while not a culinary revolution – is satisfying and comfortable.