Dining in Thailand, The Barbican, Florentino, The Dubliner

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Florentino is a joy to behold. Bursting with yellow brightness in the 17th century Florentine style, it combines the fresh-air feel of the piazza with the warmth of an Italian kitchen, themes also reflected in the food.

Like the interior design, the food has two sides, demonstrating a flair for contemporary modes of presentation and a dedication to the traditions of Italian cooking, especially cuisine from Tuscany.

The deep-fried soft shelled crab with salad and roasted nuts and the light-grilled vegetables with goat’s cheese and balsamico dressing is an example. The shellfish come atop a bed of crisp salad with a piquant dressing, offering plenty of fresh flesh all lightly battered and pleasantly chewy. The vegetables are a delight, with a weight and texture that needed no meat to accompany them. Also a must is the clear mushroom soup with truffle oil.

For main courses the lasagna — a very light variation on the theme — and the wonderful seared seabass are great choices. The fish is cooked to perfection, melting in the mouth but retaining all its flavour, and comes with creamy butter and a scintillating sauce.

Florentino is as well designed as its food is delicious and both places are feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.

Fireplace Grill

This restaurant is a look back at the past, when restaurants weren’t decorated with cement or glass or steel and had warm, inviting interiors. Fireplace Grill is, in fact, a bit behind when it comes to modern design trends. Which is exactly why we like it so much. This softly lit room with its large central fireplace, dark wood, exposed beams, impressionist paintings and dark red fabrics gives it an old-style, almost Continental feel to it that is very comforting. It’s our kind of place, basically.

And to go along with this wonderful decor is the kind of menu that you would normally have seen in a 50s steakhouse, the kind that served martinis in big glasses with huge T-bones and baked potatoes. There are steaks from the US and Australia here along with some veal dishes and seafood including Dover sole, snow fish, Tiger prawns, salmon and lobster but if you really want to know what this place is all about try the prime rib. This classic American cut is grilled expertly on the open hearth and fills the plate. It’s thick and juicy and very tender — in short, perfect.

There’s probably nothing on this menu you haven’t seen before, but it’s all done well, from the pan-fried goose liver to the cream of pumpkin soup. There aren’t any surprises here, nor are there any disappointments as the kitchen staff know what they are doing.

So does the service staff, and combined with the soft music, relaxing ambience and familiar food, they provide, under the able direction of Khun Sombat, the final piece of the puzzle that makes up the overall attraction of Fireplace Grill.

FABB Fashion Cafe

If you haven’t been to FABB Fashion Cafe since the early days of its existence two years ago then you’d be surprised at what you’ll find there now. Started more as a coffee shop/deli/internet outlet, it has since evolved into a decent jazz venue and a serious restaurant.

The food had been exclusively Italian till now (July) but with the addition of new chef Stefan from Montreal, Canada, the menu has changed slightly to accommodate some European and Mediterranean dishes as well.

First, the restaurant offers an inviting atmosphere for dining with yellow and orange pastel colors inside while the glass walls provide an interesting view of the busy Langsuan/Ploenchit intersection. The seating is very comfortable and the lighting subdued which help you to relax immediately.

The food does the rest, as three dishes that signify the new direction of the restaurant illustrate, starting with a pan-fried goose liver that was complemented by a raspberry reduction sauce and a couple of corn blinis — little mini pancakes. Goose liver is the Mercedes of liver and it is cooked perfectly with a little crispiness on the outside and softness on the inside. A tuna carpaccio which is accented by little droplets of red and black caviar and a dill/lemon/horseradish sauce is also delicious and shows more creativity by the chef. Also try the black and white pasta with rock lobster that combins regular spaghetti with a black ink variety and tender chunks of lobster with a garlic/olive oil base. Each of these dishes is wonderfully done and indicate that FABB will in the future be even more “fab” than it may have been in the past.

The Dubliner

The Dubliner finally brings an Irish pub presence to the Sukhumvit area. And it brings with it an authentic look too, with a weathered wood finish on the floors and tables and some Irish bric-a-brac scattered around.

The drinks are what you would expect from an Irish pub but the food is quite different from what we’ve grown accustomed to here as being pub food, Irish or English. Instead of meat pies and Irish stew, here you’ll find salmon with penne and wasabi and a breast of duck with mango salsa. Not what you’d expect but certainly a lot more interesting than an average pub menu.

Attention to detail and the ability to successfully integrate diverse ingredients into a delicious end result are what the chef specializes in here and after working in Michelin starred restaurants in the UK and Ireland, he knows what he’s doing. Worth checking out.

Eat Me!

Everything here is very reasonable, even the wine, which is uncommon in this city. All but four bottles are under 1000 baht and there’s some good stuff here with weekly specials.

As well as weekly wine specials, the menu is changed slightly every week too, with a few of the dishes replaced by others. With the exception of the ribeye steak and half Phuket lobster combination (650 baht) the main dishes are priced from 160 - 290 baht. Try the pumpkin soup, chicken breast stuffed with spinach and ricotta and wrapped in bacon, an eggplant and ricotta lasagna, a spicy chicken with lemongrass, a grilled parrot fish, slow pan-fried duck breast with gruyere cheese and lamb sausage with ratatouille.

Also note the excellent rolls which precede dinner and are accompanied by a large clove of roasted garlic, some olive oil with balsamic vinegar, sauteed peppers and onions and a garlic-oil spread. It’s a great way to start a meal.

Doc Cheng's

Doc Cheng‘s is a concept restaurant that was developed by Raffles Hotel in Singapore. There is also a branch in Hamburg, Germany and the third is here in Bangkok.

The menu is described as being “transethnic,” a term we‘ve never heard before in the restaurant business. What‘s happening is that Eastern ingredients and cooking styles are blended with Western table presentations to produce light, fun and innovative dishes.

Starting with the Asian Sampler is a good idea because it gives you the chance to try four different tapas items from the starter menu — the Dungeness crab cakes, the Nori Yellow Fin Tuna, the Furikake Blue Shrimps and an Oriental Vegetable Salad. All are good but the crab cakes are outstanding.

Also, try the Tandoor Turkey Confit and the Indochine Duck, or the Szechuan Rack of Lamb which is highlighted by a coconut pandan sauce. The prices are not low here, but are very reasonable considering the food quality.


Delifrance was one of the first deli/bakery chain outlets to open in Bangkok but has since been joined by a number of others. However, the quality and selection here still make it one of the best places to visit. Top quality coffee, all kinds of breads, pastries, croissants, sandwiches, soups and salads are on offer.

Sandwiches are available on either bread or croissants and fillings include tuna salad, egg salad, pate, seafood salad and crab salad. The tuna is especially good and the 65 baht price is well worth it considering the size of the sandwich. There are also six cream soups that alternate daily with corn, asparagus and broccoli included among them.

The quiche lorraine is also worth trying and is also priced at only 65 baht. It’s big enough to satisfy most appetites by itself and because of its creamy richness. The chicken bechamel sandwich is another one to consider also as the chicken and bechamel sauce inside the flaky pastry is a good combination. There are also good daily specials available which bring the prices down even lower.

Crepes & Co.

With the distinction of being Bangkok’s only creperie for the last several years, Crepes & Co. has built up a good regular business catering to those who appreciate its wide variety of main course and dessert crepes which are imaginatively created.

Dozens of different crepes are available as well as main dishes that are both North African and Mediterranean in nature. You can get some cous cous and pita bread here as well as the crepes and also some main dishes that are Mediterranean-inspired. Try any of the chicken entrees, for instance, or salads like the Greek feta cheese salad for an authentic taste of this region.

The crepes here, the real stars of the show, are too numerous to mention but suffice it to say that the selection is large and the chef’s (Mr. Phillipe Brutin) creative use of ingredients produces some unusual combinations, especially with the main course crepes, that you’ve likely never seen anywhere else.

The warm atmosphere here, created by lots of dark wood and subtle lighting, is complemented by an outdoor seating area in a garden-like space which is suitable for dining in the cooler months. The great all-day Sunday brunch is also an attraction and is usually crowded so take note and arrive early.

Copper Chimney

The Copper Chimney is the latest outlet to open in a chain of Indian restaurants stretching from New Delhi to Bombay to London. But just because it’s a chain, don’t expect something you have seen before: The Copper Chimney is designed like nowhere else in Bangkok and offers a novel combination of Indian and Indian-style Chinese cuisine.

Try the classic chicken tikka as an example of pure Indian food: marinated in yoghurt and cheese, the meat has a creamy taste and a silky texture, a very smooth affair but you can add as much spiciness as you like in the form of the accompanying sauce, made with mint, coriander, Indian herbs, pomegranate seeds, cumin and a considerable number of green chillies.

Also, try the prawn curry served with sweet naan bread. The trick is to take one of the large crunchy prawns, cover it with the smooth curry paste and pop it into your mouth. Only then should you fold up one of the pieces of naan and eat that too. This way the bread remains crispy and you can fully appreciate the malt flavor. If you’re interested in Chinese cuisine you can enjoy equally delicious food. Take the Chinese noodles and Manchurian fish, for example. The assorted vegetables and boiled noodles have an unmistakably Chinese flavor, cool after all the spice, subtle enough to let the taste of the fish burst through.


This is Bangkok’s most established outlet featuring California cuisine and probably the most creative as well.

The menu consists of items like an excellent cream of mushroom soup that is actually made with cream as opposed to most cream soups you get in Bangkok and is very tasty. Also try the snowfish which is panfried and laid on top of a bed of spinach with mushrooms and a sesame/anchovy sauce. The fish is cooked perfectly, so it is flaky and moist and is accompanied by a large serving of garlic mashed potatoes. The chef who planned the menu here worked for Wolfgang Puck for nine years in Los Angeles so that should give you an idea of the culinary heritage here.

You can put any label you want on the food that’s prepared here, “creative” or anything else, but the bottom line is that it tastes very good and is generally pretty good for you, too, since an emphasis is placed on the use of healthy ingredients. You can’t ask for much more than that.


A rand new place (opened in May) serving traditional French food is Charlie’s on Ruam Rudee Soi 2. Set in a modest house with a large yard, Charlie’s interior has the look of a provincial French farmhouse with brick-look walls, tile floors, beamed ceilings and lots of medium-shaded wood. It creates a comfortable, homey atmosphere which complements the food well.

The set menu has different items every day. Some of the choices on one day, for example, were a pate and sausage plate for a starter, a steak for the main course and chocolate mousse for dessert. Along with coffee, this three-course meal is only 280 baht. Other choices included a bacon or tuna salad for a starter as well as a blowfish carpaccio and pla kapong in a cream sauce or chicken breast in a red wine sauce for a main course.

The regular menu contains many traditional French dishes such as onion soup, snails, smoked salmon, duck foie gras, sole meuniere, veal stew, beef bourguignon, grilled salmon and duck breast. The wine list contains a select number of bottles of red or white wine all from France.

This approach to French food should attract many people since the food is good, the prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is congenial.

The Cedar

The Cedar has the distinction as being the oldest Middle Eastern restaurant here in Bangkok, having been started by the present owner’s father back in 1975 or thereabouts. The restaurant just recently moved a short distance to a new location but is still on Soi 49.

The new space is a small, cozy place with plenty of interior decoration to suggest a Middle Eastern presence. Actually, the restaurant is technically Lebanese but provides a range of food that is associated with a number of Middle Eatern countries.

Wherever it comes from, the food here is delicious, whether it’s appetizer selections of hummus, tahini and eggplant spread or any of the main dishes which feature a good selection of Middle East favorites. You could make a great meal out of just the appetizers, though, as there are 25 different selections and they make up the greater part of the menu. Or you can try some great lamb or chicken dishes as well as beef kebabs, moussaka or cous-cous, all Middle Eastern traditional dishes. If you really like lamb and want a perfect dish, order the Cedar Lamb Rack which comes with the delicious meat almost falling off the bone.


This is an interesting little find, tucked away as it is in the corner of a tourist attraction/hotel/arcade structure right on Silom Road. Buono is an Italian restaurant that’s small, intimate and dimly lit — our favorite type of place with the. The music isn’t quite right here, but if they’d just put a little Sinatra and Tony Bennet on the stereo, the atmosphere would be perfect. Think 50s-60s New York and that’s the feeling you get here. Which is, of course, perfect for Italian food. Remember The Godfather? Anyway, the food is as important as the atmosphere in putting together a good dining experience and they do a good job here for the most part.

The beef carpaccio, fish soup and veal piccata, at least, are all rather well done, the fish soup with its very flavorful broth being perhaps the star of the show, with the other two dishes holding up very well also. There’s a large menu with many soups, appetizers and salads to go along with seven pizzas, 12 pasta dishes and a good selection of meat and seafood main courses.

Combined with the atmosphere, the food offers diners a real Italian dining experience here, especially if you like New York-style restaurants.

C'est Bon

As one of the newer restauants in town, C’est bon hasn’t established a reputation yet but we’re betting that it will. With smart ownership and a really good chef, C’est bon has some very good assets to bank on and, along with a convenient location, they should be enough to make it into a very popular place.

The food is described as being French-VietnCest Bon 4.jpgamese but we’re not sure if this is entirely accurate. However, it doesn’t really matter what you call it because it’s masterfully prepared and wonderfully presented as you can see from the photos here. Chef Steven Dion is from Montreal and combines his classic French training with a variety of interesting ingredients to create dishes that are innovative and fun whatever label you want to put on them.

The classy, modern interior adds to the experience and a good wine list helps also. Add experienced, friendly management and you’ve got all the ingredients for a successful restaurant.

Captain's Table

The Captain’s Table is the Grand Pacific Hotel’s major dining outlet and it features an international ala carte menu as well as a great buffet. In fact, it’s the buffet that the restaurant is the most well-known for, especially since it offers a brunch on Sundays that’s one of the best in the city.

Overlooking Sukhumvit Road, the restaurant is on the seventh floor of the hotel, and it offers diners a scenic view, especially at night. The regular menu covers a wide variety of food in itself, and the buffet continues that also.

Starting with a great salad bar that gradually turns into a cold cuts and cheese section and then to sushi and prepared salads, the buffet presents diners with many more choices than most of us can accommodate in one meal. In addition to the items just mentioned, each of which is well-represented with lots of variety, there are several main entrees of international food, several Thai entrees, soups, a pasta bar and also a couple of carvery roasts. Then there’s dessert, which is another large section itself.

Make sure you come here with a big appetite because the quality of the food here will have you wanting to eat as much quantity as you can.

Cafe At The Park

Buffets are the name of the game here as the restaurant offers them at both lunch and dinner. And, of special interest to seafood lovers is the addition of a fresh seafood station on Friday and Saturday nights which allows diners to select tha seafood he or she would like to eat and then the cooking method as well. Assorted shellfish, prawns, and fish are available depending on what the day’s market has to offer the chef.

The regular buffet features a large variety of Thai specialties and European dishes that changes on a regular basis. Included is a large selection of hot entrees and also a varied selection of Thai salads and cold dishes, specializing in traditional Thai delicacies. There’s also an ala carte menu available that covers a wide variety of different cuisines from Asia and the rest of the world. And you can order from this menu anytime because the restaurant is open 24 hours.

Caffe Di Roma

There are many different aspects to this place so it will be hard to do them all justice in the space we have, but here goes. First, of course, there’s a very good selection of many of the traditional Italian dishes that you would expect to find. There are 20 pastas, eight pizzas (baked in a wood-burning oven), assorted soups and salads and a list of appetizers that includes carpaccios of both beef and fish, soft-shell crabs, parma ham, a cheese selection and more.

There’s also an appetizer buffet where you can eat what you want Caffe Di Roma3.jpgfrom a selection of dishes for a set price. Included were an eggplant dish, some air-dried beef, assorted bell peppers in oil, mussels and prawns among others. This is a good idea for people who can’t decide what they want for an appetizer; just try a little of everything.

Also, in the manner of seafood market restaurants, there’s a large selection of fresh seafood on ice that you can pick out and have the chef cook for you. We saw red mullet, snapper, snowfish, river prawns, mussels, tiger prawns, phuket lobsters, clams and a lot more. And you can also pick from an assortment of fresh meats that the chefs will grill for you as well.

A recommended main course is the open lasagna with a seafood sauce which is equally very good, the seafood, mainly shrimp and squid being extremely fresh.

Cafe Swiss

This Swiss restaurant is similar to others in Bangkok in at least one way: it’s a cozy little place with Swiss-style decor that makes you feel like the Alps are just outside. Add an authentic menu and you’ve got a place that is worth visiting for a true Swiss experience.

The menu is filled with Swiss dishes but also contains some more Continental based dishes as well. True Swiss favorites are here, though, like raclette, the great cheese specialty. It’s expensive, because the cheese is the real thing from Switzerland, but it’s worth the cost because it tastes just like it does back in the Alps. Fondue is a big favorite here too, and the selection includes both main course fondues as well as cheese and chocolate fondues.

Other dishes like wiener schnitzel are here too, and all of the Swiss entries are done extremely well. If you’re more interested in general European food, that’s available also as there’s a decent selection of seafood and also some dishes that are somewhat Mediterranean in nature. The accompanying dishes — salads, soups and appetizers — are appealing too, making this a well-rounded reataurant


This is a great looking place that seems to capture perfectly the essence of an Eastern European dining room in a classic hotel or private residence. The heavy, dark furniture suggests a bygone age and the wall hangings and tableware reinforce that feeling, giving one the impression that dressing for dinner and being waited on by servants is standard procedure here.

Also, the dining room is rather cozy, seating about 30 people, so that adds to the feeling of sophistication and Budapest2.jpgexclusivity. This feeling matches the menu quite well also as the dishes here are almost all classic Hungarian offerings.

That means lots of hearty dishes that use plenty of beef, lamb, veal, pork and even venison. There are fish and prawns on the menu too, with trout and cod making appearances.

The traditional Hungarian dishes that you may be familiar with are here also, like goulash soup, paprika chicken, stuffed cabbage and smoked trout. And there are a appetizers, including a cold goose liver with celery salad, several other soups, some salads and more delicious meat dishes, with a favorite of grilled saddle of vension topping the selections. Try this place soon for some stylish dining the European way.

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street bills itself as the only Cajun/Creole restaurant in Bangkok and that’s true; some other restaurants have a few Cajun/Creole dishes but not the variety that you will find here.

Most of the dishes here are quite representative of this tasty cuisine from the U.S. state of Louisiana, although they are not as spicy as you would find them to be in their natural habitat. Avoid the blackened redfish but try the boiled crawfish and most of the other entries.

There are also many other American cuisine styles served here from Tex-Mex to such basic dishes as meatloaf, which is excellent by the way. Ribs, burgers, steaks, Buffalo wings and pizza are also here. There’s a Sunday brunch buffet that mixes the Cajun/Creole dishes with others and offers a good variety. prices are moderate.

The Barbican

The Barbican is a combination bar/restaurant that serves a European menu to a mixed crowd of Thais and foreigners. The main room has three different levels and there’s also an enclosed dining room upstairs for quieter dining at night.

Steaks are a specialty here, a holdover form the days when the Angus Steak House was here. The steaks come from Australia and are offered in three varieties: sirloin, ribeye and tenderloin. The best choice is probably the tenderloin.

As well as steaks, there is a wide variety here with everything from roast chicken to bangers and mash or fish and chips. The pub dishes are joined by a number of contemporary specialties and also some pastas and salads as well as some very good soups (try the pumpkin). Sandwiches and burgers are available also and there’s a good selection of them.

Music is featured at night from the very well-stocked juke box and there are a number of special nights during the month when DJs are brought in to provide the music. Watch for special parties on a regular basis also, and the ever-changing Happy Hour promotions.