By : SANDRINE HUCLIN
03 March 2020
About: The British TV celebrity chef, Martin Blunos, who has held 2 Michelin stars for over fifteen years and is recognizable by his walrus-moustache, opened a new fine dining restaurant in Thonglor where he is honoring his Baltic heritage. Chef Martin Blunos brought with him Latvian chef, Aleksandrs Nasikailov to create a new dining experience in Bangkok. Chef Alex not only cooks but has conceived all the ceramic plates, glasses with local artisans, and makes fermented tea and crafts chocolate. The chefs will take you on a culinary discovery of their Baltic homeland in a theatrical manner with enticing presentations and innovative cooking that combines molecular techniques and complex flavors.
Decor: At the entrance of the restaurant, you cannot miss the enormous self-portrait of Chef Blunos painted by his own uncle. The 80-seat dining room is a showcase of Latvian identity that connects the sea, land and forest. The wooden furniture and ornamental plants complements the natural decor that is further enhanced by the Latvian landscape paintings hanging on the wall. Additionally, a private dining room is available for all your corporate or private events with access to a leafy patio, reminiscence of the Latvian forest. Before or after dinner, patrons can enjoy a drink at the bar where ingenious cocktails and small bites are served in an intimate atmosphere.
Menu: The tasting menu offers a six (2,490 baht) or eight course set (2,990 baht) with a few additional complimentary surprises along the journey. Both menus will excite your taste buds as well as your eyes. For pairing options, diners would have the choice between a wine pairing (1,800 baht) or natural fermented Kombucha (850 baht) by Chef Alex inspired by his grandma’s recipe, a great alternative for non-wine drinkers. This is by far the best kombucha you will find in Bangkok. Each course comes with different kombucha flavors from butterfly pea, jasmin, white flower, roselle and some more surprising concoctions such as rye. The fermented drink is served in the most diverse and exciting glass shapes I have ever seen on the Bangkok fine dining scene.
The menu focuses on local produce and there are just a few handpicked and hard-to-find ingredients that are directly imported from Latvia by the chef, like the only sustainable and incredible Mottra Caviar, birch sap syrup. Our wanderlust journey to Baltic started with an edible tree with white truffles, a mise en bouche influenced by Latvia's forest covering 80% of the country. Coming next is a spheric ice enclosing miang kham, an avocado-crab wrapped in betel and lotus leaf. Another spectacular dish is Sea Urchin that comes in the most eye-catching plate with black spikes. The dish itself is surprising with a rich and creamy sea urchin and sappan tree and a citrusy calamansi foam. My eyes nearly popped out of my head as well for the Crab Croquette sitting on the top of the crab inside a net as it felt like we were on a fishing boat and eating fresh crabs out of the sea. The outside is crunchy and inside still warm and gently balanced by the aioli emulsion. I would suggest that you eat the croquette with the roselle flower that brings in some acidity. The next dish evoked the taste of the Baltic with a smoked pickled mackerel working beautifully with a combination of horseradish sauce and beetroot puree. Set on a bed of rocks, it will bring you along the sea coast with the Octopus grilled over stone and topped with grilled capiscum, baby shrimps and white flower. The Foie Gras Tortellini served with a truffle emulsion and trumpet mushrooms and a few drops of chef’s secret recipe of birch-sap, transports you to heaven as you take your first bite. The Scallops served with a burnt butter hollandaise sauce and garnished with sea grapes and divine Mottra caviar was magnificent. To follow, a rack of Lamb accompanied with a grilled aubergine and green peppercorn sauce. The dessert, a burnt chocolate ice cream with peanut butter cream, pomelo, flowers and red dragon fruit granita released a spoonful of flavors on my palate.
At the end of the meal, another surprise was waiting for us. A treasure box where a selection of chocolates made from scratch by Chef Alex was presented. Each guest can choose two. I chose passion fruit and the Latvian liqueur and both were exquisite.
Evaluation: Chef Alex demonstrates strong and meticulous cooking techniques with a theatrical staging, complementing the complex flavors of each dish. As for the service, it is faultless, knowledgeable and cheerful. Wine aficionados can take advantage of the fair pricing of wines with options on the wine list starting at only 1,100++ baht for a bottle.