By : KEN BARRETT
13 February 2020
About: Carne, as its name suggests (it’s Spanish for “meat”), is a South American meat-based restaurant, with the large show kitchen using a Spanish-built Josper charcoal oven, an open-fire grill, and a smoker. Opened late last year, this is a venture by the same people who own Crab and Claw, and The Local.
Decor: The restaurant occupies a large and prominent site on the corner of the crossroads about halfway up Soi 23, but a high red wall hides the house itself. Through the gateway you go, along the pathway, and a life-size sculpting of a bull greets you. There is a lot of space within the interior, which is grill-house rugged with leather-clad chairs, wooden tables, square-paned glass partitions, moody lighting from the globe lamps, and a subdued pinkish glow from the big neon sign that says Grills Gone Wild. A hot glow comes from the dramatically flickering flames of the open grill and the lambent orange fire of the charcoal in the open kitchen.
Menu: Chef Mateo Roberson, who is from Texas and is of Mexican-American descent, has created an essentially Latin American menu, using largely Thai produce. Although the cooking style is centred upon fire, there is also a good deal of cold smoking, brining, curing, pickling and fermentation involved in the preparation, which gives a great deal more nuance to the dishes than would a simple barbecue style. There is also a considerable range of choice within what is a concise menu. Rather than conventional bread, we started with pan de cassava, South American cheese bread, made with Gorgonzola and served warm (150 baht for five pieces). Our ceviche of sea bass (320 baht) was made from local fish, marinated in a Peruvian dressing known as tiger’s milk, the tang of citrus coming from limes that are added to fish juice along with pepper and a hint of chilli. Beetroot salad (260 baht) sees the beetroot roasted under hot embers and crusted with salt, tossed with fresh watercress and served with green goddess dressing, made with mayonnaise, basil, mint, and other herbs from the restaurant’s own herb garden. Our chicken roulade (480 baht) was cooked over the open fire and served with a hominy puree, a Mexican speciality made from dried maize. We also had pork costillas, or ribs, that had been braised very slowly with beer and honey, and which at 850 baht was large enough for two people. The wine listing is fairly brief, but we are partial to Argentine wines and selected a bottle of Bodegas Salentein Portillo Malbec, at 1,300 baht.
Evaluation: The menu is still undergoing some development, and we suspect it will be larger in the near future. By using local produce, the costs are kept at a realistic level. We didn’t venture on this occasion into the beef listing, which forms the largest part of the mains, but the beef is local and given the high quality of Thai beef these days, the prices are very fair indeed. Chef Mateo has brought a very creative interpretation to the menu, roaming across Tex-Mex styles and throughout South America for inspiration, and adding insights into Asian ingredients through the Vietnamese family of his stepmother back home. Carne is an impressive addition to the local scene, and was crowded on the evening of our visit.