By : KEN BARRETT
06 February 2020
About: German-born Mirco Keller made his reputation in Bangkok at Water Library Chamchuri, where his European cuisine built up a substantial and devoted following over the years. The star quality of his name is now affixed to one of the most dramatic new restaurants in Bangkok, with Chef Keller backed in the kitchen by his former Water Library assistant Miti Horwongsakul, and in the restaurant the genial and very knowledgeable maître d’ Axel Braukmann.
Decor: Suan Phlu Soi 2 is a narrow, stumpy soi within a minute or two on foot from Sathorn, and without much else going for it architecturally, it is a surprise to reach the end of the lane, about 100 metres in, and find a glorious old mansion. The place is enormous, with great steps that lead up to an impressive portico. Entering, one is back in the classical era of the grand houses of the 1920s and 30s, with an entrance hall like a lounge, and a bar to one side. Keller is in a room at the top of a few more steps. The atmosphere is one of fine dining, with plenty of space between the tables, pale pink sofa seating, champagne coloured fabric lining the walls, teak wood surfaces, and retro pendant lamps. The kitchen occupies the adjoining room, and is vast. In another room is the Wine Room, operated in partnership with Cloud Wine, a retail concept by Wine Garage. Here the wines are Old World, with the surprising preponderance, for Bangkok, of Austrian and German labels. Keller opened only in mid January.
Menu: Keller’s food straddles the line between tradition and modern, using lightness and freshness, and with occasional daring surprises, such as the Duck Duck Duck (590 baht) appetiser that draws upon Chinese cuisine to present duck neck dumplings partnered with smoked duck and duck tongue. There is a concise a la carte, and a set menu named Signature Journey (2,900 baht). We started with fish mousse (690 baht), hamachi with the citrus zest of lemon, topped with trout roe; and Grade 4/5 Black Wagyu beef tartare (690 baht), very finely cut and smooth, moist, and topped with charred eggplant and a hollandaise of bell pepper. Berliner Senfei (990 baht) is a traditional German dish of eggs, mashed potatoes and mustard sauce, presented here with pickled beetroot and jalapenos to add spiciness, and with a generous topping of Oscietra caviar. Our octopus was from Galicia (790 baht), off the coast of northwest Spain; gently charred and served in rich red wine butter. The sea bass (990 baht) was from Chile, served with asparagus, and our wedges of pork jowl (790 baht) were from Nakorn Pathom, which Chef Keller says raises the best pork in Thailand. Soft and rich, the pork was served in a sauce made from pork marrow. We drank an intriguing Numen Fume Blanc (2,490 baht) from Austria, an unfiltered wine with floating aromas of yellow fruits, lemon and herbs; and, with our main course, a refined ruby-red Ziereisen Pinot Noir Talrain (350 by the glass), perfect with the pork jowl.
Evaluation: One of the most outstanding additions to Bangkok’s dining-out scene in recent times, and with its proximity to Sathorn a natural venue for business people, in addition to anyone else seeking a beautiful evening out.