By : JOHN GRANVILLE
13 February 2019
About: In 2004 a group of people dedicated to Parisian chic and modern French food served at affordable prices (not an easy combination to achieve) opened Le Vendome on the ground floor of M-Thai Tower on Wireless Road. After two successful years the restaurant was transplanted to a more residential setting, a lovely two-storey house on Sukhumvit Soi 31. There it has stayed, clocking up a solid reputation for fine French food, and attracting a clientele that appreciates the values that first prompted the creation of the restaurant.
Decor: A visit to Le Vendome is a bit like stepping back into time. Ornately decorated and oozing old world sensibility and charm, the house is a gilded space of crystal chandeliers, patterned wall paper, velvet drapery, vintage Parisian style furniture, marble and wood cabinetry and curio cases brimming with crystal glassware and gold framed reproductions of great European artists’ work adorning the walls. It’s the kind of place tailor-made for special occasion dining or a romantic meal. Live jazz music gently fills the air every Friday and Saturday night. The main dining room is on an intimate scale, with 30 seats, and there is a private room for another 14 guests plus two more private rooms upstairs.
Menu: Any restaurant that has its own foie gras menu is off to a good start, we feel. There are at least four duck liver dishes, starting from 590 baht. There is a truffle soup infused with foie gras (290 baht), and the classic French onion soup (290 baht) is served in puff pastry, with a gratin of Gruyere cheese. Other French classics include sautéed frog legs (490 baht), and half-a-dozen snails baked with parsley and herbs (590 baht). We started off with a signature cold seafood platter consisting of fine de claire oyster, Japanese scallop, blue mussels, white shrimp and tiger prawn (1,900 baht). There is a section of the menu entitled Butcher Block, which presents a selection of steaks that includes Japanese Kagoshima tenderloin, at 15 baht per gram. Preferring however to stay with the French tradition, we selected braised beef cheek (690 baht) cooked Provencal style with a confit of tomato; and a slow-cooked confit of duck leg (690 baht), crispy on the skin, with blue foot mushroom and blackcurrant jus. For dessert we were delighted to see that old favourite, crepe suzette (290 baht), flambéd with tangerine juice.
Evaluation: Le Vendome really does do what it promises, which is to serve quality French food at affordable prices, for no one can complain about the cost of any of the dishes here. Set menus are available for lunch and dinner, and offer good value, and the restaurant is also open for afternoon tea. In a fast-changing town, Le Vendome has not only managed to stay relevant, but has actually improved over the years. Their cuisine is executed at a very high level and their nostalgic environment is like a little piece of Paris right here in Bangkok.