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    Pub grub hub

    Guru, Richard Mcleish, Published on 21/11/2014

    » Sanity aside, there’s a new comfort burger point in town. It’s housed in the cosy wood-laden surrounds of the shophouse that the original incarnation of Seven Spoons once occupied. It houses 10, maybe 12 at a pinch, but this isn’t the place for the be-seen scene. Not yet anyway. To diversify from its origins, the visuals follow a Polynesian bent, with a tiki twist. It’s still finding its feet decor-wise, but seems to have the right intent – the young front man Pavee “Wham” Bhayungvej was a visual merchandiser in a past life, after all. The music is on point and inviting as can be. The two-storey shophouses of the area ooze charm and potential – it’s a shame they are so far away – unless you live over in Samsen or the like, of course. The crowd is a mix of Wham’s friends, Seven Spoons devotees and the odd walk-in, who would be pleasantly surprised to see what they find inside the snug room.


    Red hot and raring

    Guru, Richard Mcleish, Published on 28/11/2014

    » With the launch of new tapas-style food bar Hot Rod in Ekamai, Ash Sutton is back and racing. What to do when your bar empire gets pulled out from under you? Start rebuilding, of course. Positioned in the front of the cordial Park Lane precinct, the place is a great pairing with the equally aesthetic AR Sutton & Co Engineers Siam colonial den right behind. Maximising the modest dimensions of the room, Hot Rod’s interior is a jungle-laden tapas bar to sit up at in one of the 12 over-sized swivel chairs and take in the action. Outside is plenty of space for bigger groups and overspill (30+), particularly nice at this time of year, but inside is where you want to be. Sit up at the bar and watch the chef wield the wok as the many staff scurry around the shadowy recesses behind you. The pulsating deep beat soundtrack fuels the futuristic feel further. The crowd is a mix of well-rehearsed Sutton followers, restaurant hoppers and thankful Ekamites.


    Small talk

    Guru, Richard Mcleish, Published on 31/10/2014

    » While the little venue has been gaining a reputation for being a nifty neighbourhood bar, we think its kitchen is worthy of some attention too. It’s the latest chapter of regional proprietor stalwart David Jacobson, who first came to the region in the early 90s to open the pioneering Q Bar in Saigon. The New Yorker is a gracious host, often on hand to decipher the nuances of his cocktail list and jazz collection, with plenty of juicy anecdotes in between for good measure. This latest local pad, Smalls, is just that, quietly occupying a corner on the leafy Suan Phlu (where Chez Pepin formerly stood). It’s three levels of kooky stylings, with DJs and live acts downstairs in the ornate parlour room, a kitchen and balcony on the middle floor and a rooftop upstairs for open-air action amid upholstered chairs and cosy tables. All corners of the adult cubbyhouse have something to offer, in a feast of textures (brick, recycled timber, corrugated iron, padded stairwell) and details (Jim Thompson photo outside, a caged Barbie, ceiling mirrors). The crowd ranges through the week (and night), attracting everyone from locals having knock-off drinks to dining daters to a dedicated bar crowd into the smaller hours.


    Peppy Peppina

    Guru, Richard Mcleish, Published on 07/11/2014

    » These days in Bangkok, it's not just about choosing simply "pizza" for dinner, but what style of pizza you'd prefer. It's a good problem, after all, but we'll have to get used to such discernment. In the latest contender in the pizza race, the team behind Appia has delivered Peppina, a bustling mid-Sukhumvit spread that has somehow become everything from a Sunday evening pizzeria to a Friday night hot spot. It has only been open a few months and it's already full, all the time, so book in advance — something else that will need getting used to in this city. The kitchen dominates the warehouse-style room to good effect, involving you right in the action among the countless food and floor staff buzzing about the place. It's great for big groups (definitely book), and during our early sitting we were flanked by two tables of at least 10, who were easily accommodated. Nooks in the back section (under the stylish wall tiles that spell "Peppina") offer more intimacy for smaller groups. Overall, there's room for 80 or so.


    Scando stylings

    Guru, Richard Mcleish, Published on 12/10/2014

    » Cast aside any thoughts of amicable mass murderers when considering this bright new all-day venue in Sathon. Set in a cosy square space on an accessible soi, the style is a mishmash of cafes and restaurants you could find in any global city of style, particularly Copenhagen where the main partner spent her formative years. There are plenty of details for the aesthetics crowd to enjoy (courtesy of the other main partner) including high and low timber tables, recycled timber, a signature wall of light-bulbed letters and some arrangements that cater well to groups (book those early, particularly on weekends). The crowd is a 50-50 split between local and farang, with a stream of homesick Scandinavians getting their Euro fix. It’s good for a coffee, meal, drink, or more. There’s room for about 40 comfortably, and two narrow smoking perches outside.


    Sushi supreme

    Guru, Richard Mcleish, Published on 17/10/2014

    » While the arrival of another sushi restaurant in Bangkok might elicit groans instead of grins, Sushi Ichi is not your average semi-frozen fish dispenser. The Michelin-starred original incarnation exists in retail mecca Ginza in Tokyo, which conjures images of the famed Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant of Jiro Dreams of Sushi documentary. Its basement setting is not unlike a Tokyo subway station location — a little unusual for Bangkok but completely normal in the homeland. The cosy dimensions are split into two rooms for 12 and 14 diners, with a narrow corridor connecting the two. The indirect lighting and ample use of hinoki wood (sourced locally) soften voices and light, transporting you seemingly far away from the bustling Ratchaprasong intersection just outside. An indirectly shared experience in the counter-style rooms, present during our lunch visit were well-dressed pairs of locals, execs eating alone and a Japanese couple that seemed right at home.


    More is more

    Guru, Richard Mcleish, Published on 19/09/2014

    » Nestled at the front of Groove upstairs, this hunting lodge-themed restaurant is starting to garner plenty of attention in the area with some pretty stiff eating competition. To pull off the concept, they have gone all out with the decor to good effect, which is fun enough to dispel the mall feel that other venues in the precinct suffer from. It’s easily located by the iconic grizzly bear that towers over the entrance, instantly confirming the hunting tendencies of the place. The expansive premises has enough room for about 80 diners inside, which can stretch to over 100 with the outdoor area. Hang up your rifle on entry as you slink onto a bar stool after a solid morning’s hunting. The crowd is a steady stream of cool kids that all seem to know each other — friends of friends of friends, etc — Bangkok-style.


    Sets to impress

    Guru, Richard Mcleish, Published on 26/09/2014

    » And Bo.lan has a new home. The dynamic culinary duo behind the original incarnation over on Sukhumvit Soi 26, Duangporn "Bo" Songvisava and Dylan Jones, have transplanted themselves to Soi 53 and spread out into a more spacious (and stylish) premises not far from the Thong Lor BTS. While they had plenty of renovations to do, Dylan assures us, it seems the place has been there for decades with an already settled feel. Again, it's a house set among a well-kept garden — this time with a pool — that colour the main view and light source of the moodily-lit house. It seems they are enjoying the bigger space, particularly in the kitchen apparently, again creating a transporting effect through the portal driveway entrance to the secluded surrounds. There's enough room for 60 diners (80 at a push), with two private rooms available. They are pushing the environmental aspects of the place, (which is still largely overlooked in this city of appearances), reducing waste, installing LED lights and recycling organic matter and grey water. They are also moving towards being carbon-zero and hope to achieve this by 2018, which by then the city should have a better handle on such issues (and the real definition of words such as "farmer's" and "organic"). During our mid-week afternoon sitting, many local Thong Lor ladies were lunching with their well-dressed mums, but things get decidedly more moody in the evenings with all the mood lighting and timber, and the crowd morphs accordingly. Tunes sound like reminiscent of a molam Paradise Bangkok party, right in line with the other sensory stimulus.


    Old world, new venue

    Guru, Richard Mcleish, Published on 29/08/2014

    » With the arrival of two major mall-esque F&B destinations in the city this year — Groove and Central Embassy — it is safe to say that shopping centres have reclaimed some of the F&B traffic. Water Library is an interesting case in point, having gone from shopping mall (Chamchuri) to high-end independence (Thong Lor) and back again (Groove and Central Embassy). So it was always going to be interesting to see what the well-reputed brand had planned. It seems they have headed back to their European roots, not so subtly inferred with the entrance of the venue that is arched by an iconic steel arm reproduction of the Eiffel Tower. The Old World den-like interior is broken up to a lounge-style entrance area, two internal rooms (loosely divided) and a back section (yet to be opened) that will spill onto an outdoor balcony under construction; totalling enough space for around 100 diners on completion. It’s Old World Euro charm in a shiny new shopping mall, and somehow it works — welcome to Bangkok. During our afternoon visit, diners were a mix of pit-stopping shoppers, groups of well-dressed businessmen and the odd stray tourist.


    Simple sophistications

    Guru, Richard Mcleish, Published on 05/09/2014

    » Time to eat? After the big successes of Supanniga Eating Room, a follow-up venue was always going to attract a lot of interest. The policy is the same — "the best ingredients we can find from the places we like, cooked the way we like," says co-owner Tatchai Nakapan. While Thong Lor almost sells itself as a dining destination, the big new variable in play at EAT is the mall location, putting the traditional flavours in a challenging new context. It's positioned upstairs at Groove in an irregular-shaped room, which affords it good vantage of the open kitchen as well as natural light from above (something that's missing at other Groove venues). Its modest dimensions mean that much of the prep work (sauces, etc) is still done in Thong Lor, but the cooking is now on show — a luring new element. There's space enough for 40 diners inside, while another 15 can fit out the front where the mall makes more of an impact and the seats are less comfy. Plenty of worker bees from nearby offices were present on the early evening we visited, as well as important-looking Thais and curious tourists from nearby hotels.

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