Happy 2022, reader. Last year at this time, Bangkok was tentatively open. ‘Twas right before the impending 8-month lockdown that ruined the year. I went nuts and hit 6 different holiday dinners and blogged about it. You can review those here: http://patpongnightlife.com/2020/12/27/seven-pigs-out-part-1/
This year, I made a similar effort, though the average price of a fancy holiday meal was up 1,000 baht from 2020. It’s one reason why I only had three this time around. And they were spectacular. Here’s a rundown:
A year ago, I discovered Bardo—a Mediterranean-style bistro on Sathorn Soi 10. I was so impressed with them that I made the trip again on 22 December for their 4 course Christmas Dinner. The adventure began with an introductory cocktail topped with an edible ornament that tasted like a thin cracker. The drink—a concoction of soda, vodka, and I think passion fruit juice. It was refreshing and tart—that is, until the amuse bouche arrived: smoked sour cream on a soft cracker with dill and olive. After a bite, the Christmasdriver was positively sweet. The change was remarkable.
Then came the starter: Foie gras terrine with a glass of champagne—nothing short of sinful. Fused on a bed of gingerbread, sprinkled with black pepper, sea salt, and I want to say…cinnamon? And a side of apple gel and champagne. Both savory and sweet, it was a delicately-crafted minuet of flavor that played on the heartstrings of my tastebuds like a seasoned red-light gogo dancer on the psuche of a young newbie tourist.
The main was a wagyu short rib paired with a glass of Montepulciano on a plate of creamy barley risotto that melted in my mouth, along with perfectly-cooked balsamic-glazed brussels sprouts and baby carrots. The beef was also cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of sage, charred exterior, and marbled meat that yielded to the touch of the fork like an ingenue to her first lover’s kiss. And paired with the Italian red, the result was an out-of-body cosmic joyride. Jeff Bezos wishes his phallic rocket could go where Bardo took me. By the last bite and sip, the wine reflected a taste as carnal and nostalgic as original sin.
Following that triumph was a cheese platter: Tomme de Savoie, Fourme d’Ambert, and Brie de Meaux. All delightful. Paired with a French grenache-syrah blend that blew my mind.
Dessert was a poached pear, paired with calvados and poached pear reduction and was quite a pear-ing (see what I did there?). Honestly, I could’ve skipped the pear. It was delicious but the poached pear brandy was more than enough of a dessert for me. And yet, with each successive bite, they complemented each other more. Bu the end, it was the perfect denouement to a set of culinary crescendos. The folks at Bardo are maestros. 3,025b all-in, and it was worth every satang.
G’s German Restaurant
I go to G’s often—mainly for their impeccable beer menu. And when I heard the owner had planned a six-course holiday dinner, I couldn’t stay away. I swung in early one evening without a reservation. Guido sat me at a table reserved for a party at 19.30 and said as long as I was done before then, it’d be fine. The meal started with a Bellini (Prosecco and peach juice). These charming little surprised are what make a good experience extraordinary. The starter was chicken and saffron soup with pink peppercorns. Succulent, subtle, yet layered with complex flavor. There was something heat-quenching about the saffron that both accentuated and cooled the temperature, like a convergence of flame and inflammable, along with bite-sized bits of plump, juicy chicken.
Next came a plate of feta spring roles with tzatziki, a light and sour dip that offset the savory goodness of the rolls. The softness of the feta tempered with slices of black olive and the crispy outer shell was a momentary delight. I say ‘momentary’ because I wolfed them down so fast I barely took note of them. Then came a dish of thinly-sliced duck breast drizzled with raspberry. These medallions of decadence, combining the sweet sensation of the meat with the tang of the sauce, lent a sense of symbiosis in between the soup and the main course.
The main was a massive plate of venison ragout, with brussels sprouts and spaetzle. The venison, imported from Germany, stewed with mushrooms and red wine, gave me visions of sitting next to a campfire in the Black Forest—the meat as wild and carnal as it was tender and delicate…and also truculent. Can something be both? Truccelicate. Delicculent.
Dessert was a baked apple in marzipan and vanilla cream. If Eve had offered this to Adam in the garden, no one would’ve blamed him for indulging. It was similar to British crumble, only with less crumble. The finishing note was an Irish coffee—another of G’s special surprises. 980b all-in.
I wrang out the year on the 31st at the Westin Grande Sukhumvit. Having missed out on their Thanksgiving buffet, I was determined to get my fill on New Year’s Eve. The event started at 7 pm and I was in my chair by 7:01. I skipped the sushi bar, charcuterie spread, pasta, and pizza and instead, zeroed in on the hi-so stuff. I grabbed two plates of Alaskan king crab and rock lobster, both of which paired excellently well with the Australian chard on offer with the drinks package, and was about to go for a 3rd plate when a half lobster thermidor suddenly appeared at my table. After that, I bounced back and forth between the leg of lamb-and-turkey station (along with glazed chestnuts, stuffing, and cranberry sauce) and the grilling station where I ordered lamb chops and foie gras. Everything was outstanding, but the stand-out among them was the foie gras on toast, topped with balsamic and blueberry with fig on the side. Simply transcendent. Everything after the lobster was paired with an Aussie cab that positively exploded with big jammy fruit and somehow magically complemented everything I shoved into my gob.
I finished the night at the dessert station, grabbing a plateful of sweet treats, including crème brulee, strawberry cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake, apple-cinnamon trifle, and yule log among others that I can’t remember. The only downside of the meal was the absence of a glass of complementary champagne—a drink that I’m used to having with the Thanksgiving buffet. Then again, there’s no lobster thermidor at Thanksgiving, so I guess that’s the New Year’s tradeoff. 3,600b all-in.
2021 was not as much of an indulgent brouhaha as 2020. I chalk it up to the overall weariness and defeated attitude of the world at large, at the hands of every totalitarian govt with their boot on the neck of their subjects. Covid, as a pandemic, is over. Now we just have to wait for our overlords to stop using it as a club to beat us with. Fingers crossed that that day will come soon. In the meantime, reader, Happy New Year. Here’s to another year above ground. Cheers.