- Rating: 17.5/20
- Address : 317 ชั้น 2 อาคาร จามจุรีสแควร์ Phayathai Road, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand (Chamchuri Square Mall)
- Phone: +66 2160 5188
- Price: THB3000 (USD92 at 1 USD = 32.6THB)
- Value: 4/5
- Chef: Mirco Keller (ex. Tim Raue [2*, Berlin])
Quite a lot has happened on the Bangkok French dining scene since October – the new Atelier Robuchon opened at the Cube at MahaNakhon, J’aime by Jean-Michel Lorain (of 3-star La Cote Saint Jacques fame) opened on Sathon [Chef Amerigo Sesti is in charge], Chef Eric Pras from 3-star Maison Lameloise guested for 6 days at Le Normandie, and Henk Savelberg (1-star Restaurant Savelberg in The Hague, which closed in late 2014) has also opened up on Wireless Road. Oh, and Chef Ryuki Kawasaki of Pierre Gagnaire’s Twist in Las Vegas is planning to head down sometime soon as well.
With such a whirligig of French restaurant activity, some of the less hyped French restaurants risk falling through the cracks. The Water Library was a puzzling omission from Bangkok’s 7 restaurants on the 2014 Asia’s 50 Best List, the judges instead choosing more mediocre restaurants such as Issaya Siamese Club and Bo.lan.
I went to the Water Library thrice, and each time had a memorable meal. This is cooking at the high one-star level. In addition, their buttery croissants are justly popular, and can be taken away from the restaurants – these are serious croissants – the best I tasted anywhere in 2014. Unfortunately, the ravages of time (I write this in early 2015) mean that I’ve lost my paper notes, so the following is a reconstruction from memory.
Chef Mirco Keller also clearly enjoys his truffles – in my second meal, truffle butter, perigord foie gras, truffle honey with cheese, summer truffle with crab – all made their appearance. His training with the German Michelins (ex. 2-star Tim Raue [Berlin]) shines through – his sauces are rich, luxurious, and precise. I was captivated by the precision of a pickled onion that functioned as a sauceboat in the beef Chateaubriand – three “petals”, small bursts of sweet vinegar, in a rich sauce. He sources his very good cheese from Phillipe Olivier in Boulogne.
He is unfailingly precise with flavors. Even when a dish does not fully succeed in being delicious – it is always thought-provoking and memorable – a wasabi granite with salmon stung the tongue, and then soothed it with the fat of flesh and salmon roe.
The desserts are generally a bit weaker here: The apple tart is not as crispy as one would like, the pineapple marshmallow on the seasonal menu has an unappetizing jellied hunk of white chocolate, which for me is a wrong texture for chocolate. But the main dishes which Chef Mirco Keller conjures stick vividly in memory.
I lost my tasting notes, so apologies – the following is a reconstruction from the remaining stucco on my gastronomic memory.
A la carte
Fantastic croissant (5/5) and truffle butter; truffle brioche
You only get one free, and you’ve to pay for the rest. The best croissant that I tasted last year. Flaky, buttery, crisp.
Diced vegetable and prawn gazpacho
Deconstructed: Sour and tangy, mango, prawn, with a spicy foam (4/5)
“Tuna Nicoise” – Japanese blue fin tuna with olives, egg, tomato iceand avocado
“Onsen duck egg” (read: sous-vide), in croquette. (4/5)
Wild caught Scottish salmon with hazelnut, apple and mustard cress
Pan seared Perigord foie gras with miso sauce, mango and balsamico caviar (4.75/5)
Fantastic foie gras here. Heavy
Lobster bisque with garlic and piment d’Espelette
Blood orange sorbet with buttermilk snow
Roasted rack of lamb from Yarra Valley with fig and beans
[Yarra Valley = 90km east of Melbourne]
Seared Chilean seabass accompanied by a mushroom-bacon ragout, Japanese yuzu and truffle
Confit of black cod fish with a light herb vinaigrette and jerusalem artichoke
Chateaubriand of Wagyu beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes, onion in three ways, and jus de boeuf (4.75/5)
Precise sauces, perfect dose of pickling in 3 onion “petals”
Apple Tarte Tatin with Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Some parts crisp, others soggy (3.5/5)
Vegetables, prawn, spicy foam
Wild caught Scottish salmon with hazelnut, apple and mustard cress (4.25/5)
A memorable dish. The sting of wasabi granite was alleviated by the alternating fats of salmon roe and the salmon flesh. Not sensuously delicious, but thought-provoking, like a kaiseki Hassun seasonal course. I grew to respect this dish.
Pan fried Canadian scallop and Japanese king crab with truffle (4/5)
Summer truffle; sunchoke chips; a truffle sauce made of summer truffle.
Seared Perigord foie gras with prune de Vars and BBQ sauce, Broccoli
Fantastic. A perfect sear. Miso was added to intensify the taste on crust of fat. (5/5)
Blood orange sorbet; buttermilk snow
Breast of Mieral pigeon with caramelized onion, cassis, jus
The same magnificent combination of pickled onion cradling a dollop of cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) as the beef chateaubriand was present. Classic. Memory fails me, but I remembered preferring the wagyu chateaubriand slightly over the pigeon. (4.5/5)
Cheese from Philippe Olivier (4.5/5)
Pineapple and white chocolate, marshmallow with cinnamon crumble
Unfortunately desserts here aren’t great. The white chocolate disc tasted like a hunk of oversweetened jelly, with little help from any of its friends. End off a meal here with coffee after your main and you shall leave very satisfied (2.75/5)