There is be a lot of attention focused the grand French restaurants in Bangkok with their Michelin star association. Now we have selected those, many of whom are standalone restaurants who produce affordable quality French Cuisine. Some innovative, some traditional but all upholding the values of the French way of dining.
By Luxe team & Laurence Civil
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Bangkok
A casual elegant dining concept is new to Bangkok. A professional interaction between chefs and diners in a convivial atmosphere lets diners relax and enjoy the experience, seated around the open kitchen watching as chefs experiment and create, work on new ideas and fuse different concepts, right in front of them.
The culinary opera’s stage is set in classic black and red with the open kitchen dominating. Conducting the performance is Executive Chef Olivier Limousin who has worked with ‘The Master’, Joel Robuchon, for the past 12 years starting in Paris, then London, and now here in Bangkok for the past year. He is the gatekeeper, meticulously controlling the flow of dishes from the kitchen to the counter. He never stops reminding his team that the core of this business is to give pleasure to their guests.
The place settings are simple and modern, yet elegant. Just a simple dark brown place mat, cutlery which is replaced before the serving of the next dish, a water and a wine glass, the benchmarks of today’s comfortably elegant dining. There is no formal dress code just that it should be appropriate.
This is an enchanting dining experience that awoke all the senses playing some of the best music. A new generation of dining that left us feeling invigorated.
For the past 40 years Le Normandie with its sparkling chandeliers, antique furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows has been Bangkok’s culinary hub. Occupying the entire fifth floor of Mandarin Oriental Bangkok’s Garden Wing it has the most stunning view looking out over the Chao Praya River. This 12-table restaurant, the culinary playground of Chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier, has worked for renowned chefs such as Georges Blanc of Vonnas, Marc Veyrat of L’Auberge de L’Eridan, and Emile Jung of Crocodile and has welcomed countless Michelin-starred chefs including the likes of Michel Roux and Christian Bau.
It’s an institution with old-fashioned values that have evolved. Dining at Le Normandie is a special occasion to be celebrated and dress up for as if attending your best friend’s wedding, which is why gentlemen are required to wear a jacket for dinner.
The food is the hardware, the software is their flawless service, it just happens without notice. It’s all in the detail from fresh flowers on the table to the stool beside the chair so that a valuable bag doesn’t have to sit on the floor. And an attentive eye that misses nothing that anticipates what has yet to be thought.
Dutch Chef Henk Savelberg has the distinction of having had four restaurants across the Netherlands that were each recognized with a Michelin star. Having previously delighted with his exquisite culinary creations as a visiting chef he decided to open Restaurant Savelberg Thailand, his first overseas, in front of the main Oriental Residence building on Wireless Road, opposite to All Seasons Place. A gourmet, modern French restaurant with a Dutch touch, that strives to serve the absolute in quality dining focusing on luxury details.
What distinguishes the best from the rest lies in the details, the little things that most guests won’t even notice. It’s his meticulous attention to those tiny details that built Henk Savelberg’s reputation. Every detail was made to measure and custom fitted, every wine poured is served in the finest Riedel Crystal, the culinary creations are presented on specially designed German tableware finished with platinum, the first of its kind in Asia. And orange, the national colour of the Netherlands, is subtly incorporated into the design a reminder of where they are coming from.
It’s a warm friendly and accommodating experience, modern comfortable luxury rather than the stiff fine dining. The service has a classic European approach, engaging with the guest to give a rewarding and memorable dining experience. They use the finest imported ingredients and is the first restaurant in Thailand with a Michelin heritage to use Marou chocolate from Vietnam. A delightful destination.
In 1986, Jean-Michel Lorain of Cote Saint Jacques in Joigny, Burgundy, France, was the youngest chef in France to be awarded the coveted three Michelin stars. When he opened J’Aime at U Sathorn to ensure the authenticity of his food he put his protégé Amerigo Sesti in charge of the kitchen and his daughter Marine Loraine front of house as Maitre d’.
He was sensitive to many Asians feeling uncomfortable with the traditional way French cuisine is eaten, so he made the radical decision to serve his food Asian family style with zero compromise on its authentic French taste. Individual dishes for each course are placed in the middle of a rotating glass ‘lazy susan’.
This gives guests the option to either put an individual portion on their plate or share collectively. Another gesture he made was to add a pair of black lacquer chopsticks; the silverware is replaced course by course. This was done so that his style of French cuisine would to be more accepted in Asia. He doesn’t make the same concession at his flagship in Burgundy.
The interior is also unique with its ‘upside down’ concept including a grand piano hanging from the ceiling. This Asian friendly, classical French dining experience is serving their style of food in a way that is appropriate to its location.
The lounge and restaurant are elegantly decorated in an appropriate Indochine Art Deco style. Owner Dany Ganier coming from outside the hospitality industry brought a fresh approach to running a restaurant. His priority was to offer an affordably priced quality dinning experience. Shaken martinis are served in the bar before dinner. Menu has a French foundation while reflecting location. Items include Marenne Oleron Fines de claire oysters, Akami tuna ceviche and home made foie gras terrine. Their beef is from Australia while their pink rainbow trout come from the Royal Projects in Chiang Mai. Live lobster swim in the tanks besides the bar and their dessert menu includes the Escoffier classic Poire Belle Helene.
The name comes from four men who each have respectable day jobs in law, medicine and fine who came together to indulge in their passion for French cuisine. Two of them are in the kitchen as chef and pastry chef respectively. The brasserie style menu is straight forward, the service sophisticated likewise the décor with meticulously stacked piles of books. The stand out food items are their escargot and steak tartare. Their mussels in mustard and saffron sauce are simply delightful. Mustard reoccurs in the mashed potatoes with duck confits. It’s simple homestyle cooking that’s full of flavour.
A long established French restaurant tucked away in a lane off of Soi Convent. Its housed in a beautifully restored L-shapped colonial-style home, the setting alone justifies a visit. The lounge opens up into the courtyard, the perfect place for a pre-dinner drink. This is a small restaurant with a large menu. It has a sizeable fish section including French items such as sole and mullet as well as Mediterrabbean-style salt baked fish for two. It has a good reputation for the quality of its beef, their tartare is one of the best in Bangkok. Recommended dishes are endive salad with blue cheese and apple, cheese soufle, escargot and lobster ravioli.
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Located in the ‘Cheap Charlie’ sub Soi off of Soi 11 is a very typical old style French Bistro, black and white chequered floor tiles, table top tables tops sitting on cast iron bases that originally supported sowing machines. Framed old French comics and celebrity photographs adorn the wall. It has an informal pleasant atmosphere, not just for a meal equally to sip a glass at the zinc bar counter. They serve simple traditional French cuisine cooked .by Michelin star trained Chef Cedric, previously executive Sous-Chef at restaurant “Mantel”, Cannes, France. This type of bar/café can he found in most French provincial towns. Here it’s a community café, ofference quality French dining with zero pretence.
An elegantly casual restaurant with an open terrace. Belgium Chef Charles Christiaens first came to Bangkok as the chef at Le Bistingo (now Aubergines), the opening chef at Harvey in Thonglor as well as a stint at the iconic French Ma Maison at Nai Lert Park, Swissotel. After entering the hotel guest first pass through Rouge an elegant bistro style French lounge, the place to graze on Chef’s Bite’s with drinks. Then move into Eve, the French Mediterranean seasonally driven restaurant. The menu is innovative French drawing ingredients such as Alaskan King Crab, Soulard Foie Gras, Pacific Ocean Snow Fish and Australian wagyu short rib from the global larder. This is a high quality French style dining experience.
The roof top restaurant and terrace at Sofitel Sukhumvit. On arrival guests enter into a large open kitchen centre stage in the main dining room. Room lead off styled as a Parisian bourgeois mansion. The style was inspired by the architecture of Baron Haussmann, the creative force in the re-design of Paris in the 19th century. They serve classic French dishes made with locally sourced produce such as tuna tartare with Avruga caviar topped with tropical mango and passion fruit and snow fish steamed with lemon grass , ginger and kaffir lime leaves. Its French cuisine with an Asian twist
A hidden gem tucked away down Soi 1 off of Soi Saladaeng. The restaurant is set in a grand villa that was once a diplomatic residence with a lush tropical garden in a walled compound with ample safe parking. The Thai owner Nunteera (Jum) Cox is a graduate of Leith’s School of Food & Wine in London and created the menu herself which is mostly classical French with some Mediterranean influence. It reflects her passion for good food and wine where the emphasis is on quality and value for money. The right choice for classic French dishes with a slightly modern twist served in the most delightful setting.
Chef Phiippe Peretti from Corsica first came to South East Asia to set up and train The Palace food and beverage team for Prince Ranariddh Sihanouk of Cambodia. Always dedicated to excellence in the French culinary art, in 1998 he opened his restaurant in Bangkok. Full length glass panels and a French door frontage open to a quiet tree lined street. Inside the restaurant is divided into the ground floor and mezzanine with a total capacity for 70 guests. The menu highlights the use of the freshest produce and the skill of bringing out the natural flavour of the food. Classic country dishes and slow cooked casseroles are his signature.
The Parisian bistro style of French cuisine – a one main course meal with a glass of wine is in vogue in Bangkok. Luc Busin the fourth generation of a family of Champagne producers from the Montagne de Reims has taken that formulae to the next level with his concept of Bistro Moderne. The food is a refined interpretation of the bistro classics such as goat’s cheese salad, snails baked in garlic butter, croque monsieur and frogs legs. Using three wine emotion machines he can offer 36 premium wines all French with the exception of two Thai wines from GranMonte in Khao Yai, 32 still wines, three Champagnes and a sparkling. It offers 3 pour options a 3Ml sip, a 6ml half glass and 12ml full glass. Each items on the food menu has two recommended wine pairing to ease decision making stress. The house wine philosophy is made by friends for friends.
Over the years they have pioneered and refined the modern French dining movement in Bangkok and have hosted exceptional wine dinner. The team both back and front of house provide a passionate and personalised service, focusing on the discovery of taste and the connection between food and art. Chef Mark Ian Jones has recently taken over running the kitchen and brings his wealth of experience from working with Michelin Star Chefs. He creates intense and satisfying dishes, working only with the best seasonal produce. His culinary creations are beautifully executed and plated with both style and creativity. Their extensive wine list includes some exceptional boutique wines. Silent movies are projected onto a big screen to frivilously enhance the dinning experience.
The steak frites bistro culture started at Café de Paris, at Geneva Railway Station in 1940 servings a one main course menu of L’entrocote steak served in a secret butter sauce with fresh fries. As a child David J Perrot, Managing Director of Crepes & Co would dine their with his father, who was a friend of the owner. A couple of years ago through that connection he became the guardian of the secret recipe of the butter sauce. He brought it to Bangkok and makes it in his kitchen at home to project the secret. He shares the taste in this bistro in the conservatory in front of Mayfair Bangkok, Marriot Executive Apartment on Soi Langsuan. To suit local taste he has added salmon and lamb chops to the main course menu. His frites are crisp on the outside and soft inside, simply perfect.
The owner Jean-Pierre (JP) has lived in Bangkok for the past 30 years during which time he has run various French restaurants. Being passionate about simple French regional cuisine he opened his own restaurant. He believes in offering a good quality dining experience, despite 80% of the produce he uses are imported. Menu items include classic dishes such as St Jacques gratinee, Tuna a la Plancha, Beef en croute with Sarladaise potatoes and the classic Tarte aux Pommes for dessert. To complete the dinning experience he has a list of quality affordable French regional wines. The complete simple French dining experience, classic regional dishes, attentive service and a comfortable bonhomie.
To view full list Top 10 Thailand’s Culinary Masterpieces