Bangkok Post reviews
Savour the flavour
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: July 26, 2013 at 8:17 am
Contemporary French fare mixes with an Asian touch at a more relaxed version of Surface
The al fresco garden bar and dining lounge.
This week's subject of review is located at the end of a very quiet residential sub-soi off Sukhumvit Soi 53. Yet, on a gloomy weekday evening that we visited, the dining establishment set in a two-storey house with a lovely front garden seemed to draw in its nightly crowd. Most of them seemed to be regulars, and all were fashionably clad.
Surface opened two years ago and was conceived as a fine French restaurant where dress-code abiding diners took pleasure in sophisticated French fare prepared with premium quality ingredients. Today the refined culinary concept still remains, yet the dining mood has been switched to a more relaxing manner to cater to the increase of casual bistro-goers, and with the front garden somehow becoming a backyard.
Surface's co-owner, Chalee Kader, is a former resident chef to the French ambassador in Thailand. Through years of training and working at top establishments in Thailand and the US, he garnered his skills and finally opened a French restaurant of his own.
One of the chef's frequently ordered creations, the spinach, Roquefort, peaches and walnut salad (280 baht), was an unfussy combination of fresh spinach leaves, sheep's-milk blue cheese, slices of cling peaches and roasted walnuts dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. This best-selling salad featured spinach complemented by the characteristically sharp taste and crumbly texture of the blue cheese as the fragrant peach added a juicy sweet dash, the walnuts lent a crunch, and the vinaigrette dressing gave a pungent kick to the refreshingly healthy fare.
Another healthy appetiser that proved a mouthful of flavour was the baked portobello mushroom with parmesan and garlic (350 baht). The gigantic imported mushroom was cooked with olive oil and parmesan, cut into thin pieces and placed entwined on a plate before being laced with garlic bread crust to give a gritty and garlicky finish, and garnished with sour micro sorrel. The Western-style, mild-tasting mushroom dish was smartly matched with peppery hot, Indian-style chilli chutney, made according to Chalee's family recipe.
The pan-roasted grass-fed tenderloin with truffleinfused risotto and black trumpet mushroom sauce.
As a bar-centric eatery, Surface has a decent variety of delicacies to be enjoyed with a selection of house-formulated cocktails and wine. Other than the much-loved oysters (choices include Muirgen, Tsarskaya and pink oysters, 150 baht per piece), there's also an impressive collection of charcuterie from Spain, France and Italy, including Iberico ham, French sausages, Pyranese black bacon, Milano salami and farmer's pate. The selection came with an assortment of house pickles and European fresh seasonal vegetables. The scrumptious variety of cold cuts proved a nice match with the very refreshing shizo and plum cocktail (280 baht), made with plum wine, lime juice and shiso leaf.
For more stomach-filling dishes, we settled on a pasta and a risotto. The first, angel-hair pasta with hijiki and crispy Alaskan snowfish (620 baht), is a flavoursome marriage between Italian and Japanese cuisine. The fine noodles smouldered with sake-infused ponzu sauce and came tossed with fermented soy beans, hijiki (Japanese crunchy dark brown seaweed) and butter. It was topped with deep-fried snowfish fillet turned golden brown, while the cottony white meat inside still retained its velvety rich character.
The delectable Asian-accented pasta dish was followed by tenderloin truffle risotto (720 baht), which turned out to be even more palate pleasing. Served in a wide-rim soup plate, the dish featured pinkish-brown slices of pan-roasted grass-fed Australian tenderloin on a bed of truffle infused, creamy risotto with black trumpet mushroom-red-wine sauce. Although rich in taste and hefty in portion, this risotto dish was very hard to stop eating.
This fine French-restaurant-turned-casual-bistro also offers a line-up of sublime French-style main courses, including braised ox tongue and veal cheek, duck confit with port wine reduction, and oven-roasted lamb rack as well as Alaskan snowfish with saffron sauce and bouillabaise.
For those looking for a lighter option, the chef recommends steamed French sea bream on a salt bed (900 baht).
A favourite among senior regulars, the imported fish exhibited fine supple meat and lightly seasoned with salt and herbs, to be enjoyed with five kinds of accompanying condiments, namely Thai-style sour and spicy seafood dip, vinaigrette, salsa verde, and black olive and beurre blanc sauces. Surface offers a decent selection of house-baked sweets.
The angel-hair pasta with hijiki, butter and crispy Alaskan snowfish.
We passed on the waffle and berry pudding, chocolate fondant and banoffee, to go for the very popular white chocolate cheesecake with passionfruit and strawberries (210 baht) and were fairly gratified.
Service was polite and efficient. The best way to arrive at the restaurant now is through its newly-appointed back gate, which has now become the main entrance, at a corner of a spacious private parking lot on Thong Lor Soi 11. Reservations are recommended.
The restaurant’s homely setting with air-conditioned main dining room.
Thong Lor Soi 11 Call 02-258-2858 Open 6-11.30pm (Mon- Fri); 11.30am-2pm and 6-11.30pm (Sat & Sun) Park on the premises Most credit cards accepted