Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dean & Deluca

The undeniable new gastronomic kid on the block in Bangkok is Dean & Deluca, the hipster eatery that’s brining SoHO chic to the sois. Japan and Taiwan have long enjoyed this New York staple, and now it’s the City of Angels’ turn. Opened just a few months ago, the down-town eatery is already causing a stir and bringing back die-hard fans time and time again. From its sleek black, white and chrome design, concrete floors, minimalist furniture to mega-sized front door and attractive food displays, the cafe is likeable from the word go.
Although we – Chef Viroj, F&B Manger Prasert and EVP Marisa – all work in a hotel with very finest restaurants, we were keen to check out the competition and to pick up fabulous new taste and presentation tips to pass on to our own patrons. We popped by for a nosh around 11:30pm on a Thursday; earnestly trying to avoid the lunch-time rush that we had been warned about (apparently you don’t want to stop by in the afternoon, when stocks are critically low or simply ‘off the menu’). For now, the cafe and gourmet food shop is set in the showroom at the MahaNakhon construction site. The actual building will be complete in 2014. The ‘shop’ portion is quite small, but sells a nice array of kitchen items, pasta, spices, nuts, lollies, teas, sauces, breads and so forth. So, for now, Dean & Deluca is more a place to grab a bite, a coffee or pick up some pastries not do your  gourmet grocery shop for the week.
Now onto the important part, the eatin’! I can safely say that the portions were very reasonable, almost too big in truth. And, while the prices are high, they are not outrageous, expect to pay Bht 100 (half) to 200 (full) for a sandwich; Bht 70-125 for a coffee (S, M, L); Bht 100-140 for a shake, Bht 150 for 100g salad, Bht 70-150 for a cake slice and Bht 200 for a loaf of fresh bread. [FYI: whilst there is no service charge, expect to pay VAT]. To order your need to queue up, tell your order to the waitress, get a receipt, pay at the register, and then either pick-up or have your food delivered (I’m still a little fuzzy on this part). You can either sit at tables or couches inside or outdoors in the shrubbery. In keep with its low-key cafeteria vibe, you also have to collect your own cutlery, water glasses, napkins, etc.

Chef and I decided to share, opting for a Goat Cheese and Avocado Sandwich, Mediterranean Grilled Vegetable and Mozzarella Sandwich and Waldorf Salad. From the bread used in the sandwiches to the grapes in the Waldorf, Dean & Deluca kept its promise of only using the freshest ingredients. These tasty morsels were washed down with one of the most unique, tasty and delicious drinks I’ve ever had: Mango & Sticky Rice Shake. Sadly, the cakes did not live up to our expectations. The Tiramisu was passable, but nothing to write home about. The cheesecake on the other hand was an abomination, the crust was fairly nonexistent and quite squishy, the cake layer was minuscule and nowhere near dense or tasty enough and the canned blueberry topping was too sweet and abundant. However, as a saving grace we all agreed that the almost croissant was superb; to me it tasted like a cross between a croissant and an Anzac biscuit.

Final verdict: a good place to visit for a coffee and sandwich, and maybe to pick up a loaf for the weekend. Although the service is polite, it's hasty and the poor staff are hard-pressed to keep up with orders (and God's know how you get your table cleared!). If you are in the market for a good quality quick meal that won’t break the bank, this is a top pick for sure.

Getting there: From the Siam City Hotel getting there is easy. Either take a taxi [MahaNakhon Project, 92 Narathiwasrachanakarin Road, Silom] or hope on the Skytrain. If you take the BTS, head towards Siam Square where you need to change to the Silom Line and then continue for another few stops, getting off at Chong Nonsi. The cafe can be found on your right-hand side.

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