Modern Thai dining in a chic setting presents a head-scratching concept
Serious money has been sunk into At-Ta-Rote, a revamped ex-Italian ristorante that’s morphed into a modern Thai dining room, opened in late-2016. The restaurant, at the very far end of Sukhumvit Soi 39, occupies a vast, glass space with plenty of natural light. Wooden beams and shiny fittings present a chic décor, with an indoor overspill of flora that drips with greenery, kind of like entering into a greenhouse for a dining reservation.
Speaking of reservations, there was a kerfuffle with mine, followed by problematic table seating (I was seated in a concealed corner despite the restaurant being almost empty). At my new table, with a view across the floor, I surveyed the menu, and discovered an explanation, a preface to my meal: “A glimpse of magnificent reflection of words, food and authentic Thai way.” Despite this, I’m no wiser.
To my relief, food descriptions are in Thai and English, with some vivid photographs of dishes, high-res enough that staff will understand if you lick the paper. I resisted the urge, and awaited service… then waited some more. Eventually, someone took my order, but there’s no encouragement or suggestions from the staff, no offer of a drink, so I step into unknown territory and nervously await the response.
Soon, waiters arrive with a succession of “trays” some of which I ordered, others I didn’t. Miang Kham (B185) wraps are a known Thai appetizer, introduced to the Siamese court of King Rama V by Queen Dara Rasamee. I take a handful of dried shrimps, garlic, ginger, shallots, roasted coconut, lemongrass, and green bird’s eye chillies, wrap it all in a lotus and betel nut leaf, and shove in my gob. It’s a tasty reflection of Thai cooking in one bite: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, spicy; unravelling in my mouth.
There’s also Pla Hang Tangmo (B175), those little watermelon cubes with dried fish and crispy shallots, and Gaeng Pet Ped Yarng (B230), a roasted duck curry in a creamy red paste and coconut milk base. It’s a delicious and meaty curry—not hot, but dense with flavour. Then, Nuea Pu Pad Prik Khee Noo (B450), a stir-fry of white crab meat mixed with fiery red chillies that brings a tear to the eye, marginally aided by a Passion Fruit smoothie (B130).
Desserts are a trio of Thai Flavour Homemade Ice Creams (B95): the sharp fruity tang of Very Berry, a surprisingly scrumptious Black Sticky Rice, but an unpleasant Aromatic Coconut Milk that tasted of mildewy mozzarella.
I can’t fault much of the food, but the service needs tweaking if they’re going to have a loyal customer base. For a restaurant in the extremities of a Sukhumvit side street, without the throng of pedestrian tourist buzz or footfall, you need to be performing across the board. Instead, what you get is a room that serves all the fashionable etiquette of a modern Thai restaurant, but lacking in consistency and without the wide-grin smiles the country is renowned for.
By David J. Constable
59/3, Sukhumvit Soi 39
Open daily: 11:30am-11pm
Tel: 064 249 4244