Continental cuisine carried off with a fabulous French flair
While this French bistro-esque Wireless Road venue is perhaps best known for its afternoon tea (served from 2:30pm to 5:30pm), there’s much more to Café Claire than cakes and sandwiches.
When it was launched five years ago it proved an instant hit amongst both business customers and Bangkok celebs, and sat amongst the slick but simple décor it’s not difficult to see why. It’s intimate without being crowded, and upscale without being stuffy.
I visited the European-style eatery during early evening, when the all-day menu of fine French cuisine, inventive cocktails, and tempting wines becomes far more appealing than a stack of sweet treats. Starting with the Onion Soup (B310) I was instantly transported to a Parisian patio, lapping up every spoonful of the hearty broth. Atop the comforting soup sat a thick, messy layer of croutons and smooth Emmental cheese—served just as overflowing and clumsy as this dish should be. A selection of breads baked at the restaurant’s in-house bakery provided the perfect sponge to the flavoursome stock.
Of course, if France’s signature starter isn’t quite continental enough for you, there’s always a plate of authentic escargot (that’s cooked land snail) to whet your appetite. This slippery dish of six snails (B380) is served with the prerequisite parsley and garlic butter sauce and—to gastropod first-timers—may just pleasantly surprise you.
Onto the main, I dined on the Entrecôte au Roquefort (B1,100), an 8oz sirloin steak served with a creamy cheese sauce, crisp vegetables, and almond potatoes. Cooked to order, the carnivorous plate was an absolute pleasure. Far from a monotonous trudge—as a poor steak often can be—this tender chunk was packed with savoury flavours, perfectly off-set by the smoothness of the Roquefort sauce. The vegetables and potato croquettes made a fine accompaniment, providing a much needed bite between meaty mouthfuls.
Though I was struggling for space for dessert, I’m glad I soldiered on as the final course was perhaps the best brownie I’ve ever encountered. In fact, since eating it, I’ve shunned other, no doubt inferior brownies at other establishments, as I know no other will compare. The Hot Fudge Brownie with Ice Cream (B300) arrived at the table sizzling hot, ready to be drizzled in a rich chocolate sauce. Cameras at the ready for this one, as the server pours a dark syrup over the plate and it hisses and bubbles over the heat. This rectangular piece of dessert heaven, packed with soft cashews, was delectably moist, positively melting on the tongue. Sweet-toothed or not, this one is a must try for all.
To complement all that French dining, some French wining is a must. Luckily, Café Claire offers a good selection of house whites, reds, and sparkling. Prices by the glass start from B240, and from B1,100 for a bottle.
By Annaliese Watkins
Oriental Residence, 110 Witthayu Rd.
Tel: 02 125 9000
Open daily: 6-10:30am, 11:30am-5:30pm, 6pm-11pm