Among the fine-dining stars and A-list eateries of Bangkok’s restaurant world, it’s sometimes difficult for great little places serving fabulous food to standout. One such venue that deserves its time in the light is Café Riviera. With superb food and prices self-deprecatingly reasonable compared to the expensive plates served up at tables around the city, this French owned bistro has the chops to rise higher.
Located near Glow, a few minutes’ walk down Sukhumvit 23, Café Riviera bills itself as the only restaurant in Thailand to offer authentic French Riviera cuisine; there are some Mediterranean dishes on the menu, too. Les Fameux Farçis Niçois (B190), comprised of baked vegetables stuffed with pork, is a classic appetizer from Nice. These Southern French morsels are packed with the aroma and earthy flavours of fresh herbs. The fennel salad with avocado, oranges, onions, and olives (B240) has the same understated sophistication as Monaco, from where it originates. The duo of seared and terrine foie gras with apple (B390) could wow even the fussiest of the foie gras weary crowd.
Duck confit with roasted potatoes, mushrooms, and bacon (B310) has substance and yet is succulent enough to fall off the bone. The dish has a lot going for it, although a few more vegetables and potatoes might balance the ratio better. Other mains are equally successful. For instance, the baked sea bass with rock salt and cinnamon, served with French-style rice (B310), is cooked to perfection.
The desserts are good enough to keep up with the Café Riviera quality while not stealing the show from the rest of the menu. Although a touch heavy, beneath its caramelized cover, the lavender crème brulee (B190) is redolent of the delicate kiss of its namesake flower. The mille-feuille cheesecake with honey and lavender (B190) is an interesting take on the Napoleon. It’s light and airy, yet an acquired taste.
The terrace seating, big windows, and modern interiors give it a relaxed vibe ideal for after-work dinners or weekend reprieves with friends and families. On Sundays, there’s a pizza brunch, an enticing change to the brunch routine. There are plenty of tempting, well-priced wines to round out meals, as well.
With an honest approach to food and an unwavering attitude toward quality in the kitchen, this bistro should shine; however, it must overcome the trope that fantastic food is enough in a city where daily deals and a good helping of marketing magic often lure hungry, yet fickle, diners through the doors.
Sukhumvit 23 (first soi on the right) | 0 2259 3033 | caferivierabkk.com | Mon-Fri 6pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-10pm