Regular visitors to Sukhumvit Soi 11 will no doubt be familiar with the handy laneway that runs left from Cheap Charlie’s – it is, after all, one of the more useful little dining stretches in that neighbourhood, revealing a wide selection of well-executed but still accessible and unpretentious restaurants. Amid this melting pot is the delightfully Gallic Chez Pape, its walls lined with hundreds of pictures of French luminaries, its décor lovingly recreating Parisian bistros.
For the most part, the menu brims with traditional French fare, an indulgent roll call of sauces and great bread, seafood and meat. Those in the mood for a proper French feast won’t be disappointed but that’s not to say Chez Pape feels routine. Rather, there are enough surprises, both in terms of the combinations and the presentation to elevate Chez Pape’s food to something altogether more impressive.
Starting with the appetisers, there is a ceviche of barracuda in chilli and citrus (B160) or the tartare of avocado, crab and green apple (above right, B200), both hitting the right notes: light, fresh, seafood flavours offset with the right amount of seasonings. But perhaps it’s in the more provincial dishes that Chez Pape really declares its hand, offering a port-marinated foie gras terrine, served with toast and mango marmalade (B285). It’s not unusual to see foie gras served with sweetish, fruity sides but here the mango is subtle enough that the foie gras still stands out.
The early courses are certainly impressive enough to build expectation for the mains without being so concept-heavy that they create confusion. And, indeed, the big plates tell you everything you need to know about Chez Pape’s ambitions. The pan-seared beef flank, an exquisite cut of meat, comes with goat-cheese ravioli and garnished with virgin sauce (B450) – it’s a deeply satisfying combination. Twisting the formula a little further is the duck breast served with apples, spinach and Japanese citrus dressing (B510). It’s a fine example of Chez Pape’s commitment to doing the inimitably French things well while borrowing and augmenting with inspired touches from elsewhere along the way.
It may sound like a challenge but leave room for dessert as the poached strawberries in syrup and ice cream (B230), although they sound straightforward, are a highlight.
1/28-29 Soi Sukhumvit 11 | 02-255-2492 | chezpape.com
5pm-11.30pm, Sat-Sun also 11.30am-2.30pm
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