On a quiet winter night, despite the freezing cold—at least by Thai standards—a few brave souls dine al fresco at Luce. Who could blame them? Seated beside the Eastin Grand Sathorn’s infinity pool, there is hardly a better way to soak up the city during an unprecedented cold snap. Yet the ambiance of the inside, filled out with dark natural wood and attractive lighting, transcends the whims of the weather, inviting diners to sip on aperitifs in timeless Italian sophistication.
Designed by Chef Edoardo Bonavolta, the menu makes it immediately clear that the focus is on authentic Tuscan fare. Start with the aptly named antipasto Toscano (B790), a lavish sharing platter of high-quality meats, cheeses, pickled artichokes, and a warm chicken pâté on bruschetta, the star of the board. Then look to the tomato mozzarella salad (B390). An island of soft buratta cheese sits in a sea of sweet tomato emulsion, the whole dish screaming freshness. This would be a perfect time to start consider the wine, by the way. Luce actually takes its name from the renowned southern Italian wine, so naturally there is a wide selection of bottles, including those from the Luce and Frescobaldi cellars.
If you’re feeling peckish, try the octopus al diavolo (B590). As visually impressive as it is delicious, the meaty slow-cooked octopus could be the highpoint of any meal. The octopus melts in the mouth and is complemented by a tomato sauce with a slight chilli kick. Meat-lovers might prefer the grilled Australian lamb chops with pistachio crust (B990), accompanied by a mortadella jus so satisfying you’ll want to bottle it and have it at home with hamburgers, toast, eggs—probably even plain white rice (B990).
The menu also offers a selection of traditional Tuscan-style pizzas and pastas, fare for those who hanker for more visually conventional Italian cuisine. But for those wanting an easy introduction into Luce’s world, the degustation menu is just the ticket. B1290 buys a starter, pasta course, main, and dessert—an extremely reasonable whistle-stop tour around Tuscany letting you sample all the region’s delights.
Despite what Bill Buford would have you believe, it’s not all browns and meats in Tuscany. Chef Bonavolta is kindling a passion for vegan cuisine. Should you visit Luce in March or April during white asparagus season, you’ll have the chance to sample special dishes devised to highlight the veg. He’s also promised a raw vegan option on the set menu. It will be well worth revisiting to see what he creates.
14F Eastin Grand Hotel, 33/1 South Sathorn Rd | 0 2210 8100 | facebook.com/LuceRestaurantBangkok | daily noon-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm