A grey stone staircase spirals into a lounge plucked out of the Roaring Twenties, each step upward like passing through the decades. Here, the wood is dark, the lights are dim, and the art is all Deco.
This temporal shift proves short-lived, however, as from the glass-faced kitchen arrives a plate of eggplant parmigiana terrine, dressed to the nines in tomato confit, roasted herbs, and well-placed bitter leaves, its outfit finished with one lone parmesan croquette. The presentation is lean and modern, the flavours reminiscent of a candlelit evening on the terrace, or a salt breeze blowing in off the Mediterranean. This appetiser heralds a menu that offsets Scalini’s fashionable, vintage design.
Italian chefs often stick, cement-like, to their roots. Chef Egidio Latorraca does not. While his dishes are built on the foundation of Italian technique and tradition, they often incorporate foreign influences. For example, the polipo arrostito con pomodori e patate (B880) — a dish of slow-cooked barbequed octopus — is turned fresh and summery with a salsa of heirloom tomatoes, kalamata olives, and green pea cream that looks and tastes a lot like guacamole. The hamburger di manzo and fegato grasso (B980), as the name suggests, merges Western comfort food with European fixings and Kobe beef. Like all dishes on the menu, it exudes the élan of an artiste: a de-constructed patty, polka dots of ketchup and gorgonzola sauce, a sprinkling of foie gras and balsamic-onion compote.
A Roman-style soup (B480) of braised oxtail, filled out with kale, quail eggs, oyster mushrooms, and tagliolini, whose thin strands and goldenrod colour leave a vague impression of bamee, bursts with distinct Asian notes. The broth has a deep burgundy hue and satisfying depth not unlike the Thai staple guay thiew rue. The familiar face of a tuna and salmon tartar (B540) gets an invigorating lift from lemon aioli and compressed pear. It’s as fresh as ceviche, but without the punch. Kurobuta pork belly, glazed with maple syrup and black pepper and served on a purée of green apple with vanilla-like tonka beans(B680), says little about Italy, but it tastes so impeccable, its texture balancing silken and crunchy elements so well, that spheres of influence don’t really matter.
Of course, the old is sometimes new, as well. For dessert, a chocolate cake titled torta della nonna (B340) —grandmother-style cake — pays homage to the kind of sweet treat that you might enjoy at Christmastime, in the comfort of home, parked by the hearth with a glass of red wine.
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Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok, 11 Sukhumvit 24 | 0 2620 6666 | facebook.com/scalinibangkok | daily 6am-11pm