Is Vertigo, the city’s original, decade-old rooftop dining venue, still the must-visit it once was? Or have the masses tired of stratospheric locations and equally elevated prices? Or even moved on to the competition? Judging by a recent visit, the Banyan Tree’s flagship dining establishment still does the business, though mostly with couples, it has to be said. And, of course, the setting still wows. Soaring 200 metres above street level, how could it not? Soft house music and a gentle night breeze flutter over its multi-level wooden decks (the Moon bar side of which was being refurbished on our visit), and whichever way you look, your eye is drawn to a seemingly endless, 21st century cityscape. Bangkok still never looked more Bladerunner.
The menu is tidily short, presenting Pacific Rim standards which appear just as refined as that ambassador’s wife’s gown the next table over. Undeniably not the place for a cheap night out, soups start from B400++, salads B500++, appetizers B650++. Meanwhile, seafood and meat mains range from B1,000-2,900 ++, and there are eight set menus (B2,200++ – B6,000++ no wine, B3,300++ – B8,700++ with wine). They also do a good line in “sustainably sourced” Australian and Japanese steaks.
We started things off with some new signatures, including the swordfish Carpaccio garnished with chili, rocket and ginger. Served, like all the signatures, on an elongated plate, it was a subtle, mild dish, the ginger cutting through. Even better were the tataki of wagyu, which are melt-in-your-mouth oblongs of beef cooked rare in shoyu, or Japanese soy sauce. Neither, though, could match the spicy kick and decadence of the tuna tartar, which was a slab topped off with guacamole and lemon caviar.
Not long after, our mains arrived decked with raw greens on oversized, deep plates. There was a pan-roasted free range chicken, the lean meat marrying well with the tarragon jus and a spot-on mash; and a lamb shank served with cumin-spiced potatoes, young roots and a little pot of sweet massaman curry sauce. Both demonstrated the Executive Chef’s fondness for sous-vide cooking, the meat in the case of the latter getting the treatment for three days, said the waiter.
Desserts are Thai twists like the Thai tea crème brûlée, or the even richer mango and sticky rice with mascarpone served in a cocktail glass. That or sumptuous takes on European favourites such as the mille feuille of tropical berries with vanilla cream, or fresh fig tart with Thai honey, goat cheese cream and almonds. Wines are as you’d expect (wide-ranging, mostly Old World), as is the service (swift and sharp).
Vertigo is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but for a romantic dinner to remember, which is what most people seem to come here for, there’s still nowhere that can match it.
Banyan Tree Bangkok
21/100 South Sathon Rd | 02-679-1200 | MRT Lumphini | banyantree.com