Bangkok Post reviews
Uncorking a fine selection
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: July 5, 2013 at 8:10 am
New establishment introduces Bangkokians to another milestone in wine appreciation
Over the past few years, the phenomenal expansion of stylish wine bistros offering low-priced wines has brought oenological aspirations to the mass market. That's a step in the right direction for our gastronomic culture, of course. Yet, in the midst of this "cheap-wine, we-love-you" evolution, more discerning Bangkok oenophiles may have been wondering if there will be a place as visually modish for them to call home.
Opened four months ago, Cellar 11 Wine Bistro introduces Bangkokians to yet another milestone in wine appreciation. Backed by investors with deep pockets, this stand-alone establishment combines the vivacity of contemporary wine bars with a high-mind gratification of premium wine.
The wine bar-cum-restaurant occupies a lavishly renovated, two-storey house on a one-rai plot. The swanky main eatery on the ground floor is decked out to highlight the glamour and innovation of the viticultural sphere. The second floor features two spectacular private chambers: the 20-seat Robert Mondavi room, and the attic-like Penfolds room. The real atmospheric climax, the Moet & Chandon cellar, is magnificently set underground.
Cellar 11 may be a wine-orientated venue, but when it comes to culinary matters, the management obviously doesn't stint on quality.
The cellar's one-page menu is straightforward, if not simple. It mostly features dishes prepared with prime-grade ingredients including deep-ocean produce from Europe, duck liver from France, red meat from Australia and fine seafood from Japan. Naturally, each dish comes with a suggested wine pairing _ and what a selection they boast, with 1,500 labels in stock, and as many as 32 options of wine by the glass ready to be served on a daily basis.
Cellar 11 is one of the very few establishments in the Kingdom to have state-of-the-art wine dispensers (five machines, in total) to ensure precise servings by the glass. Prices range from 70 baht per glass for a sipping portion (25cl) of Italian chardonnay to 4,000 baht for a full glass (150cl) of Grand Cru-grade Robert Mondavi.
Dinner started with a complimentary platter of house-baked bread, which proved impressive.
Regulars often kick off their feast here with a cold platter (market price) comprised of top-grade Canadian lobster, steamed and served whole, Hokkaido giant scallops, tiger prawns, New Zealand mussels and Fine de Claire oysters.
Roasted Canadian lobster with lobster foam and organic vegetables.
The fresh-seafood was accompanied by three choices of dipping sauce: the traditional shallot vinegar, spicy Thai-style seafood sauce and mayonnaise.
Another popular starter is pan-fried Toulouse foie gras with mixed organic salad, berry and mixed berry sauce (620 baht). The dish exhibited a large slab of duck liver, pan-fried until the skin was brown and tightly encasing the silky firm centre. The berry sauce, however, was a bit mild in taste.
A real palate-pleaser was the restaurant's signature, sauteed angel hair pasta with fresh sea urchin roe, mentaiko and garlic olive oil (950 baht). The fine strands of noodles, simply tossed with garlic, spicy roe of Japanese pollock and the fatty sea urchin delicacy, nicely absorbed the flavours of all the condiments to create a slightly salty pasta dish that was very addictive.
From the list of main courses, I was truly satisfied with duck confit (690 baht). Prepared according to the French recipe, the triple-cooked duck leg was served with super delicious mashed truffle-potato and honey thyme sauce. The duck displayed a very thin and crispy skin that revealed underneath the salty, easily-fall-off-the-bone meat which intermingled perfectly with the aromatic thyme-infused gravy.
The other sumptuous entree was roasted Canadian lobster with lobster foam (1,750 baht). It featured a whole lobster, properly cooked to yield a naturally sweet taste and supple texture, with feather-light espuma that was rich and buttery in flavour, accompanied by an assortment of steamed organic vegetables.
There are three selections of desserts available. The most highlighted, soft bitter chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and mixed berry (320 baht), provided a sweet and divine finale to the evening.
The restaurant lures executive types on weekdays and local families on weekends. The majority of them are wine enthusiasts. Service is efficient, with all service staff members able to recommend wines.