Heard it through thegrapevine

A winebar-eatery where the food doesn't take a backseat

Not so long ago, Pradit Manutham, a six-lane road linking Ekamai to the residential suburb of Ram Intra, was a popular domain for entertainment-driven eateries in which frivolous frills _ live music, karaoke, cheap booze and outlandish settings _ took precedence over the quality of the cuisine.

This casual wine bar-restaurant lulled by Billboard hits, bossa nova and American country tunes is lent a haute touch by French Art Nouveau decoration.

Due to the city's expansion, over the past few years this once subdued vicinity has become the home of upmarket estates and stylish malls. Consequently, a more sophisticated lifestyle and more refined dining preferences has evolved among its dwellers.

Just like other Bangkok metro areas, Pradit Manutham has fallen under the oenological spell and the strip now boasts a number of jam-packed restaurants that glorify Bacchus. Chief among them is D'Vine, a wine bar-restaurant which opened a few months ago at Crystal shopping arcade on the outbound side of the road.

The tapas high tea platter presents six popular treats in small portions.

D'Vine occupies a showcase frontal space of the two-storey shopping complex and can be spotted from the main road. Its Art Nouveau decor _ cast-iron gate and panels, Parisian bistro furniture and antique lighting fixtures _ is typical of upscale wine bars, lending a haute-but-not-haughty feel to this casual space lulled by Billboard hits, bossa nova and American country tunes.

D'Vine has a presentable selection of tapas. Guests can pick some from its 30-item tapas menu, or go for the tapas high tea (590 baht) which presents six of the best sellers and is ideal for a group. The small-portion treats can be paired with a decent collection of wines, cocktails and other liquors. The seven house wines are priced 180 baht-280 baht per glass.

From the tapas collection I fell in love with sauteed mixed mushroom and Italian sausage (100 baht). The mushrooms were tossed with Italian-style seasoned minced pork to offer an addictive chomp _ combining the fungi's pleasant chewiness with the fragrant and flavourful meat.

Meanwhile, the crispy calamari (80 baht) was enjoyed with rather sweet dipping sauce, and the flank steak with Thai-style spicy salty jaew sauce (150 baht) was also nice.

From the main menu, we started off with D'Vine Caesar salad (190 baht). The enjoyable dish featured young romain lettuce drenched with creamy Caesar dressing and topped with poached egg, brittle bacon strips, grated Parmesan and slices of garlic toast.

With options rather characteristic than run of the mill, the restaurant's pasta selection offered an interesting read. We passed the likes of artichoke shrimp linguini in white wine sauce, homemade fettucine with smoked duck breast and sunkist orange and ravioli with ricotta cheese and spinach in sage butter sauce. Instead, we settled for crispy homemade tagliolini with truffle cream sauce (190 baht).

Pan-fried snow fish with sauteed spinach, mashed potato and brandy sauce.

What arrived our table reminded me of Chinese-style deep-fried egg noodles rather than the Italian pasta, topped with cheesy cream sauce. The salty, sweet and creamy sauce, in which the chopped mushroom, bacon and parsley came bathed, was rich in both taste and consistency. Though the crispy pasta seemed to me like an intelligent culinary idea at first, yet, judging from its mouthfeel, I later found that this kind of sauce would go more nicely with traditionally cooked noodles.

For main course, we ordered pan-fried snow fish with sauteed spinach, mashed potato and brandy sauce (620 baht). A nice chunk of fish, pan-seared to present a brown and slightly crispy surface with the meat still supple, was served on top of mashed potato and sauteed spinach and leavened with pungent brandy sauce. The fish, however, seemed to lack the distinctive rich and oily flavour, probably due to its frozen quality.

This restaurant-tapas bar is also a divine destination for the sweet of tooth. You can order the most interesting sounding dessert from the menu, or choose from a nice repertoire of daily-made cakes and baked items available from a display shelf at the front of ther dining hall. My recommendation? The warm dark chocolate cake (220 baht) perfectly baked to reveal a lava-like centre that tasted not too sweet and intermingled superbly with a scoop of vanilla sorbet.

Homemade tagliolini with truffle cream sauce.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Vanniya Sriangura
Position: News Reporter