For people who are born and raised in Bangkok, burgers probably don't conjure images of a gourmet meal. They are more akin to a grab-and-go kind of deal; a 7-Eleven snack to wolf down when in a hurry. You might grab one at McDonald's, Burger King or Carl's Jr. after your boss makes it clear that your lunch break is one hour maximum. Maybe you have one delivered while watching a football match or TV series marathon with friends on a quiet night in.
However, over the past few years, we've seen the appearance of more eateries that serve fine burgers in Bangkok - Burger Factory in Ekamai Soi 10, Firehouse in Sukhumvit Soi 11, Hyde & Seek Gastro Bar in Soi Ruam Rudi, Buddy Boys' Diner on Ratchaphreuk Road - to name just four.
Enter Escapade, a new burger joint that recently opened on the historical Phra Athit Road, which also escapes many restaurant conventions.
The brainchild of noted chef Chalermpon "Van" Rohitratana and award-winning mixologist Karn Liangsrisuk is located on a passage that leads up to an old wooden house. The indoor area and first part of this restaurant is narrow but equipped with a bar/kitchen so people with burger bellies (such as myself) might find it a bit claustrophobic. You can appreciate the artworks on the wall from a stiff wooden chair while smelling meat cooking or watch Karn work his mixing magic. Chef Van looks like a tattoo artist with his inked arm, shaved head and goatee. He and Karn keep the vibe casual so it looks like they are expecting close friends rather than customers to drop by.
More surprising elements await in the outdoor area where you can dine in the presence of a spirit house. The toilet appears ordinary until you see the mural of cool monsters inside. The
other decor, while interesting, may feel untidy to those who are used to upholstered armchairs and all that sophisticated jazz. And while you may not hang here for the atmosphere, the food should make you want to stick around longer.
If you're one of those people who like to brag that you eat sa-pi-cy, Silent wings (B150 per six pieces, B230 per 10 pieces) should shut you the hell up. These wings fly very high on the Scoville scale as they are coated with 10 kinds of chillies in squid ink. They are so spicy that I get Angelina Jolie's lips without a trip to Yanhee Hospital. Strangely I enjoy them but they are not for everyone. The added bonus is that you'll get to make your own abstract art on a big napkin as you wipe the black ink off your fingers.
Frost orangery (B80) comes to my rescue with refreshing sensation. It's three layers of delight contained in one cup. Slowly lift the straw up as you suck the drink to really appreciate it from bottom to top. Passion fruit with seed will freshen you up first. Next comes the mellow mix of milk, vanilla ice cream, elderflower syrup and more sweeten up your mood before flakes of durian chips send you off with salty crunchiness. I've paid more for drinks that are less creative and have less soul.
With a side of chunky French fries, Quarter cow (B280; B40 more for black bun) leaves a big fat dent in my memory. The whole-wheat buns are crisp on the outside and flank two patties, truffle paste, cheese and more. I barely fit them all in my mouth. The meat is juicy with a touch of salt and the truffle is aromatic.
Served with onion rings, Lamb burger (B250) is savoury with a hidden sweet side. The buns are black with chocolate powder. If you go bah to the unique smell of baby sheep, the good news is that it is cleverly hidden by the slightly bitter bun and scent of chocolate.
Silent wings Quarter cow Lamb burger
Dead dog (B160; B200 for two sausages) might keep you full for a few days. The smoked pork sausage bursts with juice as you sink your teeth into it. Long bacon strips are tasty and oily. The jalapeno cheese sauce keeps the combo from being too overwhelming, in my opinion.
Tea berry tea flower
Not everything on offer at Escapade is heavy with calories. Try Tea berry tea flower (B65) for a refreshing and mildly sweet sip. Or ask Karn to stir up a fruity cocktail for you. There are two ways to go about ordering a drink here. For B140-B200 per glass, you'll get a customised cocktail that is based on Thai liquors. Or pay B250-B350 for a more sophisticated spirit.
People who frequent Khao San Road should definitely stop by Escapade for some hearty food and drink. For those who aren't familiar with the area, get off a Chao Phraya Express boat at Phra Athit pier. And there are many historic sites to visit and bars to hit up to complete a night out in the area.
About the author
- Writer: Pornchai Sereemongkonpol
Position: Guru Reporter