Nice venue for A wine wedding

At first encounter, I'd surmised that Chatrium's inaugural wine dinner, held at its chilled-out pool terrace commanding panoramic infinity river views far upstream and down, was all set up for an ensuing society wedding, complete with silver and gold photo op and speech stage topped with a maid of honor arch.

(From left) Therdsak Pawitpanich, Director of Food & Beverage, Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok; Adrian Brown; Patt Srinoi, Managing Director and Anirut Posakrisna, Chairman of Wine Dee Dee Co., Ltd., Stonefish wine distributor, and Andrew Brown.

Too bad, I'd thought, that it slightly obscured the river view straight ahead, if still leaving two dramatic sweeps of the compass either side and, what's more, pointing the way to a winding staircase leading down to a viewing terrace so evidently set up to scan the inky drink that it was a surprise to find no coin-operated binoculars or postcard sellers.

Then I remembered - or rather was reminded - that the evening's theme was billed as "the informal marriage of one of the finest Australian new age wineries, Stone Fish, with a selection of culinary delights created by our Executive Chef Andrew Brown." An all-Australian billing as such, though Andrew has gadded about quite a bit during his career under a toke.

Whether or not the stage was carrying the allusion a bit far, as the hotel's affable GM, Adrian Brown, ultimately gave his spiel about the wines and cuisine from in front of, rather than atop, the shallow stage, diplomatically not wishing to put himself above his largely Thai and Antipodean guests, one could not fault the production on its effort to please.

Indeed, as expansive were the views, so the hospitality - seven live food stations in a tidy row consecutively presenting a course apiece accompanied by a specially chosen Stonefish wine plus a welcome glass of sparkling - was both generous and, from a culinary and oenological point of view, undeniably excellent.

"Please, if you find a wine you like, go back for more," intoned the GM. As the selections included wines from the Barossa Valley, Margaret River and the Hunter Valley we didn't need a second invitation.

While Adrian Brown stood up for the wines, the unrelated chef-de-cuisine, Andrew Brown, fielded casual inquiries into the philosophy behind the equally delectable edible delicacies.

Clearly a gifted but unpretentious man who admits to having been classically trained in the culinary arts (in other words he knows his sauces), he betrayed none of the prima donna antics TV celebrity chefs make no apologies for and was quick to accept the blanket term "Pac-Rim Cuisine" I suggested as a catch all.

On the other hand, he also didn't hesitate to deliver a whirlwind verbal resumee citing several countries he had worked in, all of which, he indicated, were responsible for influences he has assimilated, many of which were expressed on the evening's plates.

But before going on about how good the food and wine was, a word about the weather. Riverside dining is always a delight but, let's face it, can be a bit sticky, even with a cooling breeze. However, it transpires that there is something about enjoying a certain elevation, as here, that seems to dry the air out, so that, in addition to being cooler outdoors than in many another al fresco location in Bangkok, there is negligible energy-sapping humidity to contend with.

The menu included a pre dinner, 1st course, 2nd course, main course, cheese and dessert, so no stinting on quantity. We started with White Asparagus in Crisp Pastry with Passion Fruit Hollandaise, Ceviche of Scallops with Lime & Lemongrass (paired with Stonefish Brut Cuvee Hunter Valley NSW, NV). That was followed by Spiced Breast of Quail with Mango Chutney, Chicken Roulade with a Creamy Anis & Mint Dressing, Crumbed Duck Confit with Pineapple Marmalade (paired with Stonefish Sauvignon Blanc '2011 Margaret River WA)

Next up: Saute{aac}ed Sea Bass with Citrus and Fond Jacqueline (paired with Stonefish Chardonnay '2011 Margaret River WA). Then the mains: New Zealand Venison Loin with Spiced Capsicum Sauce, Prawn Paella and a Wild Mushroom & Rocket Salad (paired with Stonefish Merlot '2008 Margaret River WA). Followed by Blue Cheese Mille Feuille with Pickled Cherries (paired with Concerto Shiraz '2008 Barossa Valley SA).

Dessert was Peach Crostata with Marsala Cream, Tender Peach on Crisp Pastry with Marsala Cream (paired with Flying Finix Reserve '2006 Riverina NSW).Chatrium itself will come as a surprise to anyone who hasn't poked their noses in there yet. It's big, for one, comprising significant condo, serviced apartment and hotel developments set in a solid row. Moreover, generous amounts of public space have been left, so that the overriding city centre sensation of congestion is mercifully missing altogether.

On the other hand, it's not exactly quiet or remote. What with neighbouring Shrewsbury International School and the hubub of New Road nearby, the development can even support not only its own 7-Eleven - and on a scale not far short of most neighbourhood supers - but also a Starbucks and a classy looking Japanese restaurant, Saizen.

As for the hotel, it offers two permanent dining possibilities; an excellent riverside buffet at River Barge (Bt999++ dinner) with indoor and river terrace seating options, and a rooftop, indoors fine dining Cantonese restaurant, Silver Waves.

One sensed a few first night nerves about and a slight over-eagerness to explain everything and volunteer how future such soirees might be improved, though there was no need on either score, which somehow all the more ingratiated the formula.

For what more of a draw could one ask than a balmy clime not necessitating an extra application of Axe, stonking river views, genial hosts and the enthusiastically applied services of a highly talented internationally-minded chef mated to wonderful wines from around the world? And here's the clincher: it was also a snip at just Bt1,500++.


CHATRIUM HOTEL RIVERSIDE BANGKOK.
28 Charoenkrung Road. Tel. 02 307 8888.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Noel Maclean
Position: Holiday Time writer