Is a spade a spade in Bangkok? A Lamborghini is certainly a Lamborghini, particularly in Thong Lor. So what of a new venue in the heart of the city's high class called Gossip? Is it worth talking about? Indeed, it seems to be, regardless of whether the irony of its name is intended or not.
The setting of the venue just itching for tabloid column space is a new building at the end of the short Thong Lor Soi 15, which puts it a couple of minutes' walk from some of the most popular bar spots of the city right now - SeenSpace, Penny's Balcony, Grass - if Thong Lor is your thing, that is.
The venue itself is slightly poky, and crams in an al fresco area and indoor dining area on the ground floor as well as a water feature even, and a floor upstairs for more intimate dining. True to the central motif of the venue, banter appears through the decor, which is along the same polished lines as Oskar with further touches of Casa Pagoda furniture store pieces. Downstairs, the bar dominates the space, as it does in Oskar, outlining the priorities of the venue pretty clearly. The chef and bartender can fight that one out between themselves.
The Gossip Guys in question are none other than most of the line-up of the well-schmoozed spot of Oskar in Sukhumvit Soi 11. Chef Julien Lavigne is back in the kitchen, still batting below his high average that he developed at the illustrious D'Sens at Dusit Thani, where he cut his teeth in Thailand before venturing out on his own with Oskar. Still, he has more control over the atmosphere these days, and other things that go on outside the kitchen, so can't be too frustrated with the limitations of a less demanding menu. Another essential element in the Gossip mix is Italian-Pole Karol Ansaldi, who has come over from Zuma in Bangkok, and originally London too.
While Julien would be terrified to hear it, on show here are really the drinks. It's a bar/restaurant rather than the other way around, so the pressure is on the drink's list. But Karol delivers with poise and style (not that it's a competition).
On the cocktail list are a number of highlights, including Flowers fields spritzer (B240, prices subject to tax and service charge), which is a refreshing cleanser with its rose and eiderflower tones and a perfect palette opener. Racyrose (B240) is another well-balanced selection of juices offset with local flavours of chilli and lemongrass and topped with lychee and rose foam to good effect. Mangosteen and elderflower sour (B240) also combines continents without overdoing any one element. Vats of infused vodkas and other potions sit atop shelves next to the well-considered selections of rum, and single malts amongst other treats. All cocktails tried were winners, but ask Karol for something bespoke.
Flowers fields spritzer
In terms of food, the banter-worthy goodness continues. Under cheeky banners such as "Small Talk", "Hot News" and "The Full Story" (appetizers, raw dishes and main courses, respectively) is a straightforward but well-considered spread of familiar favourites with touches of flair from Chef Julien who reveals his hi-food origins in some menu moments. It's definitely a notch up from the tasty-but-predictable fare at Oskar. Steamed prawn bites (B130) are picked up well by the accompanying kaffir lime mayo. Quail & foie gras salad (B360) is a simple and delicious spread of salad topped with flavour bombs of pumpkin and foie gras. Barracuda carpaccio (B220) is a less impressive, flat and bland plate of white carpaccio that loses its subtle soft flavour to the sauce. Morel & cep risotto (B360) is another peak with Comte cheese brought in from France and giving the rice a creamy moorish base. As is the well-presented Cod fish en papillote. Raspberry souffle (B220) is a well-executed straight take on the classic. With its flavour peaks and troughs, there is plenty to talk about on the menu, with something for everyone.
While Oskar is more of a place to hit and run, on the way to one of the growing number of after dinner venues on Sukhumvit, Gossip is a place you might linger a little while longer. You may come to be talked about, but stay longer for more cocktails or plates. Go see for youself, before the hype takes over the hyperbole.G
About the author
- Writer: Richard Mcleish