Swiss perfection

Igniv Bangkok serves up modern European cuisine through a unique shared meal exprience

Left  The glamorous yet casual dining room, a work by world famous Spanish interior designer Patricia Urquiola.

There's rarely a time that I wish every second of a restaurant experience will linger in my memory, but a visit to the brand-new Igniv Bangkok proved to be just that.

The brainchild of globally-acclaimed chef Andreas Caminada, Igniv, which means "nest" in the Rhaeto-Romance language subfamily, is a fine-dining restaurant which offers a shared meal experience.

Being a perfectionist, Caminada is treasured for his extraordinary culinary creations that stem from exciting artistic elements. There's no wonder then why every detail exhibited at his restaurants from the visual impression to the flavours, service and vibe is always fascinating.

His meticulousness has earned him seven Michelin stars, three for the Schloss Schauenstein restaurant in Fürstenau and two each from Igniv St Moritz and Igniv Bad Ragaz in the Swiss Alps.

Igniv Bangkok is Caminada's first-ever venture outside Switzerland.

Leading the Bangkok branch is Swiss head chef David Hartwig, a longtime friend of Caminada from Schloss Schauenstein and German pastry chef Arne Riehn. Both Hartwig and Riehn spent almost a year perfecting the restaurant's menu before today's grand opening, so you can say they are more than ready and very confident.

Modern European cuisine is what they label their craft. Dishes are presented in an imaginative fine dining style but they can be enjoyed by the guests in their own comfort, sometimes even using their hands.

Although à la carte dishes are available, the restaurant highly recommends that diners opt for the "sharing experience" tasting menu.

Head chef David Hartwig, right, and pastry chef Arne Riehn.

This menu is a well-curated gastronomic journey that features parades of snacks and starters, followed by the main course, dessert and ends with a visit to the "candy store".

Prices are 1,900 baht per person for a three-course lunch (a total of 12 small-portioned dishes) and 3,800 baht per person for a four-course dinner (15 small-portioned dishes) plus a bag of takeaway confectionery of your choice.

The selection of snacks, designed to liven the palate before the meal, for me doubled as a commemoration of Igniv's arrival in Bangkok. It showcased the ingenious unification of fine local produce and European cooking techniques with a comforting touch of the Thai flavour profile.

Starters are offered in two batches. Otherwise, a dining table would not be able to accommodate them all.

There's the soft and silky duck liver terrine capped with Mandarin gel and accompanied by yoghurt foam. Meanwhile, the sea bass is presented in a very zesty ceviche form with radish and dill oil.

The beef tartare, one of the best renditions I've ever eaten, was given a mild nutty tang thanks to the finely-grated raw hazelnuts and complementing the delicate-texture beef were extraordinarily airy and crispy, almost starch-free housemade potato chips.

A stater plate of lettuce, kimchi and smoked mayonnaise.

Fresh romaine lettuce, kimchi, calamansi gel and smoked mayonnaise -- although intense in taste -- was the next item.

There was also a dish that showcased three variations of tomatoes with a touch of chives and dill. The heavenly creation will amuse both tomato connoisseurs and doubters alike.

The last starter, a thick fillet of smoked fresh hamachi seasoned with sweet cured celery, arrived on a grill. Lending a pungent finish to the supple fish was a black pepper crust and wasabi cream with the latter served on the side.

Just as I was thinking that the chef had probably already shown all his magic through the non-stop offering of starters, four platters of the main course then emerged.

First was the cauliflower, which I'd say was the nearest thing (together with a butternut squash dish which I will talk about later) to vegetarian paradise.

One of the many snacks designed to excite your palate before the meal.

The bite-sized pieces of cooked cauliflower, boasting a crusty truffle-glazed exterior and springily chewy centre, were served in a warm pool of frothy brown butter sauce with fresh shavings of black truffle.

Next were the tender and flavoursome rectangular strips of BBQ pork shoulder, offered with fresh plum and flavourful prune sauce.

A beef short rib served with mashed celeriac and caramelised onion garnish proved so scrumptious that it required no extra condiment since a tasty helping of salsa verde came on the side.

Next, the butternut squash came out with a heavenly Hollandaise espuma.

The dish featured the pumpkin-like squash in various forms, including roasted, finely-diced and pureed. All were about genuine natural flavour and textural fun.

Ending the meal was a generous offering of desserts by chef Riehn.

Hamachi with cured celery and wasabi cream.

His creatively-crafted delicacies included a rich and delicious chocolate tart with mango cream; a bittersweet and airy chocolate souffle, both prepared with cocoa beans grown in Thailand; and a super zesty basil-lime sorbet with white chocolate crumbles.

However, what Riehn was most proud to present seemed to be his spectacular and comfortingly luscious creation called Igniv Sundae. As if an installation of winter art, the dessert boasted neatly-arranged layers of milk custard, shaved milky ice, caramelised cashew nuts and milk foam meringue.

The pastry master-cum-sous chef is also a jovial keeper of a candy store where house-made goodies such as chocolate bark, fruit jellies, macarons, Madelines, Caneles, salted caramel and a wide variety of chocolate-coated nuts await guests.

During my visit, the service was a perfect balance between flawless professionalism and heartfelt cordiality, so it truly deserves an accolade. Reservations are highly recommended.

The beef short rib with salsa verde.

The chocolate tart with mango cream.

Butternut squash with Hollandaise espuma.

The glamorous dining room has a casual vibe and features peppy background music.

The sea bass ceviche with radish and dill oil.

  • Igniv Bangkok
  • St. Regis, 1st floor Ratchadamri Road
  • Call 02-207-7822
  • Open noon to 3pm and 6-11pm, Wednesday to Sunday
  • Park at the hotel’s car park
  • Most credit cards accepted

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