Clean comfort

Clara keeps it simple

(Photos: Siroj Pairomahakij)

Clara is one of those Bangkok restaurants that is immediately visually appealing, on the plate and off it. It never ceases to draw you into its peaceful ambience, with classic hospitality and art-filled interiors.

Even if you do not score the much-coveted table in the corner, which I sat at (flex), at Clara on Soi Prasat Suk you're assured the same quality meal and excellent service. The current tasting menu (5 Regions Menu B2,680++, 7 Regions Menu B3,080++), which lasts till June, is called "Once Upon A Time In Italy -- Chapter In 7 Seasons" and takes you on a journey from the north to south. Friuli Venezia Giulia is the first course served in three parts and is seafood delight from the Adriatic Sea. Langoustine or scampi served with popcorn polenta and apple, Sea scallop marinated in lemon served with parsley oil and quinoa crumble, and Razor clams (hot this season) with buckwheat crisp, herb pesto and raspberry cooked in nitrogen.

White asparagus with tarragon sabayon.

It is almost impossible to escape certain seasonal produce and one such ingredient is the white asparagus. Veneto comprises a variation of White asparagus with tarragon sabayon, egg yolk and if you're feeling luxurious, add a dollop of Oscietra caviar. I highly recommend that each spoonful is a mix of all four ingredients, the asparagus, yolk, sabayon and caviar for textural bliss. Out of Trentino comes Barley "orzotto" with smoked trout, vervain and lemon balm. I love barley and welcome this risotto replacement, a dish that is as good as it looks! If one is passing by Emilia Romagna, one has to slurp up a good brodo and that is exactly what the next dish is, though a tad more upscale. Housemade tortellini filled with veal, peas and morels is served in an Amarena cherry and herb consommé, "brewed" at the table in a siphon. Watch the consommé take the colour of the sour cherry before it is poured onto the pasta. On a rainy day, there is nothing more comforting than a dish like this.

Mains is from the Abruzzo region and is Duck breast with potato, saffron and Monteputciano wine. The duck is slow-cooked and roasted on the skin, to make it crispy, while a concentration of the wine forms the sauce. The potato mille feuille is cooked in a saffron consommé and topped with saffron gel. From Campania, comes the palate cleanser of black lemon, anise and cucumber, which is sour and spicy. The dessert is from the snow-capped region of Puglia and is a tomato mozzarella twist. Chef Christian Marena has decided to trick diners into thinking they are eating tomato, well in fact it is a Strawberry sphere filled with an almond and coffee cream. This is served with fresh strawberry, lime and lemon and almond milk granita that resembles snow. I do recommend to get it into your mouth as soon as you can to feel the granita melt in your mouth, like snow does!

From left: Friuli Venezia Giulia; Barley orzotto with smoked trout.

Tortellini with veal, peas and morels.

Is there a better way to end meals than with liquid chocolate? At Clara, they have figured that out and serve this dessert a la carte, so it can always be added to any meal, should you choose a la carte or tasting menu. A chocolate mille feuille with hazelnut cream and salted caramel. This is served with Clara's "liquid chocolate" or chocolate liqueur made with 70% chocolate from Chanthaburi. Chef Marena uses his grandmother's liqueur recipe to make this drink. Though I rather have it slathered all over me. It is that good!

The best menu yet from chef Marena and he beamingly says that it may be because he is happy. "Finally, we can open for more months than usual. I am more at home with spring and summer produce since I am from the south of Italy. I had a lot of fun creating this menu. Italian food is always about simplicity most of the time and the idea is to give 'clean' comfort food. I have concentrated on two or three elements and tried to get as much flavour as I can, which is why the plates are more minimalistic and pure." Call 095-879-6257 or visit clarabangkok.com.

From left: Chocolate mille feuille; Amarena cherry and herb consommé.

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