Everyone wants a change from time to time – especially locals and expats who are living in Bangkok, rather than just travelling through – and the capital has a top lineup of international restaurants in addition to the winning Thai cuisine it’s famed for. These are some of our favourite spots for international dining.
This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant occupies a charming shophouse in Bangkok’s old town district and has a cult following for its perfect blend of relaxed and informal yet classy dining without losing sight of simply great cooking. Its rotating menu follows the seasons and wins fans over for the strong, inventive drinks as much as it does the innovative food. Seven Spoons is consistently ranked among Bangkok’s best restaurants, and yet its modest prices – certainly for the quality produce and the flawless execution of its dishes – mean it doesn’t have to break the bank. Tempting choices on its current dinner menu include pan-seared white snapper with lavender cream sauce and pistachios, filet mignon with melted gorgonzola cheese and lingonberry sauce, and barley pilaf stuffed eggplant and buffalo mozzarella, while lunchtimes are a lighter affair with a focus on the likes of salads and sandwiches.
Cocktails include classics like the old fashioned and mojito, and less-than-classics such as the Silver Spoon (Martini bianco, spiced rum, lime wedges and galangal), Miss Casablanca (dark rum, cardamom, Malibu, pineapple juice and sours) and Asian Memoirs (Rose-infused vodka, lychee liqueur, bitters and grapefruit juice). Seven Spoons is owned by a group of five friends and is the sort of place where it is obvious, between the inviting décor, attentive service and attention to detail in the food’s provenance and delivery, that it is run for love.
Lunch 11am-3pm, dinner 6-10.30pm, drinks 6-11.30pm; no lunch on Sundays and no evening service on Mondays; 22-24 Chakkrapatipong Road, Phra Nakhon; 02-629-9214; www.sevenspoonsbkk.com.
International fare needn’t be expensive, and that’s certainly not the case at comfort café Chomp, where owner Gili admits she operates on low margins – but that seems to be working. Chomp, another old-town joint and within walking distance of backpacker enclave Khaosan Road (and yet just far away enough to have a modicum more sophistication, with its stripped-back, semi-industrial décor), is an all-day affair, open from morning to night for breakfast, excellent coffee, cake, midday sandwiches and salads, to a more substantial evening meal from the extensive and affordable menu of steaks and burgers – don’t miss the enormous 3BB burger, with two generous patties plus bacon. onion rings and a homemade bun.
Non-meat-eaters will love the heavy focus on vegetarian and vegan dishes, while families are also very welcome and the menu dedicates a good couple of pages to nutritious, handmade baby food. Chomp aims to be a community hub, and plays host to everything from book launches to art exhibitions, mini concerts, and yoga classes. It’s a friendly spot where customers quickly become regulars and then friends, and its atmosphere is perfect for either a catch-up with friends or a more romantic soirée.
Daily, 8am-11pm; Samsen Soi 1, Phra Nakhon; 084-098-8633; www.chompcafe.wordpress.com.
The unapologetic focus at this recent opening on Surawong Road, running parallel to Silom and reached by nipping through Patpong market or Soi Thaniya, is on unadultered American comfort food. The converted shophouse has the bar and a few tables downstairs, and a couple more on the quieter duplex, while the owners appear to still be kitting out the upper floors in order to extend further. It seems to be called for – The Smokin’ Pug is regularly full, and it’s worth calling ahead to book a table if you want more than drinks. In terms of food, think plenty of tacos, pulled pork sandwiches and huge (literally enormous) racks of ribs – with special mention for the house sauces, including Kansas City and North Carolina – that sit in squeezy bottles on the tables, in a nod to the no-frills, roll-your-sleeves-up kind of attitude that rules here.
Drinks offer similarly generous pours – try the old fashioned, though we’ve also got a soft spot for the Dana’s Choice, one of two named after the American couple who own this and the original Smokin’ Pug in China. The two of them are what make this place what it is – whether they’re pouring cocktails, handing out free crisps, or generously and sneakily topping up patrons’ wine glasses in the sort of way that makes you really feel at home, and adds to the charm of the whole place.
Tuesday to Sunday, 5pm-midnight; 88 Surawong Road (BTS Sala Daeng/MRT Si Lom); 083-029-7598; www.facebook.com/smokinpug.
Where is your favourite international restaurant in Bangkok? Let us know in the comments!
Seven Spoons photo by Seven Spoons; other photos by Chris Wotton.