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The buzz: Each of Ashley Sutton’s venues (Iron Fairies, Fat Gut’z, Mr. Jones’ Orphanage) has a very distinct atmosphere. But they all have a comic book quality; like grown-up playgrounds with the aftertaste of childhood adventures. His latest venture evokes colonial outposts, the Pax Britannica of Queen Victoria, the decadence of opium or gambling dens, steamy exoticism and steaming noodles, James Bond movies and gentlemen’s clubs.
The décor: Step past the goons and the dark wooden doors and down a steep staircase. We’re not quite there yet, as this first room is a noodle shop that ensnares the senses with the smell of cooking and an abundance of textures: jade-colored tiles, intricately sculpted wood and Chinese paper umbrellas. Past another set of door, the bar is a vast, dark room dotted with button-tufted leather couches and upholstered swings carrying blasé-looking ladies dressed in embroidered cheongsams. At its center, the bar itself is made to look like an old-school casino cashier counter. Sutton has also accumulated an impressive amount of details that give the place its soul, from the brick vaults with heavy steel doors (which serve as private rooms), to oil paintings of sailing ships and busts of Queen Victoria. And should you hear whispers of secret passageways behind the walls, secret poker rooms or two-way mirrors—know that it's all true.
The drinks: Sutton continues his now long-standing collaboration with Joseph Boroski to deliver a cocktail menu with which regulars at their other bars should now be familiar. In general, there’s plenty of sweetness, fruit and aroma. The HMS Leviathan (B340), for example, combines honey syrup, bourbon infused with honeycomb, sweet vermouth and a twist of lemon. Otherwise, prices start from B2,000 for bubbles (Chandon Brut), B300 for wine by the glass (all two of them, bottles B1,500-6,950), B165 for your typical beers from Singha to Asahi and Beerlao Dark (Vedett, Corona B250 and Kriek Cherry, B210). Whiskey starts from B240 for a glass of Jameson and goes all the way up to B55,000 for Johnnie Walker & Sons Odyssey. That noodle shop out front is not just for show, either. The short menu offers a choice of bamee moo deang (egg noodles topped with pork, B99), bamee moo krob (egg noodle topped with crispy pork, B99) and bamee na ped (rice topped with grilled duck, B129), and you can also change the bamee to be rice for the same price.
The crowd: We visited on the bar’s opening day, so only time will tell who the regulars will be, here. It’s not exactly a neighborhood with a resident party crowd, so it might either welcome tourists from the riverside hotels or Silom executives wanting a drink after work.
Why you’ll come back: We don’t think we’ve seen so much effort put into a bar’s décor since Iron Fairies. And a few repeat visits will definitely be needed to take it all in. Gregoire Glachant
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More bad news for local media.
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