Café Claire, Oriental Residence, 110 Wireless Rd., Bangkok, Thailand
Nearest Train:BTS Phloen Chit
Opening Hours:daily 6am-10:30pm
Price Range:BBB - BBBB
Open Since:January, 2012
Set in the luxurious Oriental Residence on Wittayu Rd., right next to the US Embassy’s leafy compound, Café Claire serves simple bistro food in an elegant space that makes generous use of marble and black leather. It’s definitely Bangkok’s most handsome attempt at a classic brasserie, something that hasn’t been lost on the similarly beautiful young hisos that populate it. Unfortunately, the food isn’t quite as inspiring. The short one-page menu is carefully crafted with a tight list of all-day dining favorites that range from a simple steak, to waffles, fresh oysters (B1,150 for a dozen) and salads. The lighter dishes tend to fair pretty well, whether it’s the tangy yam nuea yang (grilled wagyu flank steak in spicy salad, B210) or the creamy (if slightly oily) Maryland-style crab cakes served with a dollop of avocado salsa (B210). But the vast majority of Café Claire’s mains are deeply flawed in some way or another. At B950 with no sides, you’d expect the grain-fed entrecote to amount to more than some chewy local cow—and that they’d cook it the way you ordered it. The eggs benedict (B280), a classic Sunday pick for this kind of place, are served on some of the saddest, most floury, industrially-processed-tasting “English breakfast muffins” we’ve ever encountered. And desserts (B220) clearly need an overhaul from the chefs at that other Oriental down by the river. The pink lady apple tart’s chunks of fruit were practically raw on our last visit, while the crust had somehow managed to disintegrate into a messy mush. Saccharine and gooey, the crepe suzette is similarly disappointing. If a splash of Grand Marnier or freshly pressed orange juice is used in its making, we’ll be damned. We’d be more forgiving of Café Claire’s lack of substance if the plus plus prices didn’t add up so quickly and imported Vittel at B150 wasn’t the only available water. Given the bill you’ll rack up here, we’d much rather eat twice at Café Tartine in the parallel soi. Granted, good looks and the ability to fix a proper bloody Mary (B220) are important qualities, but actual cooking skills still go a long way. Corkage B800 for wine only.