Fondue House, 25/4 Phahon Yothin Soi 9, Bangkok, Thailand
Nearest Train:BTS Ari
Opening Hours:daily 11am-2pm, 6-11pm
Fondue House is charming and nails its namesake dish. But there’s still a lot you’ll need to overlook (or avoid) if you’re going to dine here. First, the good news. The restaurant occupies the ground floor of a stately villa with a pool. Staff dressed like bellboys welcome you into a fairy tale European interior: parquet floors, stained glass windows, clocks that chime on the hour and a pale blue wallpaper that could be 40 years old. (Actually, Fondue House is that old but only moved to its present location a couple of years ago.) First impressions don’t last long, though. The place needs much better ventilation given that they’re in the business of deep-frying beef in vats of oil; tablecloths have oil and burn marks; and dishes are served Thai-style, meaning whenever the kitchen finishes them. More troublesome is that they seem to have taken it upon themselves to jazz up the traditional French flavor profile, which might be a bit flat for local palates, without making it any lighter. Escargots (snails, B320 for six), come in a sour and herbal cream rather than the sacrosanct butter-parsley-garlic trinity. The result is just as rich, only it tastes plain weird (and the snails are tiny). Their signature steak flambé suffers from the exact same problem—an oddly sour layer of sauce on subpar meat. On our last visit we tried the “imported” beef (B600), but it could have been just about anything, or from anywhere, as it had been tenderized to the point where it bordered on minced. A lot less extravagant, the lobster bisque (B150) had almost no lobster flavor and had clearly received the help of an unpleasantly gelatinous texture agent. Here’s our recommendation: just get a Swiss cheese fondue (B600) followed by a chocolate fondue (B300). The cheese is peppery, with a nice white wine flavor—and they don’t cut it with starch. As for the chocolate fondue, it’s bitter and rich and not too sweet (we’d have liked more than five strawberries, though). You could also go for crepes Suzette (B320), whose sauce rivals those served at most five-star hotel brunches, but have a gooey, noodle-like consistency. Fondue House’s grand piano is now only used on occasion, mostly picking up dust. It, and the families presided over by the big hair aunties who dine here, seem to be fitting symbols for Fondue House: something outdated, quaint but strangely comforting.