Le Notre, G/F, Paragon, 999 Rama 1 Rd., Bangkok, Thailand
Opening Hours:daily 10am-9pm
Price Range:BB - BBB
Bangkok is not exactly nuts for Le Nôtre. The Thong Lor branch didn’t last long and their Paragon branch can be dead quiet in the evenings, closing at 9pm when After You is still mobbed by customers waiting for a table. Is a thick slab of honey toast so superior to a delicate millefeuille? Or did Le Nôtre just get lost in translation? As a dessert place, where one can sample saccharine macarons drizzled with raspberry coulis, we see how Le Nôtre can seem fussy and boring. But it also happens to have a short menu of tasty, authentic cafe food: a handful of sandwiches, soups, pastas and a burger. (The waiters also seem to have given up on Le Nôtre as a restaurant, so you may have to ask for this menu.) Executed to the standards of a fine-dining hotel restaurant, these dishes are all the more exciting because they wouldn’t be served in a fine-dining restaurant. The humble croque monsieur (B280) is the best in town: the Swiss cheese forming a perfect crust, the béchamel hardly noticeable while providing a plump moistness to the bread inside. It is served with a heap of well-seasoned salad or thick, crispy fries and a tiny salad. The attention to detail is even more impressive with the Nicoise salad (B220). It comes with a little brioche, a toasted baguette with tapenade (a black olive and anchovy paste), and a spoonful of black fish roe on top of the usual trimmings like grilled bell peppers and crunchy string beans. Even the humble “fish soup” (B220) ends up being a bouillabaisse with three small slices of baguette covered in rouille (a flavored mayonnaise)—just like they do in Marseilles. And although you’ll be given a fancy dessert menu with more coulis and elaborate platings than you can shake a spoon at (B135-205), you could simply finish things off with something relatively cheap, like an amazing coffee éclair (B75). Le Nôtre—part of the global hotel empire Accor—lacks soul. But with its small army of professional chefs and network of schools, it has patisserie and business lunches down to a science. Clearly, few are willing to spend over B500 on two dishes just to have tapenade with their salad, but we think authenticity justifies the hefty price tags.