After parting ways with Rocket, Siwilai goes it alone with new cafe.
Attached to Central Embassy mall’s cool if under-patronized Siwilai boutique, this cafe is one of the more interesting players on Bangkok’s brunch scene. The space, which for two years operated as a branch of Rocket cafe, is a grown-up blend of blond wood, marble and dappled natural light that could well be Melbourne or Stockholm. When the weather’s fine, however, you’ll find the best seats out on the terrace with its rare downtown views of greenery courtesy of the British Embassy and Nai Lert Park.
Chef Blair Matheson (formerly of Quince) is behind the breakfast-heavy menu that sees the likes of eggs Benedict spruced up with a Sriracha Hollandaise sauce (B350) and jok (Thai-style rice porridge, B210) benefit from hunks of chashu-like pork belly. As tasty as those dishes are, we’d opt for the grilled brioche topped with a huge mound of sauteed chicken liver, mushroom, bacon and onion jam (B280)—a delicious coming together of sweet and savory.
Away from the AM headliners, the chicken schnitzel (B420) is a lightly breaded, almost delicate treatment of a pub-grub standard. The addition of anchovies, capers and sour cream give the dish the sharp kick its dull sauerkraut fails to deliver. Freshness abounds in the cured salmon salad (B350) with its plentiful beets, shards of green apple and artful dollops of dill creme fraiche, though carb-counters should beware the hidden cuts of fried potato not mentioned on the menu. Everyone else should definitely plump for a serving of the extra-crisp shoestring fries (B180), which are excellent.
Daytime is clearly when the cafe is at its busiest, whether it’s with pretty people in their weekend livery or work groups gathering for brainstorming sessions, but the later hours are served by some quality fruit-forward cocktails designed by the team behind Sugar Ray speakeasy. Re-charge (B270) is an all-too-smooth mix that masks its gin behind melon, cucumber and vanilla, while there’s also an equally easygoing selection of “Thai-style” gin tonics highlighting local ingredients (from B250).
While Central Embassy’s shiny Apr 2017 openings Open House and Siwilai City Club have taken away some of Siwilai Cafe’s lustre (and clientele), this remains an above-average spot for brunch and beyond.