The buzz: Checkmate Bar & Bistro stands alone, right beside the Chaophraya River, as part of the recently-opened boutique mall Asiatique the Riverfront. Running with the idea that chess is a leisurely way to unwind, the black n’ white-themed bar strives to be a laidback after-work (or post-shopping) destination that doesn’t require you ditch your grey matter entirely.
The décor: Asiatique is all about rekindling the spirit of old Bangkok with its large warehouses and small alleyways, and this bar evokes bygone times with its bare brick exterior and industrial touches, which lend it an ever-so-slight loft-feel. Needless to say, the décor is largely chess-related, exemplified by the black n’ white checkered wallpaper. The main room is moodily lit with a sizable bar displaying a solid array of liquor to one side, a few sofas to the other, and low dining tables facing a stage down the middle. If you’re after a little breeze off the river, there’s limited outdoor seating, but we were told that this will be expanded once construction of the restaurant next door has finished.
The music: They say “cute Thai and International popsanova covers complement the meal,” but we’ll let you make up your own mind on that one. There are two live bands per day with the first starting up at 7pm.
The crowd: The pretty young things from the neighboring offices congregating for after-work drinks are replaced by families gathering for dinner come the weekend.
The price: Fairly typical; there’s Stella, Hoegaarden, Leffe and Weihenstephan on tap (B240/pint and B120/ half pint). For now, they’re only serving cocktails of the classic variety, like Midori Sour, Mai Tai, Mojito and Long Island Iced Tea (start from B200), but the owner says they’ll be adding some creative signatures soon. White, red and sparkling wine is available, too; from B950-1,400. The food menu throws up some pretty spicy fusion appetizers and mains; try some beer buddies like Checkmate Hors d’Oeuvres (mixed grilled sausages, bacon and fries, B280) and deep fried mushroom with soy sauce (B140), or get more serious with the salmon sashimi salad with spicy dressing (B200), fried rice with nam prik and crispy seabass (B180) and spaghetti with nam prik ong (Northern style nam prik with tomato base, B220).
Why you’ll come back: Checkmate is good for an after-work dine and drink given the lack of choices in lower Charoenkrung, but it’s also a decent option for a breather after a solid few hours shopping at Asaitique on the weekend. Vasachol Quadri