This elegant blend of gentlemen’s club and European bistro looks to appeal to serious cocktail drinkers.
Vesper goes for an elegant, if rather predictable, chic European bistro look (think Hyde & Seek before the refit): dark wood, marble table tops, old maps and brick wall painted black. Founded by couple Chotipong Leenutapong and Debby Tang, who are also partners of Little Beast and Il Fumo, Vesper’s kitchen is headed by Chef Luca Appino of beloved Italian restaurant La Bottega di Luca (Sukhumvit Soi 49) and Pizza Massilia (Soi Ruamrudee). But before we get to the food, Vesper owes its name to a drink that James Bond devises and christens in Casino Royale. Indeed, Vesper was the first, and is still the only, cool place to grab a drink after work in what quickly transforms into a red light district come nightfall. Its cocktail list was inaugurated by a Dutchman with London-based mixologists Fluid Movement and the results were spectacular. On our last visit, we felt standards had slipped, though, as half the team has been sent off to Il Fumo. The good news is that the shrieking mega-tables of hi-sos seem to have followed. What remains is a much more civilized experience where Appino’s food finally gets the spotlight. To start with, the produce is lovely, so that simple dishes like the plate of parma ham with a giant ball of burrata cheese (B1,390 for 350 grams) or the locally-sourced Sloane’s chorizo with wild rocket (B390) feel immensely satisfying. The fileja pasta filled with five spices duck ragu (B380) offers an almost chewy texture beneath a generous layer of sliced Parmesan cheese. But for something more refined, the ravioli filled with burrata (B620) manages to feel fresh and light thanks to the Datterino tomatoes and Taggiasca olives. Mains are equally good. The wagyu beef (B470/100g for ribeye and B420/100g for tomahawk) is juicy, salty and fatty with a beautifully charred exterior. And even fish packs big flavors here, such as in the sea bass baked in a crunchy bread crust with an almost confit blend of cherry tomatoes, onions and black olives (B890). We do recommend you skip the signature drinks and just order a six-week barrel-aged Negroni (B380). Yes, Appino is keeping things a bit safe. But this is a bistro, not a fine-dining restaurant. With a solid wine list (even if years need updating), much of it between B2,000-4,000, and diligent staff, Vesper feels right for just about any occasion, save those where foodies seek to have their expectations redefined.