As far as themed restaurants go, Alice’s Rustic Seafood is stylishly subdued. The Wonderland allusions of the name only present themselves in the playful presentation of a few dishes and some decorative touches that do little to clutter the airy, industrial space.
The menu, a refreshing single-page affair (two-sided, though), is hardly dedicated to seafood, even if locally-sourced seabass, shrimp and shellfish figure prominently. Chef Skanda Manibhandu spent considerable time training and working in Australia, and it shows in the clean, understated setting, and the continent-hopping nature of the food: burgers, pastas, pizzas, salads.
If this also sounds like your ubiquitous, mid-range Thai bistro, you needn’t worry. Better than most, chef Skanda’s dishes let the natural flavors of fresh ingredients shine, as evident in the fish tacos with fennel and apple remoulade (B300) with their large, full chunks of juicy seabass with the crispy skin left on. The sweet remoulade can be balanced out with a few splashes of Thaibasco hot sauce, the result being a simple, light take on a dish that’s often a stodgy mess.
The poached black mussels and smoked eggplant salad (B260) comes with nice big pieces of fennel and mint that blend well with a sweet, nutty dressing that recalls yum tua pu (wingbean salad). There are many Thai touches throughout the menu, but these tend to be subtle rather than showy. The pizza with pork sausage and nam prik ong (B320) basically tastes like one really satisfying spicy sausage pie. Made using a big clay oven that sits in one corner, the pizza’s base is soft and springy yet firm and crunchy, more than making up for the slightly sparse topping. Better yet is the version with portabello mushroom, chili and water mimosa (B360)—spicy and yet oddly refreshing. Like much of the menu, it’s a lighter version of comfort food.
Desserts such as lemon tart with a dense Kit Kat sauce (B120) and Alice’s Garden (B200), an Eton mess made to resemble a fantasy garden with chocolate soil and colorful berries, keep up the light, zesty theme. Craft beers, Raitong Organics Farm’s Ginger Fizz (B100), cocktails starting at B195, and lunch deals (salad, soup, pasta and drink, B290) add to Alice’s Rustic Seafood’s low-key allure. It all deserves a better setting than Ekkamai’s deserted, perpetually halffinished QISS mall.