Rabbit Hole's restaurant spin-off paints with the flavors of Thailand as inspired by world cuisine.
Canvas belongs to a small but headline-grabbing contingent of new Bangkok restaurants that define where Thai produce dining is at right now. Like Gaa and 80/20, it champions its devotion to local ingredients while happily straying outside any nationalistic flavor definitions. It does this with more flash and sense of occasion than just about anywhere except the big fine-dining players.
Opulence abounds in its shimmering copper bar and gloved wait staff rubbing fingerprints off glasses. Arrive and within moments every employee in the house will be addressing you by name. It’s an approach that’s as polished as the plates of food, each fawned over in immaculate detail from behind that chef’s table-style counter (our favorite place to sit, though there are some private tables as well).
Inevitably, some of the spectacle gets let down by the flavor. A salad of market vegetables (B340), for example, worthy of freezing for posterity in its beautiful appearance, loses its fresh, piquant charm under a rather slimy dressing. A dish of pigeon (B1,400) accompanied by shallot cups holding different sauces has us wishing it came with just a single good jus—as well as better rested meat. But these are quibbles.
In young, Texas-hailing chef Riley Sanders, Canvas has found a head man who’s also capable of delivering inventive dishes which pack powerful originality. His gluten-free shrimp noodles (B360) are dressed in one of the most intensely flavorful seafood sauces we’ve encountered, their kaffir lime and a gentle dose of chili providing a familiar yet totally unique local kick. The crayfish (B440), charred with heady wood-fired notes, plays a similar local-flavor card in its dressing of lime-and-basil foam. And then there’s the complimentary purple-yam bread basket that, with its dipping of pig’s lard, lemon and candied pork floss, manages to be one of the meal’s absolute high points.
Dining at Canvas will not be easy on your wallet. Their small plates (which is everything mentioned above, except for the pigeon) are the work of a few mouthfuls between two—undoubtedly pleasing, but no small cause of consternation among many diners. To avoid any sharp surprises, come expecting to pay about B3,000 a head. At that price, you’ll get a meal that stands up against most fancy fine-dining tasting menus, as well as a couple of awesome, spirit-forward cocktails (B320-400) from the team at Rabbit Hole—who happen to be the owners here, too. Corkage B1,000 (wine), B1,500 (sparkling).
This review took place in September 2017 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.