Knock-out Italian fine dining at a price to match.
The buzz: A four-month pop-up, Waiting for Clara, acted as a prolonged drumroll for this hotly anticipated opening from powerhouse couple chef Christian Martena and Clara del Corso, formerly of Opus and Sensi.
The vibe: Taking over the cubic, white Yenakart Villa art gallery’s former digs, the venue is jaw-dropping. A perfectly manicured garden dotted with Val-style sculptures surrounds the property, complete with a lounge area from which to take it all in. The spacious interior is equally impressive, its two stories lending a minimal, warm vibe with white walls, white table linens and high ceilings, all bathed in romantic lighting designed by Matteo Messervy. Paying homage to its past life, the restaurant also serves as a backdrop to curious abstract art by local artist Somboon Hormtientong, who represented Thailand at the Venice Biennale. The upstairs mezzanine offers a cozier, more private dining experience, though we prefer the buzzy vibe downstairs. The restaurant also offers a semi-private chef’s table that overlooks the kitchen, featuring unique “tattooed” chairs by Tantai and intricate decor by P. Tendercool.
The food: Those familiar with chef Martena’s work already understand the passion he pours into his native Italian cuisine, which he injects with modern yet approachable touches. Using both European and local ingredients, he whips up two menu options: seven courses (B2,280 through Feb 10/ B2,680 after) and nine courses (B2,580 through Feb 10/ B3,080 after), both of which may shift daily depending on the availability of ingredients. Those might include the refreshing yet soothing caprese—in this case, a creamy burrata soup with tomato sorbet and crisp bread crumbs—and a punchy risotto served with black lemon and coffee. Utilizing local beef tenderloin, the wagyu is cooked to rosy perfection and served with daikon and a red wine sauce. For something lighter, you can opt for the three-course a la carte menu (B2,180 through Feb 10/ B2,480 after), which includes a starter, main and dessert.
The drinks: You can opt for additional wine pairing priced at B1,680 and B1,980, or select from the wide-ranging wine list, which includes labels from Italian wine producer Primosic. Start the night with a glass of Ferrari Maximum Brut (B380), a bubbly from Trentino, followed by the Ribolla Gialla (B400) or the Gmajne Chardonnay (B420), both from Friuli. For red wine by the glass, try the La Carraia Tizzonero (B380) from Umbria or by the bottle, go for the Banfi Chianti Classico (B1,880) from Tuscany.
Why we’d go back: Clara is heartfelt, approachable and reasonably priced, with near perfect service, an exquisite space and food that feeds the soul. Expect to hear this name often in 2020.