Wine Connection bistros have now spread so much across Bangkok that we can’t keep up with them. But this latest one, The Grill, is different. The go-to brand for a cheap steak and platter of antipasti has this time attempted to go slightly upscale, buying in on the dry-aged meat, grill specialist trend.
Prices, though, remain firmly down to earth: a bone-in, near-1kg rib-eye tomahawk will cost you just B1,890, while wines that start at B599 a bottle remain practically unbeatable. Visit on a Friday night and you will also find the restaurant heaving. During our last visit, four tables worth of people stood outside, serenaded by an acoustic jazz trio playing bossanova Bob Marley as they awaited entry into the restaurant’s temple of dangling bulbs, orange brickwork and riveted black steel. And we don’t blame them.
A ravioli of spinach and mozzarella (B210) sums up this place well: efficient, global bistro food designed to attract bums on seats rather than critical plaudits. The tomato-based sauce tastes sharp and moreish, the pasta well-cooked, the stuffing plentiful enough—a definite step up from the usual Wine Connection offering. It’s a similar story with the special of Spanish mussels (B260). Of course you don’t get the taste-of-the-seaside hit of a mussel scraped from the rock not five hours before, but they’re plump and sweet and swimming in a salty, paprika-rich broth that makes you want to dunk things in it. Dessert, again, is no let-down: the lime pie (B90) might have sweaty pastry, but the taste is nonetheless a sharp, sweet hit of sugar.
We’d be happy to take back any a bad word said about Wine Connection and call The Grill a triumph. Sadly, though, their big-ticket item—the steak—is a disappointment. Sure, we went for the cheap cut—a 280g Australian grain-fed sirloin for B790—but it didn’t need to be shorn of the lovely rind of flavor dispensing fat which the word sirloin promises. Without it, there’s not much happening in this one-dimensional hunk of meat. We also don’t taste any benefit from the restaurant’s much-talked-about in-house dry-aging treatment.
The Grill can deliver a great meal—tasty, friendly on the wallet, filling and served to your table by fawning staff with beaming smiles. But you’re after the tangy, well-matured, mineral-rich juicy hit of a good steak, you might be disappointed.
This review took place in June 2016 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.