BANGKOK RESTAURANT

Minibar Cafe

Goodbye Minibar Royale. Hello Minibar Cafe.

The buzz: Minibar Cafe is backed by a very cool crowd of designers and restaurateurs. You saw them at work at the now-defunct Minibar Royale, which singlehandedly launched the whole New York-slash-industrial trend in Bangkok. Some of the partners are also involved in EAT (Eat All Thai), Supanniga and Somtum Der--which all have heaps of cred when it comes to Thai cuisine. Supanniga even placed in Top Tables' Top 10. Now comes this cafe, with a gorgeous design, comforting global dishes and a highly competent bartender. Sure, it's in a mall, but Central Embassy is about as nice as malls get.
 
The decor: Interior designer Kanchalee Sookawesh has stuck to some classic New York touches, such as the requisite white subway tiles. But the overall mood is much warmer and more sophisticated than the original Minibar: motifs drawn by small round tiles lend a bit of Iberian flair while modernist furniture pieces bring warm touches of wood and fabric. At the front, the elegant bar and tall windows framed in black offer an energetic setting from which to observe the mall's passers-by. In the back, a much more intimate room offers an alcove and views of Phloen Chit. Once the Park Hyatt Hotel is completed, Minibar Cafe will also be able to use part of a large terrace outside. 

The food: Minibar Cafe doesn't limit itself to one cuisine. A very Thai and rather spicy salad of cowslip creeper flowers with minced shrimps and pork (B160) happily coexists with a tres tres French prawn bisque (B180). The common thread is that it's all very simple and comforting, such as the ox tongue stew (B320), which comes with a big scoop of mashed potatoes and gravy. Not that the food is necessarily heavy, though, and there are plenty of Mediterranean flavors, such as crispy tortizzas (a kind of thin-crust pizza, B160-190) or the fish en papillote (B260), with a mix of mushrooms and zucchini in a lemon butter sauce. Desserts include some positively massive American-style cakes with heaps of icing, a tiramisu and lava cake (B250). Of course, there's a brunch menu on weekends but also some affordable set lunches from B200 on weekdays.

The drinks: We were surprised to find such a capable bartender at the helm, given the cafe's mall location. He's doing his own infused spirits, which is par for the course these days, but he's also just very good at making stiff booze-forward drinks that are balanced and smooth without being too fruity or sweet. We really like the Hoperol Flip (lager, Aperol, Tanqueray, lemon, B290), or letting him whip something up based on our preferences. Walking back out into a brightly-lit mall while slightly sloshed is a bit of a shock, though.
 
The crowd: The very elegant partners behind this place have equally chic friends. Again, Central Embassy isn't the busiest place, so bring a date or a rowdy group of friends to make your own fun.
Venue Details
Address: Minibar Cafe, 5/F, Central Embassy, 1031 Phloen Chit Rd., Bangkok, Thailand
Phone: 02-160-5610
Website: www.facebook.com/MinibarRoyale
Area: Phloen Chit
Cuisine: International
Open since: October, 2014
Opening hours: Sun-Thu 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11am-midnight
Parking available
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