The mastermind behind Phuket’s Bamphot Kitchen brings modern British cuisine to Bangkok.
It’s not every day you see a successful Phuket restaurateur expanding his empire to Bangkok. Then again, not every Phuket restaurateur is Jamie Wakeford. The fast-rising culinary figure was a stagiaire at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and Gordon Ramsay’s Maze in the U.K. before masterminding Cherngtalay’s Bampot Kitchen & Bar. Now he is bringing a modern British bent to Suan Phlu.
Modern British, for those stuck on the term, is the metaphoric equivalent of “new American” or “contemporary Australian”—a catch-all that boils down to the chef using fresh, predominantly local produce and drawing heavily on foreign influences to reinterpret classic Western dishes.
Here modern British means a decadent blue crab tart with shaved apple and dill (B400) and sautéed wild Thai mushrooms (B130) served in a space that straddles the line between upscale-casual date-night venue and let-your-hair-down, after-work haunt. On our last visit, the crowd featured young couples, mom-and-daughter duos and singles mingling at the centerpiece bar in the downstairs dining room, while the soundtrack flitted from A Tribe Called Quest to The Strokes. It’s cool, alright, and the ocean-blue banquettes offsetting marble tile floors and grayscale artwork do nothing to diminish the effect. The food, mercifully, complements this vibe.
Local ingredients form the backbone of seasonally-rotating sharing plates. Take, for instance, Thai camembert cheese served with honey-like fig jam and thin, toasted rye bread (B200), or the BBQ trevally kingfish (B550)—a firm whitefish, tailor-made for the open flame. Its flavor won’t blow you away, but the sous-vide egg yolk-speckled potato salad it’s served with provides some pop. Just don’t expect this to stay on the menu forever—the fish selection changes pending availability. Braised beef cheek served atop Thai blue cheese polenta (B600), meanwhile, offers a heftier portion. Unfortunately, that polenta has a texture like crunchy peanut butter and an in-your-face saltiness that leaves you reaching for a glass of house water (B30—including bottomless refills).
That slip-up aside, it’s hard to fault what’s coming out of the kitchen. Or the bar, for that matter. Boasting equally strong cocktail and culinary games, Olta is a rarity in these parts. Cocktails like the Cucumber Fizz (Old Tom gin, elderflower, cucumber and tonic, B350) and the Suan Phlu Mule (vodka, honey, ginger, apricot and bitters, B350) are dangerously easy-drinking. Altogether, Olta is the kind of place you might find yourself returning to time and again without even realizing it.