Water Library Brasserie
Without being all that expensive, this Water Library restaurant operates at a very high level of execution.
Water Library Brasserie treads the fine line between “haute cuisine” and simple French brasserie by giving diners great value for money. French flourishes abound, concentrated on signature dishes such as the salade Nicoise, beef tartare and duck confit. Glassware and wooden bookshelves augment the dining area, giving the restaurant a "Jules Verne” feel. The restaurant also plays the lovable Water Library card of selling wine at retail prices.
Water Library is a group of restaurants, most of which do excellent French cuisine, have dramatic, slightly industrial decors and are located in malls. (They also own the Chinese Hong Bao restaurants, which are obviously very different.) This particular branch is dubbed Water Library Brasserie and, indeed, the food here is that little bit more Gallic, with dishes such as salade Nicoise (B410) and duck confit (B690), or even specials like the cassoulet (B380), the ultimate Toulousain comfort food. Without being all that expensive, Water Library operates at a very high level of execution, making it perhaps the best bang for your buck you can get in this town. For B990, you get a three-course menu that’s not exactly generous with portion sizes, but tastes like something you’d be happy to have even when in France (particularly for 20 euros). Their service always gets us, too: as confident, on-the-ball and informed as a five-star hotel’s, without the weird frozen smile. This B990 deal is no degustation menu, though, and you’ll have to go à la carte for the highlights, such as the wagyu steak tartare (B490). It’s a bit heavy on the dressing, which manages to overpower the raw meat, but is otherwise beautifully presented and includes thin slices of crispy ciabatta for a bit of texture. We aren’t entirely happy with the grilled tiger prawns (B550), either. The sauce, which uses the fat in the prawn’s heads, is pretty amazing. And we do like our prawns bordering on raw but, on our last visit, they were downright raw. Still, while Water Library Brasserie isn’t quite Le Beaulieu, it costs a fraction of the price. The creamy mushroom soup, for example, is lovely, but you weren’t expecting porcini in a menu costing one grand, were you? The flavor ends up being a bit light, and the milk cream almost too present. Big and bold seems to be a safer bet here: the onion soup (B290), the wagyu steak with its beautiful wedge fries (B1,290), the tender, perfectly cooked lamb (B890). Thanks to occasional creative touches like a bed of jicama (Mexican turnip) purée or foie gras oil, some of these dishes come pretty darn close to perfection. Case in point: the tarte tatin (B380), which is possibly the best in Bangkok, with a truly decadent, buttery crust and apples with just the right balance of natural acidity and sweet caramel. As is customary for Water Library venues, you get good deals on wine, too (they import it themselves), with plenty of solid options under the B2,000 mark. The decor is kind of fun in a steampunk, Eiffel tower kind of way, but it does look like a poorly finished version of something Ashley Sutton (Iron Fairies, Maggie Choo’s) might have done. Add a mall location to the mix and it’s hard to unconditionally love the place—and its occasional misfires—quite as much as we’d like to.
|Address:||Water Library Brasserie, 5/F, Central Embassy, 1031 Phloen Chit, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Price Range:||BB - BBBB|
|Opening hours:||daily 10am-9pm|
|Parking available, Dress requirements|
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