The décor: A rare combination of industrial and nostalgia in a long, high-ceilinged room with glass on three sides and a corrugated metal bar and sushi station on the fourth. We’re told that a great deal of painstaking research and diligent eBaying went into getting the décor together here, and it shows. The mixed and matched retro chairs are a combination of metal ones from the 30s, aluminum ones from the 40s and even 60s German university chairs. The result is more chic than shabby, making this a sweet date spot. The food: The menu by Pla Dib obviously involves a lot of raw fish with artful, modern presentations, like their seafood ceviche (B350) and the avocado and pomelo canapé studded with lots of roe (B180). We also like the modern gastro touches, such as the plate of raw tuna which comes topped with a strong lime foam (B250). It’s not all seafood, though. The bestselling appetizer is deep-fried lotus root chips (B100), and they also do a grilled duck breast salad with bits of marmalade (B180). The modern gastro extends to the meaty main courses, such as the pork belly with apple salad (B250) which is finished sous-vide. The drinks: A wine list divided into Good, Better and Best. Six wines by the glass (B240-290), including, of course, PB Valley Reserve. They also do basic cocktails like margaritas and caipirinhas (B280). The crowd: The young and fancy of northern Bangkok. Mrigaa Sethi Corkage B1,000.
When it first opened, the Singha-Pla Dib pedigree, the sexy iron and steel greenhouse space and the original Japanese-leaning menu were all feathers in the eatery’s cap. But over six months after their opening, we’re sad to say that Wine 33 has become a cautionary tale about restaurants that do not hold fast to their vision. To accommodate the crowds, the outdoor seating at Wine 33 has swelled considerably, now being simultaneously serenaded by the same cover bands as Est. 33 a few feet away. Plus it has none of the same ambience and décor as the inside, and discerning diners will find paying the same prices for both a big letdown. Wine 33 is trying (or once was trying) to serve a slightly upscale dining experience, judging by recipes like grilled black miso snowfish with pea sauce (B380). But these creative dishes are undermined by poor service, both inside and outside the kitchen. Perhaps because of the sub-Arctic temperatures in the dining room, which also contains the open kitchen, the food tends to arrive lukewarm at best. We can live with underwhelming B100 crispy lotus root chips, but at B700, less-than-hot hokube tenderloin with “Pla Dib butter” is far less forgivable. To top it off, Wine 33 seems to no longer bother with the order in which the dishes come out, and on our last visit, started us with a main that came before the place settings. At these prices, it really ticks us off. And while Est. 33 was pushing the envelope with its selection of microbrews, Wine 33’s commitment to wine is laughable: although by Chapoutier and quite nice, they serve a mere two wines by the glass (B280)—it used to be six when they first opened. But we’re clearly alone in our lamentations: Wine 33 is quite busy on most nights (though, notably, not overrun the way Est. 33 and Wine I Love You are). But while there are dishes we still love, like the white asparagus with pork belly strip (B160) and the raw tuna with lime foam (B250), we’re really disappointed overall and a bit sad (we liked the concept), and we will no longer be hiking out to eat at Wine 33.
The buzz: Perpendicular to Est. 33, Singha’s microbrewery and bar, is Wine 33, their second building at Crystal Design Center. This one emphasizes wine, some of it from the booze conglomerate’s very own PB Valley in Khao Yai. Sounds like a recipe for not-too-thinly veiled monopolizing, but we’re happy to report that Wine 33 functions well as a standalone restaurant, thanks to the partnership with Pla Dib (a restaurant in Soi Aree), which supplies a menu of Japanese fusion to go with your choice of wine, all in a faux-retro glass house.
|Address:||Wine 33, Crystal Design Center, 1420/1 Praditmanoontham Rd., Bangkok, Thailand|
|Price Range:||BBB - BBBB|
|Opening hours:||daily 5pm-12:30am|
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