Savour a one-of-a-kind taste of la vie en rose.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
Paris may be the city of lights, but those aren’t the only bulbs it should be known for – French cuisine has always embraced a preponderance of flavour, especially from the pungent hit of garlic, chives, and onions that elevate it. The aptly-named The Allium Bangkok, on the 3rd floor of The Athenee Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, celebrates both flavour and French chic to give guests a one-of-a-kind taste of la vie en rose.
Flanked by carmine doors of magnificent proportions, The Allium isn’t what I initially expected when entering a French restaurant known for its haute cuisine. After extensive renovations, the restaurant debuted its fresh look in September of last year, a more avant-garde take on the iconic French bistro experience. Instead of a softer approach to its ambience, it embraces the intensity of its colour scheme, filling the space with towering panels of red framed by pristine white walls; a bid to stimulate your other senses on top of your palate.
Contemporary features such as an open kitchen, end-to-end glass windows, and modern light fixtures add edge to the sumptuous furnishings and intimate nooks and crannies. I found the soft glow of red light especially intriguing; a modish conceit that I hadn’t seen in many restaurants, but made elegant by the vaulted ceilings and clever interior design.
FOOD AND DRINK
My initial evaluation of The Allium’s dishes is that they were intelligently curated; socially conscious with a wealth of local organic ingredients, many of which were grown in the restaurant’s own in-house herb garden; and so beautiful I almost didn’t want to ruin the perfection of their presentation by eating them. Created by Chef Roxanne Lange, who I was thrilled to discover is one of Marriott International’s youngest female chefs, the set menus offer a range of experiences for each guest.
From their ‘Seasons’ set (starting from THB 2480 per person), a lighter option that walks you through the tastes and essence of the Thai tropics; to the abundant ‘Memories’ set (starting from THB 3280 per person) which adds richer dishes that include a rack of Spanish Pyrenees Iberico lamb, the options are generous and manifold. Although the non-vegetarian sets feature premium European seafood ingredients bursting with flavour, the ‘Plant Based’ set (starting from THB 1800 per person) was my personal favourite, as I felt it was where that the chef’s innovation and skill truly shone. Although these sets are offered for dinner, à la carte options of some of the plant-based and non-vegetarian dishes are available for guests who want a meal of less lavish proportions.
We tried the ‘Memories’ and the ‘Plant Based’ set, both with their own unique offerings to lead your palate on a curated culinary journey. At the start of your meal, you’re served with crisp, homemade, rosemary sourdough bread and butter, the latter with a punch of lemon we loved, as it started our meal off on a zesty note. The seafood appetiser, Cocollos oyster & oscietra caviar (THB 380), is served on a bed of gleaming black pebbles so the dish stands out, aptly like pearls of flavour within the oyster shell. Briny and smooth, it both whets and wets your palate, leaving you craving more, while the veg alternative, Grilled zucchini & fennel, is an exquisitely textural mouthful. The hors d’oeuvre is only the opening act for the next course, however, the Chiang Mai tomato salad (THB 480), which, despite its prosaic name, was anything but commonplace. One of my favourite dishes of the night, it features tomatoes prepared in at least a half-dozen different ways, far more than I thought could be done with the humble tomato. Make sure you crack open the tomato sphere, which releases a soup that elevates the toothsome dish.
The entrées were a study in flavours, seasoning, and winsome presentation, with the non-veg options including the curiously refreshing Thai mud crab & cucumber (THB 520); the Red snapper, sun choke & chorizo (THB 600),flaky and delightful in a bed of effervescent foam; and my favourite of the seafood options, the Hokkaido scallop & pumpkin (THB 650), the creaminess of the latter perfectly offsetting the saltiness of the former. Vegetarians will delight in the textural and fairy-garden-like Sun choke and bell pepper (THB 450) and the delicate Cucumber and celery (THB 300).
For our mains, we were served French moulard duck liver & apple, a classic of French cuisine; the self-indulgent Spanish Pyrenees Iberico lamb rack & green asparagus (THB 980), cooked perfectly tender and falling off the bone;as well as the Green asparagus & potato (THB 700) that melts in your mouth. I especially recommend, however, the decadently rich and creamy Roasted cauliflower and truffle (THB 700).
A course of Organically made young Chiang Mai goat’s cheese (THB 550) perfectly cuts across your palate and readies you for the wealth of desserts: a Pineapple and lime trifle with a new flavour to discover in each layer, a refreshing concoction of Calamansi from our garden with Madagascar vanilla (THB 450) and finally, Milk & organic honey & hazelnut (THB 450) to end your meal with a cool crunch. If your sweet tooth isn’t sated yet, however, I would recommend ordering the Signature tasting dessert set, which features a range of bite-sized treats; the perfect bookmark to your meal – from bon appétitto bonbon appétit.
Sommelier pairings from their array of over 200 wine labels are available for each set (starting from THB 1500 per person), but I would also recommend you try their signature cocktails, from the intriguing butterfly-pea-infused Butterfly Dance (THB 350) to the Spring temptation (THB 350), which packs a tart punch with its apricot brandy.
The Pumpkin and yellow curry (THB 400), our unequivocal favourite which was so full of flavour we would have been happy to eat an entire meal composed of the dish.For drinks, don’t miss out on their signature Athenee Hugo (THB 350), which combines refreshing citrus with lemongrass and sparkling wine for a one-of-a-kind tipple to tickle your senses.
The Allium Bangkok
Third floor, The Athenee Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel
61 Wireless Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Tel: 02 650 8800 ext.4338
Facebook and Instagram: @thealliumbangkok