Elevated Italian fare for the sophisticated palate.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
On the 4th of November, Masala and other media were invited to the grand opening of the narrative-driven cocktail bar and restaurant, Ms. Jigger. Embodying the spirit of the cosmopolitan globetrotter, the venue is named after the fictive Ms. Jigger, the peripatetic beauty from the far East who stole both hearts and inspiration wherever she roamed. The result is the urbane space in classic marble and dark wood, with a resplendent bar in pride of place and atmospheric lighting to set the mood of intrigue and adventure.
The latest F&B offering in the recently-opened Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok, the first property of the luxury boutique brand in Southeast Asia, Ms. Jigger captures what General Manager Patrick Both calls “the Kimpton commitment to…heartfelt, human connections.” We were given an intimate glimpse into the restaurant’s ardent but very human backstory during dinner, which came after guests had a chance to mingle and get to know each other over aperitifs and appetisers.
While treated to a six-course Italian feast, we were regaled with a monologue between courses by a talented actor recruited for the occasion. He took on the character of an Italian bartender, one of Ms. Jigger’s jilted dalliances who was left heartbroken in the wake of their tryst, with nothing but a jigger – a cocktail-making instrument, I learned – to remember her by. The tale painted a dramatic picture of a sophisticated femme fatale who travelled the world and came back to Thailand to start an eponymous restaurant using the techniques and ingredients she’d picked up along the way.
True to its mythical backstory, both the food and drink were inventive and used only the finest organic ingredients. The menu, crafted by Italian chef Danilo Aiassa, draws from his background in northwest Italy to create fare that’s a study in artful flavour combinations. Served in sharing portions to encourage a convivial atmosphere, the cicchettis were my favourite offerings of the night. I’d especially recommend the Peperone farcito al tonno con salsa al prezzemolo, roasted bell peppers filled with tuna meat and Italian parsley sauce; melt-in-your-mouth morsels bursting with flavour.
As anyone who’s read my other reviews would know, I always go for the truffle option, but even despite that, their Tartufata, a truffle pizza with black truffles and mascarpone cream, was a step above. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a special mention to the Ravioli ripieni di spinaci e ricotta con salsa al pomodoro picante, pesto e pinoli, their signature ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta, which was generous in both size and flavouring, and worth a trip to the restaurant alone.
We had a choice of excellent biodynamic wines to pair with our meal, as well as cocktails to add to the buzz of good spirits and engaging conversation. The list of unique tipples is printed on faux-aged parchment rolled into a glass bottle; a conceit that recalls ancient treasure maps and imbues you with a spirit of adventure – something that each cocktail offers those brave enough to venture beyond the classics.
Want something beyond the norm? I’d recommend the Feast of ferragosto, which combines amaretto and – unusually – parmesan cheese to create what I would almost describe as a liquid appetiser. If you’re looking for something with a bit more punch, the Divine proportions is your best bet, while head bartender Lorianne Spach nominated the Jewel of the orient, which contains housemade yadong and is served with a small fire show, as the drink with the most unique flavours.
Throughout the night, we were kept diverted by a talented band who gave us rousing renditions of classic tunes, but the best surprise was an impromptu performance of Whitney Houston by the Director of Sales and Marketing, Shane Jameson, whose dulcet tones were met with raucous delight. It was indeed a fitting end to the tale of Ms. Jigger who, if she were real, would have approved of the merriment, the festive atmosphere, and the touch of intrigue that brought everyone together.
Ground floor, Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok,
78 Soi Ton Son, Lumphini, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330
Open for lunch from 11.30am-2.30pm on weekends
Open for dinner from 5.30pm-12:00am from Monday to Sunday
Tel: 02 056 9999