Monday, 23 May 2011

La Tavola: Top Italian food restaurant in Bangkok Thailand

Ever noticed how things seem much more exotic when named in a foreign language?

Not cosy but cool anyway ...
La Tavola restaurant at the Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong is a a great example of that. La Tavola simply means 'the table' in Italian. Which makes me wonder why they didn't name it The Chair, or The Chef's Moustache or The Giant Phallic Peppercorn Grinder?

Anyway, the name is not important ... but the food is.

We left it up to the chef to recommend. So out comes the chef ... no moustache at all (unlike many Italians, and even some of their menfolk too) and surprisingly young -- looking a bit like Billy Joel wearing a David Beckham wig.

What a display of top Italian food: my saliva is beginning to run inelegantly at the memory of the meal.

Antipasto to start with, and a red wine that slipped down ever so warmly with it, recommended by the Thai major domo who talked us ever so knowledgeably through the wine list. 'You find the Italian red a little sour, don't you?' she said as my face contorted like a school kid running amok in the Hall of Crazy Mirrors. How do the Italians manage to squeeze so many lemons into one bottle? 'Try the Australian one, ' she wisely suggested.

The attention and people skills made for a seamless experience at what had me thinking: is this the best restaurant in Bangkok? (But I get like that after a few reds -- even at Burger King once!)

Then came the mains. Tenderloin with spinach, truffle sauce and foie gras. While we're at it, there's another word that sounds so fancy and exotic in a foreign language, but just little less delicious when you translate it into English: goose fat!

Moments later the tour bus arrived and it was full ...
For the tenderloin, Billy Beckham (or was it David Joel?) suggested 'less than medium ... pink in the middle but not too pink.' Now where have I heard that before?

My companion enjoyed a seafood cappelini with squid ink and pieces of pink crab meat.

By now we were full with both food and wine. But there was no way  we were ever going to decline his dessert suggestion of chocolate lava and mint sauce, and the creme brulee with raspberry sauce. Or some more fine Aussie red.

Which got me humming along to Billy Joel's classic song. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant:

A bottle of red, a bottle of white /
Whatever kind of mood you're in tonight /
I'll meet you anytime you want /
In our Italian Restaurant

A 'wanted' poster of La Tavola's chef
And to top off a fine, fine meal, my rubbery arms buckled under the forceful pressure of the mere mentioning of a glass of grappa to seal the meal and have me proclaiming out loud that this wasn't just one of the best restaurants in Bangkok, but indeed the best restaurant in the world.

Damn, what do they put in that grappa stuff?

Magnifico, as we say in English. But I don't think the Italians have a word for that.

Footnote: La Tavola also serves a popular lunchtime buffet, with eight pastas available for only 550 baht (there's probably a plus plus on the end of that, but still amazing value).

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