Sunday, May 31, 2015

Champagne Henri Giraud AY Grand Cru Fut de Chene MV

Date of Tasting: 14 February 2015
Wine Type: Sparkling White
Grape Varieties: ~ 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 12%
Origin: Champagne, France
Appellation: Ay Grand Cru
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR110
Chubby Appreciation: 94/100
Professional Rating: WA - 91/100, AG - 94/100, WS - 94/100, CT - 92/100

Appearance: Yellow
Aroma: Apple, ripe peach, lemon zest, and menthol.
Palate: Nutty flavour. Fine and creamy mousse. Layers of citrus fruits, grapefruit, and pinot fruits with vibrant acidity. Rich minerality. Persistent finish.

Based on August 2014 disgorgement, it is a non-vintage champagne of opulent personality combining power with unique elegance. Needless to say much. It's a champagne with sleekness and personality that ones shall deserve on a special occasion and festive season. But why wait for such event if you feel like one now. Salute!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Capital by Water Library @ Empire Tower, Bangkok - เดอะ แคปปิตอล บาย วอเตอร์ ไลบรารี่ @ อาคารเอ็มไพร์ทาวเวอร์ กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: Steakhouse / Seafood / Burger / Grill Bar
Price: THB2,700 per person (what we paid for)
Visited: 28 March 2015
Food: 8/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 7/10
Services: 8/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

In general, restaurants associated with Water Library do guarantee consumers at some degree of appreciation for example Water Library @ Chamchuri Square in the form of fine dining and 1881 by Water Library @ Central World in the concept of hanging out bar. Here "The Capital by Water Library", which is located on the 2nd floor of Empire Tower, comes in the concept of urban steakhouse and grill bar. Inside, the ambient is cool and chic resembling the old time New York financial theme with strikingly elegant and opulent decoration. It was my first time here at The Capital and I felt from the first moment that this was going to be a nice meal. And yes, from the service to food, we were totally satisfied. I have to say that the service here is good, and could even beat the service Water Library @ Chamchuri Square where I had felt the let down in service quality during my last visit.

Here, if you are crazy about steak, you can find quite a variety of beef: from German Simmental to Piedmontese to Japanese Kamichiku and grass fed vs. grain fed. Steak lover will sure be excited. What I really like about this place apart from great food and lovely service is the location. Location, Location, and Location is always and still all time classic important factor. Being situated in Empire Tower which is on Sathon Road means that it is right adjacent to BTS Chong Nonsri Station. It is, hence, super convenient to come by via public transport. Though driving here for dinner during weekdays can be a bit of disaster on an unfortunate day due to office staffs storming out heading home, it is at least away from night time/weekend hanging districts like Siam Square, Thonglor, or Sukhumvit Road in which traffic is definitely less crowded during weekend.

The Capital by Water Library @ Empire Tower, Bangkok

restaurant entrance

30's style fashion of interior

comfy seats outside the main restaurant

For me, one of the very first thing to arrive on the table, being bread and butter, happens to be one of my all time favourite. Bread here, at The Capital, did not disappoint me at all. The soft kind of bread came along with yuzu and cranberry butter: mild flavour and aroma with delicacy. Additionally, I, without fail, did swipe through the moderate list of wine in which I found reasonably selected. The list is not extensive but modest and comprehensive. It ranges selection from both old world and new world: sparkling wine, Champagne, white wine, red wine, and dessert wine. Wines are categorised by variety of grapes and then sub-categorised by new or old world. Pricing wise, I would say the mark up is moderate. Not exactly value for money nor ridiculously expensive. For the night, I had Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe 2004 (93pts). The tannic and complexity of this Barolo crafted by Cavallotto did pair wonderfully with tenderloin. I have to say I do like this one a lot and ones should not miss it if you happen to face one.

bread portion

Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe 2004 (93pts)

When it came to the actual food, the first to arrive on the table was Wagyu Bolognese (9/10). This was so so so classically delicious. There is perhaps no need for necessity of Kamichiku wagyu at all. Any decent beef would be so delicious with this recipe and skill. The flavour was just right with good balance of herbs and spices. Texture was delicate. It was served with in-house made pappadelle cooked to al dente. This was my first dish here and the best dish as well. Next was an American classic style of sandwich: Philadelphia Steak and Cheese (8/10). Just by looking what had been placed on the table, I drooled unconsciously already. Tender slices of steak and cheese complemented so well with generous vegetable and peppers. It was the peppers that brought the picture together nicely. The final magic was the bread which was soft but crisp on the outside. Just the first two dishes, good impression has started building up.

Wagyu Bolognese (THB420)

Philadelphia Steak and Cheese (THB470)

Moving on to steak, there were German Simmental Tenderloin 230g (7/10) and Japanese Kamichiku Striploin A4 150g (8/10) for the night: two kinds of beef from two different cuts and from two continents. Both were tender and yielded distinctive flavour and aroma. The German tenderloin was less fatty and less juicy (of course) but exposed more of natural flavour and texture of meat. On the other hand, Kamichiku striploin burst out the juicy fatty character more and indeed was more tender on the touch. Personally, I enjoy the German tenderloin more due to the bite-able texture. Only if the cut was thicker, meaning heavier weight, it would be such a perfect piece.

On the downside, steak at The Capital does not come with any kind of sauce at all. You will have to order if you would like one. For us, we did try Mushroom Cream Sauce (THB150) which was nice, aromatic, and creamy. But honestly, this was too expensive for such a small portion of sauce (approx. 2 portions of glass shots). I believe this should not be charged to customer at all. It is just sauce and sauce should usually compliment along side steak, unless the restaurant sees that their steak does not need any kind of sauce at all to be enjoyed. From my point of view, a touch of Dijon mustard does its job wonderfully. By the way, salt also played a crucial role for steak and there are 3 types of sea salt here to be chosen from: white flake from UK, merlot infused himalayan, and spices infused himalayan.

Last but not least, a side dish was also ordered to complete the act: Dauphinoise Potatoes (8/10) or simply called potatoes gratin. It was so creamy, so cheese, and so flavourful. Well, all in all The Capital is definitely an excellent place for dining. It is not cheap but it sure will satisfy your appetite.

German Simmental Tenderloin 230g (THB950)

Japanese Kamichiku Striploin A4 150g (THB1,100)

Dauphinoise Potatoes (THB150)

The Capital by Water Library @ Empire Tower, Bangkok - เดอะ แคปปิตอล บาย วอเตอร์ ไลบรารี่ @ อาคารเอ็มไพร์ทาวเวอร์ กรุงเทพฯ
Floor 3 Empire Tower
195 Sathon Road
Yan Nawa, Sathon
Bangkok 10120

Open Hours: Mon - Sat from 11:30am - 11:00pm

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe 2004

Date of Tasting: 28 March 2015
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 100% Nebbiolo
Alcohol: 14.5%
Origin: Piedmont, Italy
Appellation: Barolo DOCG
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR100
Chubby Appreciation: 93/100
Professional Rating: WA - 96/100, AG - 94/100, WS - 94/100, FS - 94/100, WE - 92/100, ST - 94/100, JR - 17.5/20, CT - 91/100

Appearance: Sparkling brick red
Aroma: Fragrant of cherry, smoke, tar, spices, and mild rose petal and balsamic
Palate: Fine grains of tannins with medium-full texture. Solid gripping. Muscular but filled in elegance. Spicy notes with sweet-n-sour cherry flavour. Long and exciting finish.

What a dramatic personality this bottle has. I drank this over 2 nights. On the first night, it was firm and tough with earthiness dominant the overall picture. Then it showed more fruits and silkiness on the following night. There is so much to reveal from this bottle of Barolo. Though at the point of tasting, it was already 10 years old, it's still at the early stage of drinking period really. I presume that a few more years of bottle ageing and this gem would reveal its true value. Another piece of art this is. Cheers Cavallotto to it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The District Grill Room and Bar @ Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit - เดอะ ดิสทริคท์ กริลล์ รูม แอนด์ บาร์ @ โรงแรมแมริออท กรุงเทพฯ สุขุมวิท

Cuisine: Steakhouse
Price: THB2,500 per person without alcohol
Visited: 13 March 2015
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 4/10
Services: 5/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

The District Grill Room & Bar at Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit is one recommended destination to hang out with its cool, elegant, and stunning atmosphere. Especially on Friday night when there is live jazz band chorusing along which can also be romantic for a date night out. There is a bar at the front too in case eating is not your priority. What I also like about this place is convenience in travelling here. It is located nearby BTS Thonglor station so it is great for avoiding bad traffic of Sukhumvit Road during busy hours.

No need to guess, this cosy venue is keen on steaks and grilled dishes: not a wide variety but decent enough. Of course, it comes at high price tag. I have to say that this was not my first time at The District and I did notice improvement in its quality. My previous two visits in 2014 were not quite excellent with twice steaks had been sent back for recooking due to overdone. In term of service, I found that some staffs were really nice, polite, and helpful whilst some were kind of lack of experience and were not efficient enough.

The District Grill Room & Bar at Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit

restaurant entrance

the bar area and front dining room

rear dining room with jazz band every Friday

Well, for first course, they were Beef Tartar (6/10) and Fresh Burrata, Tomato Confit, Rocket Leaves, Aged Balsamic (6/10). Beef tartar was nicely prepared and were of good quality of ingredients. The dish was well marinated with herbs and spices. The slow cooked egg on top also gave creaminess to the texture. However, I feel that it still lacks of delicacy on the touch. On the other hand, burrata was nice, creamy, soft, and flavourful as expected. The aged balsamic is of course the classic compliment to this dish and it wouldn't go wrong. Only if there are more tomatoes, the dish would be much better in term of balance. By the way, the bread was nice, soft, and tasty. I like it.

Bread and Butter with Sea Salt

Beef Tartar (THB530)

Fresh Burrata, Tomato Confit, Rocket Leaves, Aged Balsamic (THB400)

The highlight of the meal was USDA Prime Angus Rib Eye 600g (8/10). It was surely nicely prepared. The quality of meat was juicy and full of flavour. I previously used to order the 300g one and was disappointed. Perhaps it was much thinner and controlling to medium-rare can be tough. This thick piece of rib eye was another story. If you are ordering steak here, I would suggest to go for the bigger piece and share if you think it is too much for you. During the meal, we also had a bottle of Craggy Range Sophia 2008, which is Merlot base red wine, to go along and it paired really well with this rib eye. The last dish we did give a go was Grilled Pork Chop, Homemade Apple Sauce (3/10). This was the disappointed one. The pork was tough. The apple sauce was not quite apple sauce but instead gravy with separate poached apple. I wouldn't mind that kind of sauce at all but the amount of apple given was way too little comparing to the size of the pork. It should be balance. I do think pork and apple compliment each other well really.

In brief, if you fancy a nice ambient place to take your date out or hanging out with friends and would not mind paying a big budget, The District can sure entertain you to a certain level especially on Friday night.

USDA Prime Angus Rib Eye 600g (THB4,400)

Grilled Pork Chop, Homemade Apple Sauce (THB690)

The District Grill Room and Bar @ Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit - เดอะ ดิสทริคท์ กริลล์ รูม แอนด์ บาร์ @ โรงแรมแมริออท กรุงเทพฯ สุขุมวิท
2 Soi Sukhumvit 57
Sukhumvit Road
Khlong Tan Nuea, Wattana
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: daily from 05:00pm - 11:00pm

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Craggy Range Sophia Gimblett Gravels 2008

Date of Tasting: 13 March 2015
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 89% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc
Alcohol: 14.5%
Origin: Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Appellation: Gimblett Gravels
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR60
Chubby Appreciation: 95/100
Professional Rating: WA - 94/100, CT - 94/100

Appearance: Opulent garnet
Aroma: Persistent aroma of dark berries, spices, and floral
Palate: Firm and tannic kind of style with big bodied but yet subtlety. Sweet blackcurrant and cassis bursting out at the first sip. Rich and smooth texture. Vibrant acidity balanced the picture well. Apparent toasty oaky feel.

Pretty nice bottle of Merlot based wine in its own style. Rich in fruit. Elegant despite power. Somewhat fabulous with oakiness that did not overwhelm. It might, however, be a little plain for those who look for multi dimensions structure. Well, it is wonderful now for drinking. I enjoyed it with nice piece of medium-rare rib eye. Red meat dish that is not too complex should pair well. Cheers!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Taper Restaurant and Bar @ Thonglor 13, Bangkok - เทเปอร์ เรสตัวรองท์ แอนด์ บาร์ @ ทองหล่อ 13 กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: Casual Brunch / Twist & Mix Style
Price: THB500 per person without alcohol (what we paid for)
Visited: 7 March 2015
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value for money: 5/10
Services: 5/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

If you have tried creation by Chef Ton at Le Du before, you may want to check out his new place in Thonglor where he partners up with Chef Toon who would mainly be steering the wheel of this place. This new little place is called Taper and it is located in Soi Thonglor 13 and is right next to Little Beast. The concept of of this place is different from Le Du but partly inspired. This joint, Taper, starts serving just before noon and last until late afternoon / early evening only: i.e. brunch and lunch destination. However, they also have those twisted dishes, East meets West, like Le Du. Personally, I find it rather interesting but still needs some further improvement. By the way, don't worry that this place is in Thonglor and it would be tedious to find parking spot, there are parking lots just behind the building.

Taper Restaurant and Bar @ Thonglor 13, Bangkok

bar style seats with open kitchen on the lower floor

more comfy seats on the upper floor

The very first dish we got to taste was called Tofu (7/10). It is basically soft kind of tofu served with soy carrot puree and soy reduction. There is also crispy rice along side to give the cracking 3rd dimension. To me, it was like Tao Huai - เต้าฮวย which is soft tofu in lightly sweetened ginger water. I gotta say I do like this dish and it is somewhat healthy too (I think).

Tofu (THB220)

Next there came along pasta dishes: Salted Egg Carbonara (6/10) and E-Sarn Olio (4/10). Salted Egg Carbonara is perhaps inspired by stir-fried squid with salted egg dish of Thai food and pasta carbonara of Italian. The concept of this dish does meet my expectation with salted egg to substitute saltiness of parmesan and egg yolk. On the other hand, E-Sarn Olio was beautiful on its own. It was rich and possesses strong flavour. Somewhat hot and spicy in fact. For us, the word olio somehow misinterpreted the expectation of the dish. Olio is supposed to be rather dry. But it was not quite the case for this one. We believe either the name should be changed or make it a little less soaky. Both pasta dishes, in our view, were a little too soaky and soft. It would be more delightful if al dente was presented. Quality control needs to be lifted at this juncture.

Salted Egg Carbonara (THB290)

E-Sarn Olio (THB290)

Lastly, we got a chance to have our hands on a dessert, even though we were full by the end of pasta dishes. It was Coconut Pancake (6/10) for the case. Ok, I do like this dish. With that creamy and thick coconut caramel syrup, the dish had already by far won my heart personally. With a touch of coconut and almond crumble along with pancake, I think they did pair each other well enough. This is perhaps the twist from grilled banana with coconut caramel that you may find anywhere in Thailand.

In brief, I do like this place and will return in the near future to see how it gets improved. Well, if you are bored with those so many joints in town that serve those egg dishes, sausages, and typical sandwiches for your weekend brunch, you may as well in par with my perception of Taper. Have a try and bon appetit.

Coconut Pancake (THB235)

Taper Restaurant and Bar @ Thonglor 13, Bangkok - เทเปอร์ เรสตัวรองท์ แอนด์ บาร์ @ ทองหล่อ 13 กรุงเทพฯ
44/11 Soi Thonglor 13 (Soi Akkhara Phat)
Sukhumvit Road
Khlong Tan Nuea, Wattana
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: Tuesday - Sunday from 10:00am - 05:00pm
Tel: +66 (0) 99 929 5464

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Domaine Ostertag Riesling Clos Mathis 2012

Date of Tasting: 26 January 2015
Wine Type: White
Grape Varieties: 100% Riesling
Alcohol: 13.5%
Origin: Alsace, France
Appellation: Vin d'Alsace AOC
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR30
Chubby Appreciation: 92/100
Professional Rating: WS - 89/100

Appearance: Light lemon straw.
Aroma: Bouquet of minerality and stone. White flowers, kumquat, and white fruits.
Palate: Some weight and fresh acidity. Sappy and structured. Dry in style but a touch of sweetness on the secondary tone. Existence of ripe pear. 

What a personality of Alsace riesling that Andre Ostertag had created. Such of piece of art this is. The more you sip this Clos Mathis, it seems to release its inner character bit by bit. It's like slow dancing in a ball learning your newly met love of the night. What a privilege to have learned this beauty. Fantastic now. I would not mind drinking as aperitif but light fish dish would be lovely too.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Bangkok @ MahaNakhon CUBE, Bangkok - ลัตเตอลิเย่ เดอ โจเอล โรบูชง กรุงเทพ @ มหานคร คิวบ์ กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: French / Fine Dining
Charged Price: THB2,000 per person without alcohol
Visited: 4 March 2015
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value for money: 2/10
Services: 6/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Launched in December 2014 with the huge huge name tag (as well as price tag) of Joel Robuchon, the man with the most Michelin Stars, I was eager to have a chance to visit. Here comes the chance and we did not hesitate to hear our way to MahaNakhon CUBE in Sathon / Silom area. Indeed the location is great with BTS Chong Nonsri Station right at the front. However, the location of city centre can be chaotic for those who drive.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Bangkok has retained the same concept as in other places of Joel Robuchon with red theme of decoration such as Joel Robuchon Hong Kong. The dining venue is separated into two parts: 1) the counter station where you sit on stool and dine on the counter bar watching chefs perform their roles and 2) the proper dining hall with more elegant and formal atmosphere.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Bangkok

the famous bar seats

more elegant and comfortable dining room

As mentioned, the price tag is definitely high for this high end fine dining venue: THB950 - 1,850 for lunch courses and THB5,000 / 7,500 for tasting menus for both lunch and dinner. Wine pairing is also available. Marked up price in wine list is typically steep as expected: mainly 2 - 4 times of retail price. My expectation was high accordingly, especially with great experience a few years back L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Hong Kong. Bread basket here looked pretty similar to the Hong Kong branch's one but the overall impression was just so-so for these bread and rolls.

For me, I went for 3 courses lunch which was priced at THB1,450++. The starter I chose was Stuffed Small Squids with Piquillos and Black Olives, Chorizo Flavour (6/10). Well, not a very good start of the course for me. The dish was strong in pepper flavour which was nice. However, it was the delicacy touch and perfection of mouth-feel texture that were lacked in my opinion. 

selection of bread and roll

Stuffed Small Squids with Piquillos and Black Olives, Chorizo Flavour

Moving on to main course, it was Roasted Cod and Bouillabaisse, Saffron Rice (6/10). Rather nice and refreshing for the overall sense. Cod was a little over done to my liking. The somewhat creamier than usual stew was pleasant and flavourful. Thanks the idea of matching with saffron rice which went together quite nice. 

Lastly, it was Red Fruits Panna Cotta, Watermelon and Amaou Strawberry, Lime-basil Sorbet (5/10) to end the meal. It was just a typical panna cotta and come on, I had expected more than just this common panna cotta taste and presentation at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. If it was in other places, I would say it was nicely done and forget the presentation. But you better do at higher standard here. Ok, the panna cotta did have nice and creamy texture which was not overly sweetened. The sour and sweetness of fruits and sorbet paired well in general with panna cotta. 

Roasted Cod and Bouillabaisse, Saffron Rice

Red Fruits Panna Cotta, Watermelon and Amaou Strawberry, Lime-basil Sorbet

In order to end the lunch course, you may as well choose to have cheese instead of dessert or fancy choices of dessert from the trolley at the supplementary charge of THB200.

In overall, I was not impressed with the branch of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and won't think of returning at all. Such a hefty price tag and it should have been much better. It is sure not because it was just lunch. What I have experienced, no matter how elegant or classy the restaurant is, either lunch or dinner or tasting menu does represent the calibre of the restaurant well.  By the way, almost forgetting to mention about service. I would say staffs here were really nice and polite. But they seem to lack of professional experience for example requesting for butter the staff just went missing or knowledge of the dish was not quite there.

Cheese Trolley

Dessert Trolley

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Bangkok @ MahaNakhon CUBE, Bangkok - ลัตเตอลิเย่ เดอ โจเอล โรบูชง กรุงเทพ @ มหานคร คิวบ์
Floor 5, MahaNakhon CUBE
96 Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Road
Silom, Bang Rak
Bangkok 10500

Open Hours: daily from 11:30am - 02:30pm for lunch and from 06:30pm - 10:30pm for dinner

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Benjamin Leroux Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Gain 2011

Date of Tasting: 30 January 2015
Wine Type: White
Grape Varieties: 100% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 13%
Origin: Burgundy, France
Appellation: Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru AOC
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR90
Chubby Appreciation: 93/100
Professional Rating: AG - 92/100, ST - 92/100, CT - 90/100

Appearance: Bright yellow
Aroma: Rich yellow fruits. Buttery and mineral aroma. Citrus blossom.
Palate: Cleanse and fresh with somewhat buttery texture. Mild honey and peach. Sophisticated spices. Long and savoury finish. Medium bodied.

Pretty nice wine with opulent character. Swinging and sniffing, it had already taken my breathe away. Sipping it took me to another level. Not exactly the very best Puligny Montrachet available but it hit the spot for me with those lingering acidity, seductive limestone-like touch, and firm dimensions. Delicious now but would lovely to see how it performs in the near future.

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