The buzz: Perhaps a minor testament to the slump of Italian dining in our fair city, KOI’s The Bridge has relaunched its beautiful, lofty, glass space as a pan-Mediterranean eatery dubbed Living Room, with French chef Eric Berrigaud at the helm and an interesting menu of dishes from Morocco, Egypt, Greece, France and others. The décor: Sitting behind a web of glass and black steel with plentiful foliage outside, the dining room is large and uncluttered, with white chairs and wood tables and some large, comfy booths in the back. The water running over the panes on all sides provides all the atmosphere of dining semi-alfresco during a rainstorm, without the bad hair. The food: The menu here foregoes the predictable babaganoush, kebabs or even moussaka, you’d expect from this sort of broad cuisine interpretation. Instead, they offer dishes like fish soup a la Marseillaise, roasted scorpion fish with bulgur wheat and beef meatballs and barley flakes in a tomato sauce with cracked egg on top. Still, there are also more familiar offerings with dishes like the lamb tagine with couscous. Set lunches involve daily specials, and B450 will get you an appetizer, main course, dessert and coffee/tea. There are interesting desserts as well, such as the caramel ice cream baklava and pineapple carpaccio with lemon sherbet. The drinks: Fruit juices and ice-blended smoothies and regular cocktails like martinis and screwdrivers. We’re most interested, however, in their two beers imported from Spain: Estrella Damm Barcelona and Estrella Inedit. Also unusual is the rather long list of roses, a sign they’d like to encourage the custom of hot weather, lunchtime boozing. The crowd: Lots of farang at lunchtime, as is to be expected in this neighborhood, including French ladies who lunch and large groups of uncles. As they go into their grand opening, though, we expect to see a nice, mixed crowd, especially during dinner service. Who knows you might even catch a model actually eating.
We were excited by the prospect of the Living Room. Following the failure of Koi’s Italian offering, The Bridge, this new incarnation seemed to be a chance to bring something new to the city’s dining scene–a contemporary approach to Mediterranean dining in an equally contemporary setting. In the end, though, a lack of genuine commitment to one cuisine and too many bland dishes conspire to undo all the promise. And there is definitely promise. The Louvre-esque glass pyramid with water cascading down the façade is sleek. Except that once you settle into a cushioned booth, you notice a rather echoey quality to the space that amplifies certain sounds (like the blender) and deadens conversation. The food also makes a good initial impression—the amuse bouche, which last time was a delicious and flavorsome stuffed fig, certainly seems to augur well for the rest of the meal. And while prices are on the high side you can’t quibble with portion sizes—especially of the starters. The goat’s cheese salad (B360) is enough for two and the cheese itself pleasantly tart and creamy, though it’s let down by a rather tasteless dressing. The mixed Mediterranean platter (B400) is more impressive with a mix of dishes from the delightfully smoky humus to the light fresh tzatziki and the moist and fluffy tabbouleh. It’s clear that the chef can handle dishes with a North African and Middle Eastern slant, as further evidenced by the wonderful lamb tajine with “semolina couscous”, served in an authentically pointy Morroccan-style clay pot. The meat just melts in the mouth and works wonderfully with the sweet aroma of the gravy and couscous. The poached cod is well cooked but needs something more than steamed vegetables and a rather tepid aioli (garlic and olive oil) sauce. The seared Australian Angus Beef just about qualifies as being served medium-rare but the meat is underwhelming and the sides humdrum. When you add in service and VAT, you’re paying for the right to have such soaring expectations. At times The Living Room does live up to its promise but it doesn’t do it often enough to justify such high prices.
|Address:||Living Room, 26 Sukhumvit Soi 20, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Opening hours:||daily 10am-9:30pm|
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