Classic French fare, with some well-chosen modern embellishments and Mediterranean influences, makes Petits Plats a very welcome addition to Bangkok’s burgeoning bistro scene.
The Velaa Sindhorn Village lifestyle complex on Langsuan Road has no shortage of premium drink and dine spots. One of the more recent additions to this esteemed line-up is Petits Plats, which has quietly been making a name for itself among discerning diners since opening back in January.
The restaurant is owned by the same parent company behind Burger & Lobster, Jimmy’s Steak & Fries, Boba, and Vaso – which sits directly opposite Petits Plats – so when it launched it already carried with it a certain amount of culinary caché. However, don’t imagine for a moment that this is a dining spot piggy-backing on its predecessors. On the contrary, it boldly breaks new ground with a menu of French and European classics, occasionally reinterpreted in a modern style, that is virtually flawless. If I were an Olympic judge I’d be tempted to give it a 10, but perhaps coming out of a prolonged lockdown has made me overly enthusiastic about the sheer joy of dining out… anywhere!
All hyperbole aside, it’s evident from the very first of my six succulent snails on the Escargots de Bourgogne platter that Turkish-born Head Chef Eray Katirci knows what French food is all about. Garlicky, buttery, and perfectly tender, these mouthwatering molluscs are decorated with a deep green mix of fresh herbs – parsley, tarragon, and dill – and served with slices of housemade, toasted brioche. It’s like being momentarily transported to a cosy bistro in Paris, with all the delicious clichés that entails.
The intimate interior of Petits Plats also stirs up memories of European bistro bliss, with diners having the option to choose one of 10 seats at the marble-topped bar – facing the open kitchen – or one of the half dozen or so tables in the art-filled main room, where the white walls and mirrored alcoves are full to bursting with brilliant reproductions of paintings and sculptures by such modern masters as Fernando Botero, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, and Keith Haring. For more private affairs, a seductive circular staircase leads up to a second floor room where around 10 guests can dine together. The one large table here is flanked by open shelves displaying the restaurant’s collection of French wines, all selected from small, boutique wineries.
For my meal I’m happily seated in the arty room, where the next plate laid before me consists of a refreshing endive salad; all drizzled in honey mustard dressing and served with generous dollops of rich gorgonzola cheese, crunchy caramelized walnuts, and fresh chives. It’s one of the chef’s original creations, and after tasting it I’m not surprised it has become a signature dish. This is followed by the Salade de Crustacés, a cylindrical- shaped helping of fresh king crab and Canadian lobster – “one of the best lobsters in the world” according to the chef – mixed with seasonal vegetables. It’s light yet substantial, and the citrusy signature dressing adds some necessary tang.
The seafood showcase continues with a tuna tartare, this time featuring locally sourced fish. Added to the firm pink chunks of chopped Thai tuna are pickles, capers, and shallots, as well as a flavoured soya sauce dressing made with orange juice and bonito flakes. In the middle of it all sits a cured quail egg yolk, and the whole thing is paired with a scoop of Oscietra caviar, served (as it should be) on a mother-of-pearl spoon.
It’s at this point that my lunch gets a little DIY, and I’m put in charge of making my own seasoning. All the table settings at Petits Plats include a lemon and tomato (plus a knife to cut them), as well as pink and white salt and pepper shakers, and a wide-bodied ceramic bottle of olive oil emblazoned with the restaurant’s logo. It’s a cute touch, designed to allow guests to customise the flavouring of their dishes, and Chef Eray explains that by adding olive oil and salt and pepper to the yolk in my dish, and giving it a brisk stir, I can create my own mayonnaise. Quelle surprise!
The afternoon then takes a short detour south, to Italy, when a tantalising bowl of pesto pasta arrives. It’s one of the new menu items the chef has suggested I try, and I couldn’t be happier. The rigatoni tubes are thoroughly drenched in the flavourful pesto sauce – just the way I like it – with plenty of fresh burrata cheese (creamy, not watery), homemade sundried tomato, and a topping of fresh basil leaves rounding out the dish.
Another item from the new menu I’m invited to sample is the duck confit served on a bed of butternut squash risotto. Chef Eray describes it as “my signature dish”, elaborating on how the duck leg is seasoned for several hours in his own special spice blend, and then cooked in olive oil for eight hours at low temperature. This dish easily ticks all the boxes for me. The meat is crispy outside and tender inside, while the risotto is aromatic, flavourful, and has just the right amount of bite on the rice. If I’m ever forced to choose my last meal, I think this – preceded by the pesto rigatoni – has a good chance of making it to the short list.
When the hearty, and still sizzling pork chop entrée arrives next, I begin to realize that the name Petits Plats (French for “small plates”) definitely doesn’t apply to every dish on the menu. Here, Chef Eray has used local pork which he’s marinated for 12 hours in a brine of water, spices, fresh herbs, and garlic, infusing all the flavours into this plump and generous cut of meat. It’s then cooked sous vide, before being finished in the grill with butter, garlic, rosemary and thyme, and glazed with a paste of black garlic, honey, and mustard. Plated with a small mound of mixed mustard on the side, it’s tender, juicy and, quite simply, superb. And if your calorie counter allows it, order with it a side of Frites Maison – homemade French fries that go through three different cooking processes to keep them crispy outside and mashy inside.
Finally, from the four-choice dessert menu the chef recommends the Pain Perdu à la Française, or “French toast with ice cream”, as he refers to it.
“It’s like classic, breakfast French toast, but we do it in a dessert way,” he points out. “Buttery brioche is soaked in a cream mixture, then we pan fry it with butter and sugar so that it’s caramelised on the outside. Served with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, it’s at once creamy, salty, and sweet.”
As I chat with Chef Eray over this divinely decadent dessert – love handles be damned! – he goes on to tell me how he spent the last few years working in Dubai, before relocating to Bangkok specifically for this new restaurant. And while it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride so far, what with Covid closures and alcohol restrictions, I foresee a promising future for this talented chef. If nothing else, he clearly understands that dry ice theatrics do not make a dish more delicious, and that garlic, butter, and olive oil are pretty much the holy trinity when it comes to food that satisfies both the stomach and the soul.
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