BANGKOK — Coco Chaophraya Coffee Bar and Bistro is an enjoyable place to have a sundown drinks or dinner with a river view – if you do not mind putting money into Yellowshirt leader Sondhi Limthongkul’s family coffer.

The place, less than a year old, is run by Sondhi’s son and fellow activist Jittanat Limthongkul. For those with short memories, Sondhi and Jittanat campaigned side by side against populist leader Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies, organizing street protests that resulted in the 2006 coup and changed Thai politics forever.

Understandably, the Limthongkuls are divisive figures, but if you can overcome political partisanship, then Coco Chaophraya is not a bad choice for a luncheon by the river at all.

Coco has a lovely, westward view of the Chao Phraya River. Not the crowded, busy section of Chao Phraya with the touristy Temple of Dawn that everyone knows so well, but a relatively more quiet stretch that passed through Rama VIII Bridge where you can observe boats and ferries gliding by.

Since it’s in the afternoon, I couldn’t order alcohol so I ordered a latte (60 Baht). Decent but not spectacular. It was followed by deep fried potato wedges with crispy garlic and Parmesan cheese (120 baht). The wedges come with three dipping sauces: ordinary Heinz ketchup, wasabi mayo and yellow curry mayo.

The portion was generous, and the potatoes good but nothing to die for, but I did especially enjoy the wasabi mayo.

More popular are dishes like grilled giant river prawn, a 490 baht dish that comes with a single 300-gram prawn. Typical pasta menus includes Spaghetti Carbonara at 200 baht.

Prices for alcohol beverage are moderate. A small bottle of local Chang or Singha beer goes for 80 baht. A pint of Belgian import Hoegaarden will set you back 280 baht. A glass of Johnnie Walker Black is 180 baht and a glass of Pina Colada is 200 baht.

All in all, it’s a place for the views, with alfresco seats next to the river at Santi Chaiprakarn Park. The cafe itself is located in the back of the historic Baan Chao Phraya building, sharing the facility with Sondhi’s mighty mouthpiece ASTV and other departments related to his political and media fiefdom.

But worry not: the staff are helpful and apolitical, showing no sign of wanting to convert you into any colored faction. In fact, they weren’t even wearing yellow.

Indoor potted plants, composing of cacti and succulents are all fake, however.

The crowd is a mix between foreign and local; afterall, it’s just a few minutes walk from the backpacker haven of Khaosan Road.

Coco Chaophraya opens daily from 9am to midnight. Alcohol is only served between 11am to 2pm and 5pm to midnight due to booze laws. The venue is located on 49/1 Phra Arthit Road, a 30-second walk from Tha Phra Arthit Pier. This review is unsponsored.

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