BANGKOK — This restaurant in Chidlom proves that Mediterranean cuisine can be borderless, though there may be fine dining price wall in between.
For three years in a row, Quince was not only listed in the Thailand Michelin Guide, but awarded the Plate distinction for exceptional food. Quince dares to use Asian spices to unleash the full flavor of modern Mediterranean dishes, a creative amalgam, just like its Thai-South African chef.
“We don’t limit ourselves to certain side of Mediterrenean cuisine at Quince. We’re trying to play around a wide variety of cooking styles and ingredients here,” chef Charlie Jones said.
After moving from the former Sukhumvit 45 branch where the restaurant first opened in 2012, Quince recently found its new home in the stylish Siri House, sharing the same roof as comfort food café Luka and elegant cocktail bar Jacqueline.
Inside, frequent fine diners may find the interior uninspiring. The dining area is dimly lit, burnished with loft-style wood, metal furnishings, and a large open kitchen. But once you’re seated, the bland setting is forgivable with exceptional service as the wait staff tuck in the chair for you and place the glass precisely on the X mark engraved on the table.
Quince’s entire menu fits on one piece of A4 paper, and includes Thai-influenced Mediterranean dishes (Note: the prices indicated here are exclusive of 7 percent VAT and 10 percent service charge).
A meal at Quince begins with bite-sized appetizers like Salmon Roe Tartlet (150 baht per piece). The shortcrust savoury pastry and sweet yuzu curd goes seamlessly well with the salty salmon roe and smoked sour cream.
Seafood lovers will love Hay-smoked Hamachi (390 baht). Thin slices of smoked Japanese amberjack sit in a creamy purée of fennel and blood orange. The citrus fruit downplays the fish with its slightly sour, fruity aroma.
Need more swanky bites? The Sublime Oyster, 150 baht per piece, are fished in Geay in southwestern France and are served on pebbles with condiments like red wine sauce and the staple nam jim seafood.
However, we don’t find the dish to be exalted enough for its name, since it was literally just a raw oyster.
A more adorned per-piece item is the Wagyu Beef in Betel Leaf (110 baht per piece). A small chunk of juicy Wagyu beef is rolled in an aromatic betel leaf and flavored with smoked Sriracha sauce. It’s served on top of a sheet of flour, which you roll up, trapping together the wagyu-betel roll, pickled kohlrabi, and fried shallot rings.
The Crab Salad and Brioche (380 baht) is a slice of brioche bread generously packed with crab meat in Thai herbal sauce that reminds one of nam jim seafood sauce, and topped with smoked avocado. The dressing is creamy and hidden with notes of Thai spices.
BBQ Baby Octopus (330 baht), not too chewy or too doughy, is enveloped in butter, a Spanish cold soup ajoblanco made of Jerusalem artichoke, and spicy paprika. Some tongues may say the dish is spicy, but for us it’s just pungent.
The Wood Roasted Prosun Farm Coquelet (830 baht) is not a just a roasted young chicken. The chef said the whole, free range baby chicken is marinated with brine and herbs, dry-aged to make the skin crisp while leaving the meat tender, before being stuffed and roasted with smoking hay.
The dish is served in a closed pot to keep its homey bonfire aroma before your server lifts the lid and the smoke envelope you. A skillet of salad with grilled tomatoes and potatoes comes as a side dish, but if you want carbs with protein, order the Not So Mashed Potatoes (230 baht) that comes with no gravy as it is already perfected with truffle butter.
The meal concludes with complimentary cocktail jelly bears made from vodka with Coke and the bracingly bitter Negroni.
Options for drinks are taken care of by Jacqueline, not Kennedy’s wife, but the bar upstairs. We went for a refreshing, fruity sweet A Day in Newport (360 baht) that mixes lychee, lime, and lavender with gin and cointreau.
If the cocktails fail to impress you, browse through the extensive 13 page-long wine list that covers a little bit of everything from the Old and New Worlds.
Overall, Quince produces a fruitful culinary experience for those who are not afraid of modern forms and daring flavors in Mediterrenean cuisine. Just don’t expect the 150-baht-per-pieces to be as zesty Thai food. And bring a thick wallet.
“Our food can be robust as we focus on the cooking techniques, especially with flames and smoke,” chef Charlie said.