BANGKOK — Entering the recently opened Glück Café on Thonglor Road, and one is transported away from the busy downtown of Bangkok.
Glück, which means happiness and luck, has been something in the mind of German co-owner Cristina Grawe for nine years.
“I travelled a lot around and visited many café and restaurants and said to myself: ‘I could do it better’,” said Cristina, a TV journalist who has been in Thailand for the past 16 years. “We try to be as healthy, as organic and as local as possible.”
Three weeks ago, her idea came to fruition. Here you have some popular café food that one would find in a typical café in German cities like bread rolls with three choices of toppings, accompanied by butter and fruits.
This is not a luxe cafe like the original Berlin’s Cafe Einstein where one might be intimidated by its five-star services and decor. Here, it’s comfy, relaxing and yet adequately gentrified.
According to the government-issued “Facts About Germany,” drinking coffee and eating cake is among the leading favourite leisure time activities for Germans, with 52 out of 100 polled said they engaged in the activity at least once a week.
At Glück, authentic German Brotchen (bread rolls) comes at a reasonable 200 baht per order. A piece of A4 paper invites you to tick three out of 12 choices, some organic like emmental cheese and goat cheese and some vegan like vegan cheddar cheese.
The breads, supplied by Bangkok’s German bread-maker Landhaus, come with a choice of sourdough roll, sesame roll or ciabatta roll.
We chose a sourdough roll with Thai goat cheese, artisan pork rillettes and homemade liver sausage spread.
The liver sausage is delicious with just enough texture and not made too fine. The bread is authentic, something you’d expected from a good café in Berlin or Cologne. Thai goat cheese from Chiang Mai was surprisingly not as smelly as we had thought, and it proves to be very enjoyable.
Neither the cheese nor the spread are too salty or sweet as you may find at some local Thai cafes run by Thais who are not adequately experienced in European food.
A recommended German side order is potato salad with cucumber and dill (150 baht). It has just enough sourness and potato cooked just right. Very cold salad is refreshing for a summer day in Bangkok, which is most of the days in Bangkok. This is a recipe from Grawe’s late grandmother and not to be missed.
To take the summer theme further, Grawe served me a gratis glass of German apple soda, or Apfelschorle. The apple juice is organic and contains no sugar.
“This is a classic summer drink in Germany,” Grawe explained. We like it, although some sweet-tooth Thais will need syrup or sugar. It’s just perfect for clients who are Japanese housewives as they tend not to like it sweet but natural.
By then we were nearly full but we had to order Grawe’s grandma-recipe apple crumble (100 baht). How could we not? The crumble is very satisfying and comes in a large portion. It was accompanied by an Americano made with single origin Thai Arabica beans from the north of the kingdom (90 baht).
Grawe is so proud of the excellent apple crumble that she puts the recipe up on a wall in handwritings for all who may wish to copy and try making it by him or herself.
This is a nicely decorated café with white, dark brown and blue color scheme on the first floor of a mid 20th century wooden house. It comes with a very green verdant tropical view of an abandoned foliage and pond at the back of the café.
If you come alone, try sitting on a stool next to the long wooden bar with a view to the green garden.
“This is Thonglor National Park,” Grawe said jokingly of the greenery scene dotted with four coconut trees.
A large Old Cow bell from southern Germany decorated a wall. But do not expect pork knuckle to be served here.
“We’re not trying to have pork knuckle,” said the 49-year-old Grawe, who hails from Trier in southwestern Germany. “Pork knuckles are things that Bavarians eat. We do not have pork knuckle at home.”
Glück offers four types of milk: almond milk, soymilk, low-fat milk and organic milk. Cakes such as cherry cake and banana bread (100 baht each) come without egg or milk.
Customers with babies or toddlers should also be happy to know that the café has a dedicated section for kids to sit and play as well as wholesome children’s food like pumpkin soup without crème.
Ketchup here is home-made and within days, Grawe and her business partner June Selakul will put hamburger on the menu in the very near future. There won’t be any French fries because Grawe doesn’t think it’s healthy enough.
Instead, expect mash potato. Also expect surprising menu such as Burmese tea leaf salad with rice (150 baht).
Three weeks on and who are Glück Café’s target customers?
“Everyone can come. We love to welcome the mothers,” she said, adding that she tries to keep the lunch set menu competitively priced at 150 baht.
“For journalists, we have plucks and USB here,” Grawe said. “At lunch time, business people, a mix of Thai and foreign come.”
After a local Japanese journalist reviewed the café, a stream of Japanese housewives are already patronizing the café. And Grawe is happy with how things have turned out so far.
Glück – Artisan Food and Coffee is open every day except Sunday from 8am to 5pm. It is located near Soi Thonglor 5 at 117/1 Sukhumvit 55. Call 086-0007-114 for details. This review is unsponsored.