Ceret Restaurant & Wine Bar is the kind of place that really gets me excited. On the surface they have everything going for them, including their premier location on the ground floor of of the Helix Tower at Bangkok’s trendiest new address – The District EM Quartier. Another advantage is a kitchen headed up by a youthful and creative team of brothers turned chefs who take the art of cuisine to a very personal and aesthetically pleasing level.
The restaurant itself has a cool and neutral color palate featuring white and grey accents, strategically placed potted greenery and an enviable view of the EM Quartier Water Fall in the courtyard as a soothing distraction. They buck the open kitchen trend and instead go for a unique “viewing kitchen” of enclosed glass and white marble where you can see the chefs labor at their craft in the tiny work space.
The menu is reminiscent of a coffee table book full of high gloss “food porn” shots of modern haute cuisine. Chef Thanakrit Saengvanich, Kris as he likes to be called, is incredibly humble about the accomplishments of him and his brother as well as the concept behind their new venture. “We were born in Thailand but grew up in the USA. Inspiration comes from our travels in Spain and the skills learned from working in fine dining establishments in New York City. 98% of the menu is local and organic but the food concept comes directly from food we remember from our childhood. At its essence we are cooking simple comfort food”, Asserted Chef Kris.
But don’t be fooled, this is elevated cuisine that incorporates modern cooking techniques, precision, skill and playful, yet thoughtful and creative flair. Case in point is their signature Market Vegetable Salad w/ Fried Tofu & Spicy Peanut Sauce. This dish changes with the availability at the market and incorporates at least 20 seasonal vegetables. It’s a sweet and spicy myriad of raw, cooked and pureed vegetables that tantalizes the senses on every level. Another tasty starter is the Fried Chicken Lollipop w/General Tso’s Sauce, Broccoli & Cashew Nut Butter. Inspired by the classic American –Chinese “fast food”, it is elevated while still incorporating all the fundamental elements of the original. I also tried the Selection of Wild Mushroom w/ Confit egg-yolk “fudge”, Parmesan, Truffle & Coffee. Although I wanted to love this dish, it lacked flavor and we felt the firmer texture of the confit yolk fudge was not as luxurious as a more traditional runny egg yolk. Another successful dish was the Asian inspired and beautifully presented Salmon Cooked Almost Raw w/ Green Veggies, Avocado-Miso & Charred Onion Broth. It incorporates an array of crunchy green beans and silky soba noodles for a well-balanced and subtlety powerful dish. Dessert is just as stimulating and I highly recommend the Ovaltine Café Cake, Melted Chocolate Crumb, Cream & White Coffee Ice Cream. This is a grown-up reinterpretation of a childhood favorite that surprises you with its complex yet complementary mix of layered flavors.
Although everything I tried on my visit was not a resounding hit, Ceret gets points for making the attempt. They are challenging assumptions people have about eating healthy and creatively forging ahead with truly inspired cuisine. They are taking simple ingredients and exploring what’s possible, while feeding all your senses and giving you something new that is also familiar.