Jul 6, 2019
By Jennine Lee-St. John. Photographs by Leigh Griffiths.
Let us now praise butter. Butter churned with the cream of cows ethically raised in the rolling fields of Khao Yai, in Thailand, and delicate fleur de sel hand-raked from the salt marshes of Brittany, France. Sweet-creamy, whisper-of-salty butter, the most ethereal in Bangkok, a simple spread made transcendent—the same way your perspective on the oft-banal urban jungle is elevated to new heights by the view from the 61st-floor dining room. When a man who has earned three Michelin stars is paddling out your butter tableside, you know its heffing good butter.
This spring, lebua at State Tower—home of cloud-perched SkyBar and Michelin two-starred Mezzaluna—launched a stunning new secret wing that houses Pink Bar, which serves the city’s largest selection of champagnes by the glass and is a flirty antechamber to Chef’s Table, a sublime, awards-bait fine- diner. Chef Vincent Thierry is captaining this 46-seat, degustation-only expedition, a mission for the finest imported proteins and top-grade Thai produce, fueled in part by the first bespoke blend of bubbles Perrier-Jouët has ever crafted for a hotel. Back in the day, Thierry opened Caprice, in the Four Seasons Hong Kong, and led it to its first Michelin three-star rating, which makes Chef’s Table the only place in Thailand where such a decorated maestro is running day-to-day operations and cooking your food.
And his presence isn’t limited to the butter presentation or occasional check-in. The pièce de résistance of Chef’s Table is the bespoke-designed, handcrafted, gilded-roofed Molteni kitchen, a stunning theater-in-the-round for Thierry and his team’s culinary dance. The atmosphere is at once rarefied and congenial.
“When you are spending three hours at the table, you shouldn’t feel the time pass,” Thierry says. “We want to create interaction between chefs and guests.” Which is how I found myself plating our mains with sous chef Pierre Chomet. I propped up the milk-fed veal rack OK, and my tweezers-placed zigzag of the garden veggies (all from Thailand) wasn’t the worst, but I could really do with some plate lip–cleaning and mousse- squeezing control classes.
Part of my jitters came from awe at being in that bank-breaking beaut of a kitchen. The floor is cooled so the chefs always look their picture-perfect best, and a unique ventilation and air-filtration system encircles the whole thing like a force field so that you can barely smell anything outside the ring of fire.
Once it hits your table, though (or in the case of my dining companion’s duo of Challans duck, I deliver it with a little curtsy while trying not to trip in my stilettos) the scents are layered and divine, mingling with the notes of wine generously poured by cheerful somm Richard King. The menu offers two options for each of six courses (plus cheese—and you want them all), and each of those has its own standard or premium wine pairing. Best of the best? The cherry- meets-tobacco, balanced Biondi- Santi Brunello di Montalcino 2012 that swooped in with that duck.
We loved the Scottish langoustine and sweetbread lasagna, the Normandy sole fillet with black olives, and the seared foie gras with citrus mosaic and carrot fondant, which was like a decadent mid-meal dessert. Longtime Thierry fans will be happy to find his signature king- crab tiramisu leading off, but he’ll be changing most items intermittently to keep things surprising, and to go with the seasonal flow (look out soon for a showcase of the year’s best eggplant). “I try the maximum to use local ingredients if they are high quality,” he says. “It’s easier to work in this direction in Thailand, as here we have the producers close to us.”
In fact, Theirry says some good Thai fleur du sel is being made and he’s transitioning to that soon. I’m already plotting my return to dive into a new vat of silky-saline all-Thai but totally French beurre. Maybe he’ll even teach me to paddle it out.
lebua.com; seven-course menu Bt7,900; standard wine pairing Bt4,500; premium wine pairing Bt6,900; tea pairing Bt3,500