Sufficient Consumption

The other day Chef and I went to lunch at Le Normandie where Thomas Keller (of French Laundry and Per Se fame) was guest chefing and decided to give it a go in the name of research for Chef's work. So we caught the skytrain down to the river hopped on the ye olde colonial Oriental barge and popped off in the beautifully manicured gardens reminicent of yet more ye oldie colonialism where we caught glimpses of Thai military generals having lunch (sufficiency economy indeed!) and foreign dignitaries pacing the lobby with self importance. We met some friends from San Francisco there who could never get a booking at his restaurant in the Nappa Valley and proceeded upstairs to the restaurant.

The food was....well more than sufficient. The signature dish of Keller "oysters and pearls" was probably the highlight, although I know that if I was to put an oyster with a big dolllop of caviar and cover it all in a butter sauce people would probably applaud me too, although I probably wouldn't be so sophomoric as to place inverted comments around it. It's long been a sign of insufferable pompousness for people to do the whole inverted comma thing when talking, I don't see why menus should be exempted from this judgement. But it was yummy and it did however almost inspire me to break into a modified version of Prince's song "diamonds and pearls".

Other dishes were more demure and tempered skill and technique with subtlely novel flavour pairings (jesus did I just say that?), like the artichoke agnolottti which was so delicate that it seemed as though the pasta had been made only seconds before. Also delicious was the Canadian lobster, great big chunks of claw meat scattered simply with celery leaves and a strange but tastey bread pudding. Although as Chef continued to point out during most of the courses that much of the food owed its succulence to the wonders of souvide cooking - a style of boil in the bag cookery that is basically fool proof when it comes to attaining moist juiciness, this didn't mean much to me as I stuffed tender morsel after tender morsel into my overpriviledge face. The only slightly disspointing course in the meal was the main course (it always is these days) which was basically a super luxe steak with glorified gravy, potatoes and vege. It was rather bland and boring for my liking but chef was rather awestruck by the potato prepared "mille-feuille", if one is allowed to be awestruck by a potato. He said it was an extremely difficult way to prepare a potato. But for me being the hack ametuer that I am, it was still just a potato. Potato poschmato.The bill was, a take-a-big-gulp-of-over-priced-wine-and-sign-away-your-life-for-the-next-few-months, type of bill....was it worth it? For chef yes definitely, a good chance to see what all the fuss is about, and gain some perspective on his own food. For me, well I'm just the lucky bitch who gets to tag along for kicks.

As for the restaurant and the overall atmosphere: well people say that the location of the French Laundry is magical nestled in the Nappa Valley amongst a french country garden, as for Le Normandie I had never been there before and probably never will again. Where Thomas Keller or any so called celebrity chef is a special night out on the town in a developed country, in Southeast Asia its strictly hi so. Le Normandie is all about old world airs and graces. It's dinner jackets and chandiliers, chintz and crystal, boufants and fats cats. Think Barbara Cartland, think Imelda and as I walked in I suddenly began to wish, for only once in my life, that chef was a rap star and that I was at least a pimped out rap star's girlfriend, so that we could at least dine as irreverently as possible in this most pretenious of surroundings. I had a few day dreams while dining of Chef and I as maybe the Wu Tang Clan and entourage making a grand entrance and ruffling the bouffants of a few conservative mega rich dragon ladies. Day dreams indeed, instead chef and I are of firmly middle class antipodean background (read equally uncomfortable in environments of both extreme wealth and extreme poverty) so there was no crystal champagne or swinging off the chandileirs in diamond encrusted thongs for us and instead we just oooohed and aahhhed where appropriate and tried to remember our table manners a la julia roberts pretty woman.

So, to be frank while we enjoyed the meal, the general unease I felt about dining amongst the over priviledged and elite of Bangkok, and the over the top oppulence of Le Normandie left me feeling rather nauseated at both myself, but more so at the regular dinners around me who seemed to be on first name familiarity with the staff there.

amuse my bouche!

oysters and pearls (no it's not the name of a bad prince song)

"agnolotti" of "sunchokes"

Lobster with bread thingy

Beef with technically difficult potato and other trying vegetables

pre-dessert palate cleansing goodness

Dessert dessert not nearly as rich as most of the patrons

Thomas Keller Le Normandie Bangkok -

food *****
price $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
atmosphere (whoops I just threw up a little bit in my mouth)


    Oh my, I want to have what you had...Thomas are too lucky!


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