Chef of Phuket’s Bamphot Kitchen brings modern British cuisine to Bangkok.
The buzz: The former chef at Phuket’s Bampot Kitchen, Jamie Wakeford, is behind this pared-back restaurant bringing a “modern British” twist to Suan Phlu. Before arriving in Thailand, the Scottish chef trained at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck and Gordon Ramsey’s Maze in the UK, and this is reflected in a menu that’s big on local produce and reinterpretations of classic British recipes.
The vibe: Olta shoots for the sweet spot between casual afterwork meetups and special-occasion dining through teal banquettes, moody down-lighting, walls popping with black-and-white contemporary art and a soundtrack permanently tuned into mid-tempo hip-hop. Both the open kitchen at the back of the room and the gleaming, gold bar at the center are hives of activity. Prop up the bar counter if you’re feeling sociable, or get away from it all with the private booths upstairs that allow for a combination of quiet moments and sly people-watching.
The food: Bar snacks like the Scotch egg (pork belly sausage, quail egg and piccalilli puree, B100) and Thai wagyu tartare sandwich (served on brioche with salted egg yolk, B150) hint at humble origins, but regular, run-of-the-mill pub grub this ain’t. Large plates head in more multicultural directions, like the creamy, herb-packed cauliflower risotto (B350), in which the vegetable turns up in three different ways for amazing texture—we recommend not sharing. Big eaters are rewarded in dishes like the Thai sole (B650), a massive hunk of fish topped with baby shrimp, briny capers and semi-dried grapes that comes to life with a good squeeze of lemon, and the dry-aged duck breast (B600) with pistachios and crisp-burnt brussels sprouts. Don’t end your meal there, as Olta’s take on banoffee pie is ever so light thanks to the intriguing inclusion of tofu cream. If you like the sound of any of that, be quick—according to Wakeford, the menu is unlikely to stand still too long.
The drinks: The cocktail list is short, but no after-thought, also reveling in fresh ingredients and refreshed recipes. The OG Tea (B320), a mix of gin, Earl Grey tea, citrus and tonic, makes an easygoing starter. Don’t let the Suan Phlu Mule’s (vodka, honey, ginger, apricot and bitters, B350) sweetness fool you, as this drink will sneak up on you. Wine by the glass starts at very happy sub-B200 prices (bottles from under B1,000, too): for a little bit more, try a French Felines Jourdan (B260) white wine or a biodynamic Italian Red Avignonesi (B270).
Why we’d go back: With its quality, approachable take on British soul food and relatively wallet-friendly prices, Olta fills a big void in Suan Phlu. There are plans to open for lunch as well as serve Sunday brunch out on the front terrace, so we predict long, leisurely days of eating and drinking ahead.