Cafe Claire enlivens the weekend with a parade of eggs, oysters, duck and terrific Tournedos Rossini
AT CAFE Claire, echoes of diplomatic banter and office shop-talk – leftovers from another week of luncheons among the neighbourhood embassy and business crowd – yield to an altogether merrier mood when the menu changes for weekend brunch.
It’s a recent addition to proceedings at the French bistro in the posh Oriental Residence on Wireless Road, which through the week pulls in corporate executives and staff from the nearby American and Dutch embassies.
Light streams in through tall glass windows, and the outdoor view is of taller green trees. Guests settle into leatherette banquettes and wicker-based armchairs, if not perched on wooden stools at the bar. The floor is grey marble, the white walls hold artful monotone prints and old-fashioned bistro signs, and the ambience is easygoing.
Weekend brunch is amazing, with highlights including the Seafood Tower, sized for two (Bt2,590) or four (Bt4,850). It’s a cosmopolitan, three-tier assemblage of iced marine treasures like Maine lobster, Alaskan king crab, Fine de Claire oysters, New Zealand mussels and tiger prawns from Australia. Alongside are the dipping sauces – red vinegar and chopped shallot, mayo truffle, and spicy Thai-style seafood.
The oysters are carefully selected based on size and quality, meaning fulsome, sweet and buttery soft. Have them raw with lemon juice or Thai style – golden-fried with shallots and garlic in a spicy sauce and served with a sprig of krathin (white popinac, an evergreen).
There are seven choices of egg dishes, but it always seems hard to choose other than the Eggs Benedict (Bt290). They’re quite traditional – a pair of poached eggs and grilled ham on toasted English muffins with sprigs of asparagus, drizzled in heavenly hollandaise sauce – and they’re quite superb. Grilled tomatoes and hash browns come along for the pleasure trip.
On the other hand, there’s no denying the appeal of the Ratatouille Omelette (Bt290), in which chunks of red, green and yellow bell pepper, onion, zucchini and eggplant wave hello. They’ve been stir-fried in tomato paste before the omelette is braised at 60 degrees Celsius for a full hour. This order too comes with grilled asparagus and tomatoes and hash browns.
The Smoked Salmon (Norwegian) in tangy creme fraiche and two toasted brioches (Bt360) is presented on a wooden tray, dotted with capers and well-chopped greens, and with a mixed salad of mizuna, rocket leaves, baby spinach and red oak leaves in balsamic dressing nestled between the brioches.
The Duck Confit with caramelised mango and berries (Bt390) is truly creative. Leg of duck weighing around 350 grams is first cooked sous-vide for six hours, absorbing the aromas of garlic, rosemary and tarragon, and then chilled. Before serving it’s cooked again, with salt and pepper, and finally seared until crisp outside, while the meat within stays soft.
You might expect mashed potatoes alongside, but Wachiranupong Piasantea, the chef de partie, had a better idea. “Instead we use seared nam dok mai mango, which adds a sweet and slightly tangy taste that offsets the oiliness of the duck”, he says. “The dish is also served with blueberries and raspberries that have been sauteed with pepper, salt and olive oil, and then everything is drizzled with orange sauce.”
Tournedos Rossini (Bt1,300) is a 180-gram chunk of tender Australian wagyu tenderloin dressed with black pepper and olive oil, grilled and then oven-roasted and served on a hot stone. It remains rare and juicy, though bloodless, and, for an added treat, it’s topped with pan-fried foie gras. On the side are pureed carrot, roasted zucchini stuffed with tomato, Parmesan and Gruyere and a Potato brunoise roasted with whipping cream and more Parmesan, along with red-wine sauce.
The desserts are just as magnificent, including Tiramisu with passion fruit, Panna Cotta with raspberry coulis (each of these Bt280), and macarons of various flavours (Bt50 apiece), or go for a Thai-style sweet treat – Mango and Sticky Rice (Bt180).
Among the beverages, Cafe Claire serves TWG tea, Illy coffee and freshly pressed juices of orange, apple and carrot.
TREAT THE FAMILY
>>Weekend Brunch is served weekly from 11 to 4.
>>Cafe Claire is in the Oriental Residence on Wireless Road.
>>Book a table at (02) 125 9000, extension 9080, or www.Oriental-Residence.com/cafeclaire.