Water Library Chamchuri is the flagship branch of the Water Library Hospitality Group. The eclectic menu has been the talk of Bangkok foodies. When I mentioned to a couple of local friends that I was going to have dinner, they said, "Lucky you! You're in for a treat!"
Water Library is not the kind of restaurant you would expect to find in a shopping mall. It is also not the kind of restaurant you would expect to be part of a chain, but it is located in a shopping mall and it is part of a chain.
After getting lost in the sprawling Chamchuri Square shopping in Bangkok's Pathum Wan district, my dining companion and I arrived late. But it didn't seem to matter.
We were warmly greeted at the entrance and ushered into a stylish interior that seemed far removed from the shopping mall that we had gotten lost in.
Tables were arranged cylindrically around the bar, whose centerpiece was a towering display of bottles, which were dramatically lit from behind.
Contrary to what I was expecting, the bottles did not contain wine or spirits or any other kind of liquor. Instead, they contained various kinds of water - hence the name, Water Library.
I couldn't help but wonder if different kinds of water would be paired with each course. But they weren't. We were simply asked which type we would like to be served with dinner. I followed the maitre d's recommendation.
After being seated, we had an informative chat with Chef Mirco Keller, who joined the Water Library Hospitality Group in 2011.
After exchanging pleasantries, my first question was, predictably enough, "What type of food do you serve?"
Based on the stylish surroundings, I was expecting to hear something like continental or fusion or (shudder) molecular.
Instead, Chef Micro simply said, "I serve the kind of food I like to eat."
I assumed that would mean "comfort food", but I was wrong.
The thoughtful dinner menu was thoughtfully simple. There were four cold starters, four hot starters, three main courses from the sea, four main courses from the land, and five desserts. That's the way I like it: a few yummy choices rather than an encyclopedic tome that confuses rather than entices.
Chef Mirco suggested we try the tasting menu, which would give us a good overview of the restaurant's culinary style. It was paired with champagne followed by two glasses of wine.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. My dining companion was Kaos Lam, a food blogger from Hong Kong.
Amuse Bouche - Tomato Mozzarella with burrta cheese and tomato chutney as well as cold gazpacho soup.
Snack - a little welcome.
Prawn Sashimi - Botan Ebi sashimi , beetroot, wasabi, and Parmesan.
Caviar - royal oscietra caviar, oyster veloute, roasted onion, granny smith apple.
Pork - Berkshire pork belly, green pea dumplings, and ginger.
Refreshment - smoothie, aloe vera, and smoked milk.
Fish - Japanese kinmedai, sauce ravigote, and Jerusalem artichoke.
Pigeon - Bresse pigeon, dashi, mustard, and daikon.
Sweets - chocolate, meringe, and yoghurt.
Petiti Fours - a selection of homemade sweet treats.
We were served a Goutorbe-Bouillot NV Carte d'Or Brut (Champagne) with our amuse bouche., prawn sashimi, and caviar.
When the pork dish arrived, the maitre d' suggested a 2011 vintage Pinoit Noir from Planet Oregon.
We were served a 2014 vintage Shiraz from South Australia with our dessert.
Our mouth-watering dessert was served with a choice of coffee or Water Library tea blends. I opted for a double espresso.
The first Water Library outlet opened in 2009 at Chamchuri Square, and office and residential complex with a podium housing a shopping mall.
There are currently six dining outlets in Bangkok, including two brasseries, a gastro pub, a pizzeria, and a Japanese restaurant serving yakitori and ramen.
The Water Library Hospitality Group has also launched outlets in in Myanmar. Another 10 restaurants and hotels are under development in Myanmar and Thailand.
The food was innovative, flavourful, and light, with both Asian and European influences. It was beautifully plated and elegantly presented.
I particularly liked the Berkshire pork belly, which was served with green pea dumplings and ginger. The pork was tender with a slightly crunchy finish.
The green pea dumplings with ginger were a pleasant surprise - definite shades of East meets West.
I loved the stylish surroundings, which were contemporary yet classic - simple white tablecloths with a small vase of purple flowers on each table.
The arrangement of the tables was especially nice - a single row, with each table next to the floor to ceiling windows on one side and the bar on the other. This lent an unmistakable sense of privacy.
The service was impeccable. The maitre d' was informative but non-obtrusive, knowledgeably explaining dishes when asked.
Overall, a very pleasant dining experience with a fascinating progression of varied and innovative dishes, ending with some very decadent desserts, which were beautifully presented - a bit like afternoon tea at a five-star hotel.
Water Library Chamchuri Square - Level 2, Chamchuri Square, Rama IX Road, Bangkok, Thailand. Telephone: +66 (0) 2 160-5188.