Sunday, July 8, 2012

Coffee Shops in Bangkok: Part Two - Kuppa

Sukhumvit Soi 16
Grade: 4 out of 10

It's listed in the Lonely Planet which is always mixed. Everyone knows this place.

Food and Coffee: The food at Kuppa can be really wonderful -and sometimes its just overpriced. I've eaten there several times and the best time was with my friend Tirana. We had a succulent Duck and Mandarin Orange salad with a tarragon viniagrette, Softshell Crab on a bed of daikon and carrots, and rice noodle rolls with mango and red pepper. Other times, it can be a bit hit or miss. A week later, I ordered the same Duck salad and they forgot to dress it. I had a chocolate milkshake which was chocolate powder, some milk, and crushed ice (yuk!). The coffee is nothing spectacular although they have their own roaster. The pizzas can be good. I have ordered white wine by the glass and it was lukewarm. However they have a dessert called a boom boom that is fantastic - a creamcheese brownie. Hit or miss.

Style: High soaring Loft ceilings, comfy leather couches, real artwork on the walls and a "artist's touch" - its a nice place to hang out. Its big and airy.

Ambience: the service is... "indifferent". The waiters are charming enough but they don't have to try. You can tell this is a hi-so restaurant that has been catering to business men and others for a long time. The last three times I've been there, I've had to ask them to please clean my table as it still had food and water spills on it. You must always flag down your waiter and ask for "extras" like salt and pepper. There are often big groups of "ladies who lunch" during the day and on the weekends, expats like to bring their children who run everywhere. Its not relaxing, nor is it conducive to working.

Overall:  A nice place to go when you've had enough of Asian food and need something "western-y" but for the cost, the service and food should be better. Still a lovely venue.

Coffee Shops in Bangkok: Part Four -Library Cafe 24

Coffee break at Li-bra-ry
Sukhumvit Soi 24,  2 soi metheenivet
02 259 2878
Grade: 7 out of 10

This weekend, I have found myself lethargic and lonely in Bangkok - maybe too much noodles and rice and not enough exercise. The famous heat here makes it difficult to get motivated to go outside and walk. But yet, this is a walker's city. You miss all the interesting things if you just zoom by on the back of a motorbike. So today, to shake off the blahs and get some exercise and my blood pumping, I decided to just walk until I found a place that pleased me to stop for lunch. I walked about 8 sois up from where I live and ended up on Soi 24. I have a friend who lives at the end of the soi but she's traveling now but I had never walked it. The heat was not too bad so I decided to explore. I ended up here in Library 24, a very cute Japanese coffeeshop that may end up being a favorite for weekday working.

Food and Coffee: The coffee is strong and served in nice mugs and the desserts look normal but uninspiring. I ordered "hong kong noodles" as it was lunchtime and I was hungry but the food was rather uninspiring. Bland vermicelli with chunks of chicken thigh in a pasty sauce with little flavor. 

Style: Blond scandinavian furniture, tasteful taupes and browns and pastels, easy listening guy and guitar music with a hint of the ubiquitous lounge music that I am growing to dislike in Bangkok, a beautiful open book case with lots of books to read while hanging out in the coffeeshop, including a selection of Lonely Planets to plan your next trip, and two stories (no shoes on the top floor), with the polished concrete floor and the open exposed wood beams above the coffee bar, its a lovely light place to hang out. There is also a small garden. The upstairs is "Japanese style" which means that you must take off your shoes. This is a bit confusing as the toilet is also upstairs and who wants to go into a toilet barefoot (except Britney Spears). But there is a basket with a pair of slippers there. The upstairs is with small mats on the floor to sit and enjoy the low tables. It overlooks the cafe and has a lot of windows. Very lovely.

Ambience: I was there on a Sunday afternoon and it was filled with both lovely Thai people sitting silently next to each other with their iPads and with Japanese families coming in for some coffee with their parents. There were 7 people behind the counter shouting "SawadeeKa" when you enter but you still have to pay and order at a counter. They deliver your coffee and foods but services was slow to clear my dirty dishes - they all sat gossiping with each other instead of looking at the customers. 

Overall:  For style and coffee - a 7+ but for just food, maybe a 3. With delicious food all over Bangkok, don't waste your time eating here.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Coffee Shops in Bangkok: Part Three - Little Spoon

Little Spoon Cafe
Asoke, Soi 3 in Sukhumvit, near Oceans Tower 2
Grade 7 out of 10

I've been to Little Spoon several times with my friend Carol who works across the street at the Oceans Tower 2 complex - a mammoth office building. Little Spoon is in a glassed corner above the din and busy street but somehow incorporating the garden elements of the Italian restaurant next door. 

Food and Coffee: The coffee is okay -nothing to write home about. I had an Iced Thai tea today that they normally serve with whipped cream. Its lacking the strength of the street teas I normally purchase but is inoffensive. The Ice Cream is very tasty with interesting flavors like banana and cheese, blue cheese, black sesame soy milk , normal strawberry and chocolate and Bannoffee. The desserts look delicious. 

Style: Blond scandinavian furniture, cute little neutral tone striped and polka dotted pillows, whimsical touches like an old sewing machine table and a rocking chair, and polished concrete floor - very nice, sweet, and somehow Asian while invoking Scandinavia for me. Relaxing, clean, and "cute". Someone reviewed it as Tokoyo "cutsie poo".They have some cute little things on the wall - a "Where the Wild Things Are" doll and some recipe books.

Ambience: Ubiquitous "lounge" music found in every upscale restaurant in Bangkok but heavier on Astrid Gilberto and bossa nova so today I'm happy with it. A bit "hipster" ish with cute bespectacled boys and short haired tomgirls working behind a counter who are giggling and flirting with each other. Strangely - no table service so you have to go pick up your coffee or ice cream yourself but they give you an adorable tray.

Overall:  Sweet little place in a busy rather humorless part of Bangkok. Good for a break. Nice to catch up with my friend when she can get a break. But I'm not sure I would make the effort to eat anything but dessert here. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Coffee Shops in Bangkok: Part One - The Coffee Alley

So I decided to revamp my blog a bit and start reviewing the restaurants and coffeeshops I've been frequenting since becoming a freelance consultant. Not that I think anyone is out there reading but I want to contribute to the dialogue out here and help some other poor Western consultant looking for that magical combo of style, comfort, wi-fi, good coffee, and ambience.

Coffee Alley
Sukhumvit Soi 16, Bangkok (Thailand) | tel: 02-2588300
Grade: 8 out of 10

Food and Coffee: American Breakfasts served all day long! Good strong coffee in lovely mugs. I had a latte and it did not disappoint. It was piping hot, not all foam, and tasty.

Style: Very cute decor - in a little house with a garden. Lots of tables and chairs and not too crowded at 3pm on a Thursday afternoon. Just a hop skip and a jump down Soi 16 near Asoke BTS stop and near Long Table bar. A very nice little garden but I was feeling a bit too humid and sweaty to sit outside and read. And I wanted hot coffee, not an iced coffee.

Ambience: Free Wifi. No annoying "lounge" music like most places. Friendly male staff. Free Bangkok Post to read.

Overall: Really a lovely and nice little cafe. They serve Thai food as well for lunch but I didn't try it. I will try to come back and have some.