CHAR BANGKOK @ As Char As It Gets

Perched atop the 25th floor on the bustling Wireless Road, CHAR Restaurant at 
Hotel Indigo Bangkok does its take on steak with a point of difference, mylifestylenews writes. 

CHAR Restaurant and Bar takes up the top two stories with a modern vibe dining room downstairs and the rooftop bar up above. The 60-seater “thrill of the grill” offers one of the city’s most stunning skyline views along the Embassy Row especially for those who fancy the urban sunset countdown on the open air rooftop bar - one floor up from the restaurant, over the intimate happy and magic hours.

The ambience is buzzing and cool, modern light fittings and elegant settings that are 
mixed between banquettes and booths dining (more like a floor to ceiling cubical section dining) and some free-standing dining tables. The large format mural on the wall takes centre stage of the main dining room, representing Thai musicians and with a nod to the art deco style which adds some real good vibrant and colorful vibes to the semi-formal dining room, together with a private dining room that sits up to 24 people. Tabletops are minimalist, not overly fussy in a relaxing atmosphere, so the focus can be on the food.

CHAR Restaurant in Bangkok is helmed by the Mexican-born Chef de Cuisine, Jaime Rojas and given his Latin American background and his cooking on a number of continents which has informed his style, the menu creation is with a twist that is partly inspired by his travels. His thought process is, if you are all about the produce, then it can be one dimensional, so this menu is wide-ranging, offering a wonderful array of dishes, it is not just about steak!

As it touts itself as a “The Master of The Grill” contemporary grill from succulent steaks to seafood feasts with global flavours, the menu is very chef driven and strives to deliver that vibrant engaging cuisine and it dips its hat to the original CHAR restaurant at the Hotel Indigo Shanghai on The Bund, but with a more open approach to produce.  Now while we appreciate being surprised by menus that do not follow the expected path, but as the expression goes, “there is something for everyone”. CHAR traditionally offers all guests homemade oregano focaccia bread and an amuse bouche, which was pistachio bruschetta on our visit. Tasty, but nothing surprising.

<Panzanella Salad>
This salad emanates from Tuscany and Umbria that has chopped ingredients with soaked stale bread, onions and tomatoes. This popular summer style garden salad was somewhat refreshing due to the simplicity of ingredients, but it seemed too overdressed, leaving the salad leaves very ‘wet’ and soggy on our serving. Not quite a great start!

<Caribbean Jumbo Crab Cake>
Beautifully presented on a dark stoneware. This was not what we were expecting to see on the menu but worth a go, the crab cake is perfectly fried and crispy on the outside, moist and steamy hot inside. The colourful dish is rather inviting with a pleasant combination of flavours, at least visionary attractive, served with a timbale of rocket salad placed on top with julienned radish which is a refreshing touch, as well as accompanying round splashes of chili aioli and mango salsa which was a bit dominating, but will be enjoyed by those gastronomes that like a little more heat.

<Grilled Octopus>
This dish is usually one of our favourites, at least over the past dining experiences in man other restaurants but somehow this was not our night. A whole not so large char-grilled octopus tentacle cut into pieces was sat on a bed of mash potatoes, accompanied with baby potatoes, chorizo, edamame, burnt garlic aioli and salsa verde. The presentation looked amazing, but the octopus was almost inedible, as it was so overcooked and char-grilled within an inch of its life - very dry and tough to cut, although its flavour held some promise. Being one of the CHAR’s signatures, not impressive at all and we had to send it back to the kitchen.

<Wagyu Beef Tenderloin>
The beef is served on its own on a plate with a small bowl of the three peppercorn sauce we opted for, additional fries and creamy spinach order, which would give an alternative bonus flavour to the beef. The beef looked great, but on further inspection it was more rare than medium rare as per order taken and with difficulties to cut through the meat even with the sharp steak knife. On successfully cutting a piece of beef, we found it was too grainy and sinewy, thus rather disappointing and under-whelming, as this is another of CHAR’s signature dishes that shall be a highlight especially when you are in a restaurant that is specialized in char-grilled. So a second dish that was sent back to the kitchen.

<Strawberry Shortcake>
While the entrées didn’t make it to the top of the chart, the strawberry shortcake served with whipped cream, fresh strawberries and syrup was presented in a slightly deconstructed presentation yet tasted delightful. This was delicious and beautiful in presentation, but beware the shortcake is quite filling and a large portion, but for dessert aficionados, this will hit the spot!

<Polenta Corncake>
One of us is not a fan of polenta but this dessert piqued our interest at the get go and we were not disappointed. The polenta cake is served with dulce de Leche - a milk confection, caramelized bacon and coffee ice cream. The generous serving and a number of different flavours were there to enjoy as it was served two ways - one part not overly sweet and simple in construction and the other part very sweet with the chocolate drizzled popcorn. The caramelized bacon is a touch of genius!

The evening was not entirely successful but dessert was faultless on all counts. The reason for visiting CHAR Restaurant was for steak, among other menu items and we were not able to enjoy both our main courses which resulted in a very disappointing evening. While passion is the main ingredient in crafting their storied dishes, we could not get over the missteps from the kitchen. The culinary team need to look into their final outcome as it is all about knowing the produce provenance and ensuring the cooking process is on point. Food speaks volumes, but at least the restaurant location and ambience ticked some boxes and the elevated vista with the almost uninterrupted views out to the Bangkok skyline speaks more than the food was there to enjoy.

Tried & Tested:
Location: 4.5/5
Design & Decor: 4/5
Food & Beverage: 3/5
Service: 3/5
Value For Money: 2.5/5
Experience: 3/5

CHAR Bangkok
25th & 26th Floor,
Hotel Indigo Bangkok,
81 Wireless Road,
Lumphini, Pathum Wan,
Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: +66 2 207 4999

Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.

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