Mediterranean seafood in a setting that evokes French holiday homes.
From the comforts of an old house down a leafy Narathiwat soi, chef Martine Pailloux scrupulously turns out high-end Mediterranean cuisine that has French expats going gaga. The menu is packed top-to-bottom with premium imported French and Spanish seafood to go into dishes like a classic lobster soup (complete with plump strips of lobster claw).
Tucked mid-way down Narathiwat Soi 15, a quaint, slender road just outside the reach of Chong Nonsi’s bustling epicenter, Le Cabanon brings promises of high-end Mediterranean cuisine in the comforts of an old-house-turned-restaurant. The interior’s blue and white tones paired with dark wood, folding front doors, canvased deck chairs and crisp white table cloths evokes high-end holiday homes in the French coastal town of Cap Ferret.
To that end, you definitely won’t see Le Cabanon in any “Going Local” round-ups in the foreseeable future. Its menu is packed top-to-bottom with the finest imported French and Spanish seafood—according to the chef, about 90 percent of the restaurant’s ingredients are imported. A cursory scan of the menu reveals dishes like Brittany lobster thermidor (B3,900/kg), wild imperial sea bass with fennel (B1,250) and Belon oysters (B1,250/6pcs). The building sits just outside the 300-meter radius of a nearby university, so there’s also some decent firepower in the wine armory—from pricey Cote Rotie Domaine Georges 2014 (B4,850/bottle) to very reasonable by-the-glass options (B300).
It likely costs an ungodly amount of money to keep this level of produce streaming in every week, but don’t expect to have your expectations redefined with Suhring-style creativity—the menu plays it a little safe. That’s not a knock against the skill on display here. Nearly everything we tried was flawlessly prepared.
Starters like the foie gras ravioli (packed inside fresh pasta with a thin blanket of delicate cream sauce, B720) and classic lobster soup (with plump, melt-in-your-mouth strips of lobster claw, B690) are about as indulgent as you can get without crossing the line. Mains follow the same script: immaculately prepared using great ingredients, but, if anything, a little basic. The roasted duck breast (B680) is moist, tender and well-seasoned with subtle chili espelette, but is served with little more than a heaping pile of, admittedly delicious, garlic mashed potatoes. The red mullet (B980), with tapenade and mixed vegetables, has a delightfully springy and crisp skin with soft, flaky flesh that’s about as well-cooked as any fish we’ve tried.
But, at these prices, quality ingredients and immaculate cooking technique aren’t enough to make dishes stand out against Bangkok’s fine-dining heavyweights. Le Cabanon has everything on paper to be one of the city’s elite-level restaurants, but it needs to push the envelope a little if it hopes to reach that lofty altitude.
This review took place in November 2017 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.