Jennifer Gampell
868/75-76 Soi Vanich 2
Songwad Road
Bangkok 10100 Thailand
Tel/Fax: (66) 02-237-3362
Mobilex: (66) 01-925-7187
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May 24, 1999

Detour: Eating at Home
by Jennifer Gampell

In good times or bad, dining out is as much a part of Bangkok life as the traffic. Lax enforcement of zoning laws and a residential property glut have inspired enterprising restaurateurs to turn empty homes on obscure residential blocks into innovative eateries. Le Café Siam is run by two French businessmen who have meticulously restored a European-style mansion built in 1921 for the director of State Railway of Thailand. Warehouses have replaced the surrounding rice paddies and a freeway overpass obscures the view of the Chao Praya river, but the restaurant still evokes the peaceful Bangkok of yesteryear. Downstairs, guests dine on Thai and French specialties, while upstairs they can sip drinks, recline on raw silk-covered sofas and listen to mellow jazz. Since everything here--from the cutlery and furniture to the antique reproductions and collectibles--is for sale, acquisitive visitors can recreate a slice of old Bangkok in their own homes.

Another epicurean find is the Pickle Factory, an unpretentious bakery-restaurant that serves homemade pizza, pasta and desserts (including the best Key Lime pie in Bangkok). Located on tiny residential Soi Rajavithee, near the Victory Monument, the pink stucco building was originally a Miami-style Art Deco home. Its cozy surroundings include an outdoor patio and a swimming pool. Jeff Fehr, the American owner, has redesigned the Pickle Factory's kitchen so that diners can watch him create his wondrous, flaky thin-crust pizzas. The pies are also available for delivery, and Fehr's mouthwatering baked goods and famed pickles may similarly be taken away to enjoy in the comfort of your home--or hotel room. (Le Café Siam is at 4 Soi Sri Akson, tel. 662-671-0030; the Pickle Factory is located at 55 Soi Rajavithee 2, tel. 246-3036).


Copyright 2002 Jennifer Gampell