What does fine dining mean to you?
Usually, it’s an indicator of a restaurant’s use of high quality ingredients, sophisticated cooking techniques and artful presentation. There are defined courses, suggested wine pairings and often a tasting menu for those into their molecular cuisine.
The atmosphere of such an establishment should be on the cusp of buzzing without delving into ‘raucous’ territory: calm enough to hold a conversation but with enough murmur and conviviality so as to not feel self-conscious. Waiters and hostesses are eloquent, courteous and, above all, attentive.
To the matter at hand, then: Seed.
Parked in the spot on Soi Prom Chit (between sois 33 and 39) where The Library used to be, from the outside Seed looks like a classic international restaurant offering in Bangkok. This could easily be another Harvest or Roast from its contemporary, quirky design.
Inside the restaurant tells the same story: it’s all exposed brickwork and hanging baskets, open spaces and low tables.
It’s friendly, laid back and decidedly unpretentious – ‘fine dining’ restaurant this ain’t.
We found ourselves on the doorsteps of Seed on a quiet Saturday night without really knowing what to expect. Even though the long weekend had seen Bangkok more or less totally empty of its inhabitants, the restaurant was still enjoying a quiet thrum with a number of tables occupied by either couples or small parties.
We nibbled our way through the lightest loaf of bread and creamiest of garlic butters as we took in the menu. It’s deliberately short, focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients and apparent mastery of the dishes at hand. There’s a distinct European backstory to every dish – notably French – and the odd Southeast Asian sprinkle and flash of Japan here and there.
To start, we opted for the Crispy Tofu with a foie gras and shiitake mushroom emulsion, sprinkled with crispy leek, and a Beetroot Tart with walnuts, olive oil and rocket.
The tofu was a particular highlight of the meal: deliciously silky with a crispy, caramelised exterior contrasting with the curly shards of leek atop. It sat in the richest of mushroom emulsions, helped along no doubt by the dash of foie gras.
The tart was equally delicious – if a little lighter – with succulent beet slices and peppery rocket alongside a satisfyingly crunchy pastry.
Next up was the Crispy Salmon; almost Japanese in its formidable execution with a generous helping of braised cabbage, maitake mushrooms and a glistening red wine jus.
Finally, the Tortellini of Spinach sealed the deal on Seed’s exquisite culinary showcase. The pasta was fresh and al dente, the spinach rich and creamy in texture. Topped with a brown butter sauce and shavings of grana padano, vegetarians at Seed are served just as indulgently as the meat-eating clientele.
Meringues, fondants and tarte tatins run rampant within the Dessert Menu but the richness of our savoury dishes certainly put paid to any more courses as we finished the meal totally sated. Wine selection and affordability here is also excellent and probably worth going for alone.
Upon a little research, it was clear that we should have been more confident in Seed’s culinary prowess from the start. Head Chef is Singaporean-born and Raffles trained Haikal Johari – the master behind Bangkok’s Water Library.
We recommend Seed unreservedly. It’s the hottest spot in town right now for – if not strictly fine dining – a showcase in the best of experimental, international gastronomy that Bangkok has to offer.
Prices are also reasonable with appetisers starting at ฿270 and mains from ฿390.
Seed: a Bangkok lesson in fine dining.