Restaurant Review : Roast on Thonglo

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The Roast is a cafe/bistro located on Thonglo Soi 13–just south of J Avenue in the SeenSpace13 Lifestyle Mall. From Thonglo, you turn down Soi 13, drive about 50 meters and it is on the left. There is valet parking which costs 10 baht with a stamped receipt. The Roast is on the2nd floor.

There are a couple of things which make The Roast worth adding to your personal list of regularly visited restaurants.

First, is the actual space. The tables are widely spaced, the ceilings are high, and the music volume is at just the right level to allow easy conversation. The walls are glass, the air conditioning cools adequately and the ambiance is pleasant and inviting. The owner is clearly at the controls making sure the environment is just right for the type of place he envisions.

During the day, there is plenty of eye candy–if you consider gaggles of middle aged Japanese housewives nattering away attractive.

I do.

These are all wives of high or mid-level Japanese executives stationed in Thailand.  They are mostly refined, cultured, and antiseptically clean. Women  who have spent their lives watching their weight, staying out of the sun, taking care of their skin, and using their clock cycles figuring out how to dress modestly but elegantly.

It’s a welcome change from the Frankenstein freak show of over-enlarged breast enhancements, obvious nose jobs, and weekly botox shots that is common in Los Angeles these days.

To pass the time, you can sharpen your people reading skills by discerning which husbands rank higher in the corporate hierarchy by observing the interaction between their wives.

Second, is the coffee. Beans are ground and roasted on the premises and there is a wide selection of grinds. My personal taste is the lighter roasts that have a mellow smooth quality-where the taste comes from the oils and aromatics of the bean not the carbon from burning. The harsh over roasted burnt but ever popular Starbucks style coffee is not my cup of tea. Cream and sugar only mask the underlying bitterness. Count me more of an Au Bon Pan or Coffee Bean (do they have these in Thailand?) man.

The Americano I had at The Roast was superb. A very strong taste but not bitter and when lightened with some milk and a couple of equals, it was sweet smooth and packed a powerful caffeine kick–the best cuppa I’ve had in Thailand this summer.

Finally, there is the food.

The food is made with fresh ingredients and original recipes with strong and not subtle tastes. There is no complexity to the tastes. Just the bite of fresh ingredients.

This is the New England Clam Chowder. I rarely order this in Los Angeles because 99% of the time it is made from commercial mix reconstituted in a large pot with boiling water. The uniformly sized potatoes, dried vegetables, and the consistency and taste is always a giveaway to chowder from a bag.

The Roast’s chowder is made fresh. It has a strong heady broth where the taste of the clams overpowers the other ingredients and the broth is a bit fishy. My serving was likely made verbatim from a recipe by a cook not a chef who failed to adjusted the mix for the peculiarities of the day’s ingredients.

Not perfect but sill tasty.

Every visit to The Roast, I’d like to order this chowder and enjoy the uncertainty of what I get, knowing that one day the mix will be perfect, the tastes will be in perfect harmony, and the chowder divine.

Here are three pastas- the Truffle Fettuccine, Penne with sausage, and Spaghetti Bolognese.

These were sprinkled with fresh herbs which tended to overpower the other ingredients.

Besides this fault, everything else about this trio was excellent. The truffle sauce was creamy with delightful tiny mushrooms mixed in. The tomato sauce was made with flavorful tomatoes with just the right amount of sweetness. The pasta was cooked to perfection with just the right amount of hardness.

It was nice to be in Bangkok where service size was normal. I am so tired of ordering spaghetti for one and getting enough for a family which is common, especially in the big chains, in America.

Overall, The Roast is a wonderful place to hang out. Drop in just for coffee and a pastry, stroll by in the morning for coffee and  breakfast, or have dinner with friends in an atmosphere where the food is good and you can sit for hours catching up on everyone’s lives.


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