You don’t go to fine dining restaurants for the food, you go for the experience. There’s a limit to the level of euphoria produced by taste alone, and great restaurants know this. But striking presentation, flawless service and immersive décor aren’t enough anymore. Bangkok is a city saturated with good food, and restaurants all over the city are forced to play to the same tune: wow your audience or fade into obscurity.
Tables Grill, the Grand Hyatt Erawan’s fine dining flagship, isn’t immune to the pressures of the city’s culinary landscape. The six-year-old European grill is looking to snag a bigger piece of the local dining scene with a completely overhauled menu and revamped tableside cooking concept that stands distinct among Bangkok’s dining giants.
The man leading this charge is the restaurant’s new chef de cuisine, Kevin Saint-Jean Kristensen, a 29-year-old Dane with a hefty amount of Michelin-star experience for a cook his age, and more culinary ideas than he knows what to do with.
The new menu is full of delightful food combinations that can’t be found anywhere else, such as the strawberry ice cream with beetroot, rose petals and rye bread crumble. An unlikely grouping, the dessert is a stunning meld of sweet and savoury that will dance in your memory for a long time – just like most of the experience at Tables.
But he’s not just replacing the menu, Chef Kevin is changing the way Tables Grill approaches food entirely. He has moved the kitchen towards a completely sustainable food model by forging relationships with local organic farmers outside Bangkok, importing sustainable seafood and building an herbal garden on hotel grounds. It’s an approach that echoes the “New Nordic Cuisine” movement sweeping Europe recently, which Kevin, as a Nordic chef, is quite fond – and it shows in his food.
From the fragrant seared sea bream with asparagus and green pea puree to the hearty lamb loin with pumpkin smash and grilled baby sweet corn, every bite is full of rich, distinct and natural flavours that will make you reach for another forkful before the first one is done.
It’s not just the food, the restaurant’s tableside tradition got a kick in the pants as well. Its new presentation style features all the flashy displays you expect from dinner theatre, but in a much more immersive way.
Customers truly feel like they are sitting in the kitchen. Junior chefs regularly pop in and out to discuss daily duties with Chef Kevin, who provides them with live cooking guidance, answers customers’ questions and even allows guests get their hands dirty if they like. It’s an incredible opportunity for common folk to see the inner workings of a kitchen that hasn’t been tainted by Hollywood scripts.
With that said, there is still enough traditional tableside theatrics to elicit that aforementioned “wow”. The restaurant’s new liquid nitrogen vanilla and cognac ice cream is an explosive display, with nitrogen fog enveloping the cooking station as the runny sorbet mixture transforms to an icy delight in less than 60 seconds. The result is a smooth and silky ice cream complimented perfectly by fresh blackberries that burst in the mouth like pearls of caviar. It’s a jaw-dropping spectacle with a divine finish.
A meal at the new Tables Grill is an experience that is greater than the sum of its parts. It goes beyond good taste and opens a window into the culinary world that most have only seen on TV. Chef Kevin says he wants Tables to be one of Bangkok’s top 10 restaurants by the time he is done, and, if this new concept is any indication, he might get it there sooner rather than later.