This has to be unique. FOUR SEASONS BANGKOK AT CHAO PHRAYA RIVER has Saturday Secrets of Social Club tastings, free for hotel guests. Book ahead for tutored introductions to the history and brand Buenos Aires. Social Club is the hotel’s destination bar, a gathering place for those who know. Thanks to the concept, the AvroKO design and the charm and knowledge of mixologist Philip Bischoff, this is a place not to be missed. Bischoff, seen above behind hotel GM and RVP Lubosh Barta, is himself a bit of a wunderkind, an East Berliner who diverted from business management to the business of booze, at luxury level of course.
Girlahead took his Secrets session. In half an hour he enthused about Argentina’s allure was so similar to Bangkok of today, exciting, alluring and quality. The tasting tray held three glasses, Bischoff desingned and made in Barta’s homeland, Czech Republic. First, try a small tumbler of La Pampa, named for the apiarist-happy province near Buenos Aires – Apostoles Gin, Eucalyptus honey and citrus. Next, a coupe held Evita, a Negroni-like concoction of Plantation Pineapple Rum, Campari, Aperol, citrus, a bay leaf and cinnamon. Final tumbler was Hand of God, in honour of Diego Maradona’s 1986 World Cup goal – Ocho Reposado Tequila, Campari, Cacao Malbec wine cordial and a gigantic ice cube bearing a raised football shape and a hand. There was also, for good measure, a fourth tray delight, a chocolate edible.
It’s possible to enthuse ad infinitum about this gorgeous urban resort, right on the river, but Saturday’s food day so let’s stick to that for now (Jean-Michel Gathy and bedrooms, and spa and more, will follow). There are two other food personalities at Four Seasons Bangkok. One is the aforementioned Lubosh Barta, a boss who takes a minute interest in the complex’s eating and drinking that is far above industry par. Well, he says, he comes from five generations of hoteliers and restaurateurs and if he couldn’t play football for a career he wanted, as a boy, to be a chef. He then came up the professional ladder via ‘F&B’.
The other star player here is the hotel’s Executive Chef Andrea Accordi, a Gentleman of Verona who couldn’t choose between opera or the oven – he still sings when he cooks. Wow, he was the first-ever Michelin-starred chef in Eastern Europe, and Barta, who had worked with him before, lured him to Bangkok from Four Seasons Hong Kong. He now oversees Chinese, French, Italian and Thai restaurants, and restaurant-style ‘events’ that are so gourmet that at the last many-hundreds wedding two guests separately immediately booked Four Seasons for their own forthcoming nuptials.
Take the Italian, Riva Del Fiume Ristorante. The cream leather menu is versatile, and easy to read. Glasses, from Bavaria’s Spiegelau, held first small amounts of a Sicilian Pinot Noir, Piettradolce Etna Rosso 2020, and then a Chianti, Querciabella 2017. The dark green Donnafugata olive oil, another Sicilian special, was so addictive it was almost drinkable – the server supplemented the very-moreish breads, all home-made, with a Schiacciata, a polenta and potato loaf topped with pesto and pancetta.
OK, what about the basic food? It was nonstop. Crudi di Mare, three large-bites on a mega-plate, seabream with a green and cream pouring sauce, and two different tunas. Pasta was not opt-out. Half a portion resulted in four tortellini filled with braised meats and mortadella, and the last black truffle shaved over. Main course had to be Manza Mayura, showcasing Australian wagyu cattle fed on chocolate: two finger-sized slabs of oyster blade were escorted by one-per-plate a baby carrot, a potato cube and the first of the season specialty mushroom. (At that, the table gave up – no space for Tirimisu and Accordi’s Limoncello.)
Every hotel chef not only has to oversee all restaurants but do breakfast too. Sure enough, our versatile Verona-guy was patrolling Riva by 7.25 a.m. His eagle eye noted the buffet, in a separate room, had all labels correct and breads were in military array, ready for the breakfast battle. Chefs were ready to cook Chinese, Thai or Western, to order. While Accordi was working the pizza oven, preparing a Pizza-egg – his own invention, a small pizza topped with back bacon and a poached egg – a colleague brought a requested cappuccino, a flower shape on top. The sour dough bettered anything in San Francisco, the yoghurts were all Thai. OK, chef, what did YOU have for breakfast? A single espresso, he smiled.
And, as the Four Seasons’ elite prepare for a global conference in Athens, let’s listen to Global President Christian Clerc: