Siam Paragon, Bangkok’s most popular and most upscale mall is home to many restaurants but few are as popular as Vanilla Brasserie. Tucked away in the basement level of the mall, Vanilla Brasserie is way at the back down a small side aisle and in the company of several other exclusive restaurants. Vanilla though, is special. It serves European and American food, has an elegant yet relaxed decor, friendly staff and is always absolutely packed for both lunch and dinner, with people lined up at the door. In fact, out of more than 100 restaurants at Siam Paragon, Vanilla is always in the top ten, and for good reason.
The Decor – Vanilla is designed to look like a typical French brasserie. Dark wood furniture and booths, and an even darker wood counter area stuffed with meats, cheeses, breads and scrumptious desserts, Vanilla makes you feel like you should be in Paris. But, when you look out of the large floor to ceiling windows and into lush Bangkok greenery, it’s definitely still Thailand. The atmosphere at Vanilla is elegant but cozy and casual enough you can wear jeans and not feel out of place.
The Food – The interesting thing about Vanilla to me is the drinks menu is as large as the food menu, and that’s big enough.
Starting out with appetizers like fried calamari or baked potato with a Mexican sauce, the next choice on the menu is a section from at least 12 homemade and simply delicious soups (the shrimp bisque is to die for). A large salad selection follows (the Caesar is yummy) followed by burgers, fish and chips, a huge section of pastas, panini sandwiches and lots more. Desserts too are decadent with creme brulee alongside chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, and apple pie and ice cream.
I ate again at Vanilla today and, this time, tried the cheeseburger and fries. Absolutely perfectly cooked, the burger was juicy and flavorful and on a soft, springy bun stuffed with sauteed onions and crisp Romano lettuce. The french fries were crunchy and piping hot. The friends I ate with ordered the fish and chips (which one declared were the best she’d ever eaten) and shrimp bisque and a chicken caesar paninin sandwich. For refreshments, one friend and I had the homemade lemonade, which was incredible, and the other had a strawberry shake.
Prices – For the quality, flavor and freshness of the food, Vanilla Brasserie is a hard place to beat. Appetizers begin at 120-150 baht ($3.50-$5.00), soups are 180 baht ($4) for a large bowl and most entrees between 230 and 300 baht ($7.50-$9.95). For 500 baht ($16.50), you can enjoy an appetizer, entree, dessert and drink and adore every single thing you eat. Expensive for Bangkok standards, but not for what you get.
When you consider you’re eating in an extremely upscale restaurant that serves tasty food and in large portions, it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to see why Vanilla always has a line of people waiting for a table.
Vanilla Brasserie is one of those rare western cuisine restaurants that not only serves food that looks like western food, it tastes like it too. With so many Thai chefs in Bangkok unable to make western food that tastes as it should, Vanilla is such a rare treat I just keep going back and back.
Vanilla Brasserie’s flagship restaurant is the one at Siam Paragon, but there are three or four other locations dotted around Bangkok too.