The extensive menu at Lady L garden bistro could almost be described as the travel history of the Sampatisiri family. The restaurant is named in honour of Thanpuying Lursakdi Sampatisiri, the only child of Nai Lert Sreshthaputra—a pioneering entrepreneur of early 20th century Thailand—and his wife Khunying Sinn.
A child of destiny and an accomplished hotelier and businesswoman in her own right, Thanpuying Lursakdi became the first woman to hold a cabinet post in Thailand, serving as transport minister in 1976. Cultured and well travelled, she loved Western food and on returning from trips to Europe she would ask the family’s private chef to re-create meals she’d enjoyed in some of the best restaurants in Paris, Rome and London. The habit continued down the years with other members of the family adding their favourite home-style European dishes to a list that has essentially become the core menu at Lady L.
The restaurant, which opened in January of this year, is light and airy and split between a marble-floored dining room and a glasshousestyle atrium. The dining room has floor to ceiling windows and two huge portraits of the elegant Lady L herself. The atrium is dominated by a rain tree and lots of hanging plants, hence the garden bistro epithet. It is a fine spot for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea from the deli-style counter and dinner à deux or with family and friends.
Executive chef Parinya Somkwamkit oversees an extensive menu that includes breakfast options (the restaurant opens at 9am) such as a full English fry-up, a New York bacon and pancake breakfast, assorted cold cuts and cheese al la Milano, and croissants, ham and cheese in the Parisian style. Various pastas, pizzas, burgers and sandwiches are also available.
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A particularly good starter is creamy deepfried camembert with a tart-sweet cranberry sauce. Alternatively, if you prefer soup as an opener, try rich crab bisque. Served piping hot under a dome of flaky pastry, the briny reduction has all the tanginess of the sea. Also good is moules mariniere, a particular favourite of Thanpuying Lursakdi, made with plump Irish mussels in a white wine sauce.
Two salad dishes come highly recommended. The first comprises Parma ham, mozzarella, nectarines and figs—Lady L’s sophisticated twist on prosciutto e melone. It offers a vibrant mix of fresh flavours as well as a visual treat. The second is a classic Cobb salad. Big enough for two, it comprises tender chicken breast, crispy bacon, boiled egg, avocado, tomato and blue cheese.
Many of the main course dishes are also designed for sharing, such as a superb beef Wellington made with Australian tenderloin brushed with foie-gras pate and jacketed in golden pastry. Whole roasted baby chicken with sautéed carrots and roasted potatoes is also deeply satisfying. Sourced from a freerange farm in Kanachanaburi, the chickens are raised on a special diet of mixed herbs, which gives them a unique flavour.
The dessert menu is a list of classics including crêpes Suzette, cream caramel, baked Alaska, crème brûlée and peach Melba, but do try one of the ‘cronuts’ made with croissant pastry but shaped like a donut and deep-fried. They feature sweet creamy fillings and toppings such as coconut and pistachio and cookies and cream, although these change from month to month.
In a further nod to family history, a series of signature cocktails pay homage to Thanpuying Lursakdi and to Nai Lert and his pioneering businesses, including the White Bus 101, a heady paean of praise to Bangkok’s first public bus service. The restaurant also has a good wine list comprising Old and New World labels at reasonable prices.
A final suggestion…take some time for a digestive stroll through the park behind the restaurant where you’ll find Nai Lert’s original home. The 100-year-old house is well worth a postprandial saunter through history.
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