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A Work in Progress: Roast Cafe

SeenSpace on Thong Lor Soi 13 is generating more buzz than any venue this side of Crystal Design Center. BonChon Chicken’s a hit, and with another bar from Thong Lor wunderkind Ashley Sutton, an imported beer house from a guy connected to HOBS, and a coffeehouse from the owner of Ohana café in the works, renting space here is a license to print money, right? Big Meech. Larry Hoover.

While the location next to J Avenue is prime, there is no such thing as a slam dunk in Bangkok. You have to pass the “cool” test or Bangkokians will pass you by. Look no further than Viva & Aviv, which was on the same block as J Avenue, played primarily funky Latin music, and even had good house wine. Or Curve. Or Tunnel. Or Renovate. All closed even though KohSpot heard their praises from our party posse. Whiskey Mist, your days may be numbered.

Brew, the beerhouse, isn’t open yet, Sutton’s Clouds is still trying to decide whether to go with that Kubrick vibe, so that leaves Roast, the new café with a Giesen W6 roaster and beans from Indonesia, Brazil, Panama, Ethiopia and Guatemala. Now all Roast needs are the coffee beans civets poop out in Vietnam for a complete set.

As mentioned above, Roast is run by the folks behind Ohana, so they know their way around a kitchen. Still in a soft opening, the restaurant has about 12 items on the menu, but KohSpot loves focused offerings if it means the staff prepares only excellent dishes.

The duck confit salad with warm barley and mushrooms (180 baht) was a great start, with balsamic vinegar adding a kick to the tender meat and crispy skin. The sirloin burger with tomato marmalade and blue cheese (380 baht) does feature fantastic quality meat, but the marmalade is way too sweet. And the Canadian lobster roll on a butter bun (420 baht) came with a sauce that was also too sweet. We were told the lobster was fresh, not frozen, but logic should have told us we weren’t getting fresh Canadian lobster for that price, and our suspicions were confirmed by the undoubtedly rubbery taste. For both entrees, the buns were soft and sweet, meaning likely filled with preservatives, so let’s hope the feeling out process leads to better bread.

Roast has some original dishes, such as abalone chowder with chili oil (380 baht), poached apple crumble with sour cream ice cream (160 baht) and pink lemonade with thyme (120 baht), and it earns points for featuring early 90s rap on its house iPod. Surprisingly, “Ain’t Nothing But A G Thang” goes nicely with a cappuccino.

The drinks are pretty expensive here with the coffees of the world coming in at 140 baht a cup, but we still feel that Roast offers a product of value. Roast is recommended for java addicts and brunch lovers (bohemian bourgeois)

Location: SeenSpace, 251/5 Thong Lor Soi 13, 2nd floor. About 50 meters down the soi on your left, just before you reach J Avenue.

Mass transit: BTS Thong Lor
Hours: 10 am-10:30 pm daily
Phone: 02-185-2866
Web: www.facebook.com/roastbkk

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