Avant Garde Bistro and Bar on Thong Lor, Bangkok. You must be kidding.
The word ‘avant garde’ is what the newest bistro and bar on Thong Lor opted to name itself in a distorted twist of Bangkok reality.
It should have opted for the namesake ‘pathetically pilfered.’
Avant garde is typically used as a noun or an adjective reserved for people or concepts that push the bounds of innovation and creativity that move beyond the status quo, surrendering itself to new realities.
But Avant Garde Bistro Bar in Bangkok is simply a failed attempt to copy Ash Sutton’s Thong Lor establishments and imagination. Its replicated to a comical point which borders on the absurd; upon entering one feels like they’re walking into a bizarre amalgamation of Clouds and Iron Fairies.
From the street you certainly can’t miss Avant Garde with its three story tall neon light installation next to Wine Republic, a dozen or so meters north of Thong Lor Soi 10. Upon entering you get a sense that Avant Garde went for an underlying theme of contemporary-haunted-house-meets-gothic-cathedral. The front half of the establishment rises three stories with cascading unfinished concrete walls that entertains diners on the first floor, stages a suspended live band (a la Iron Faires) on the second and houses two flying horses mounted between an anachronistic clock tower set to the boring packaged time standard of 10:10 on the third (pictured).
The back half of the establishment is where Avant Garde attempts to showcase its creativity, or lack thereof. The first floor houses an old-wooden bar illuminated by a ceiling of exposed light bulbs (a la Clouds) stringed from the roof at various lengths. Take a staircase up to the second floor to find a curved wooden table, renaissance era candlesticks and spin-dial telephones where patrons can enjoy live shows that play every night across a suicide inducing draw bridge that connects the second floor’s front and back sections. They spice it up on the third floor with another ceiling installation with paintbrush style bristles suspended amidst kiddish blue and green lights that reflect in unusual visual patterns.
But while Avant Garde spent most of their time copying interior design techniques in attempts to be edgy (?), they have ultimately failed at executing on a menu that evokes a single ounce of inspiration and a frat-party drink menu that leaves little to be desired or amused.
Speaking of the menu…
One of the worst things KohSpot did before going to Avant Garde was set expectations. But how does the mind not become entertained at the kaleidoscope of food and drink options and angles that an establishment might take with a name like Avant Garde? Whimsical fantasies of potentially dining on death-defying fugu or micro-expressed local ingredients raced through our brains. But no, Avant Garde sadly missed an opportunity to truly innovate and ‘wow’ in a venue of such a prime address. Such a shame.
The menu curiously ends with appetizers that included a cold cut platter (350 baht), cheese fries (160) and a salmon platter (350 baht) and begins with a few salads that could be found just about anywhere including a caesar salad, parma ham salad and a Japanese sesame. The salads were mixed with some of the cheapest ice-berg lettuce to be found in Bangkok and we’re pretty sure all the dressings came from the plastic bottled, mass produced variety that you would find in an elementary school cafeteria. Almost inedible.
Moving on to the mains, Avant Garde brands their spin on a tenderloin, sirloin and pork chop. The result is a cheap, poor quality cut that, suspiciously, was served a mere five minutes after order. The bogus price of 780 baht for a piece of sirloin that likely had a street price no more than 60 baht was egregious. We were honestly offended. We could barely cut through our pork chops which was served on a bread-board. The food was plain, simple, tasteless and cheap despite the high prices.
The drink menu, as mentioned earlier, shows no inspiration or creativity. Its insanely safe and benign with Margaritas, Singapore Slings, Bloody Mary’s and Mojito’s dotting the menu. Again, think of the possibilities you’d expect by going to a bistro bar with the name Avant Garde. Imagination and creativity should be bursting at the seams. Epic fail.
Alas, Avant Garde is a mere failed attempt to replicate a style and brand that Ash Sutton has created in the Thong Lor neighborhood. The only problem is that while Ash Sutton is a master of execution and delivering a quality food and beverage product in juxtaposition to his motifs, Avant Garde’s grand opening on February 3, 2012 idles as disrespectfully as a fake Louis Vuitton.
Soi Thong Lor, a few dozen meters north of Soi 10
Phone Number: unknown
Reservation: you won’t need em