Those who like the heat and a flair for the dramatic will enjoy a trip to Le Cochon Blanc, a restaurant known for its live fire barbecue cooking in Phrom Pong.
As you enter the darkly glamorous spot — decked out with black walls, shots of red, backlit palms outside the windows, and a fluorescent lit heart on the wall — you immediately feel the heat from the fire pit hit you in the face. It seems by design that the place is dark so that attention is focused on the flames.
The restaurant — opposite the original Peppina — opened 18 months ago, but they recently doubled the size of the fire pit and revamped their menu. Now, pretty much everything is cooked on what they call the “live pit.” Fruits, vegetables, and delicates like lobster are hung over the fire from ropes or sit on upper trays, heads of cabbage are quick charred in the coals, while steaks, chicken legs, and pork sit on the mid level.
Pro tip: Try to nab a table that faces the fire pit through the glass walls on either side — it’s like dinner and a show.
We started with a few of their signature cocktails. Blood and Sand (THB290) is a scotch cocktail with sweet vermouth, cherry, and fresh orange juice. This is not a beginner’s drink but quite well crafted for scotch fans. Playing to a far wider audience was the Blood Orange Infused Gin Tonic (THB290) with an ever so slight pink tinge and citrus flavor, this was just different enough from a standard G&T to allow us to enjoy it thoroughly rather than mindlessly gulp it like we might do to standard one.
The food, served family-style, began arriving next.
First was one of their specialties, a Grilled Corn Salad (THB320) which takes notes from the elote, a kind of street-style corn salad, served in Mexico. The sweet corn is stripped of its silk, stuffed with butter, and hung over the barbecue. Then it’s tossed with homemade smoked chili paste, lime, coriander, and shallot. It was as good as we’d been told: sweet, creamy, sour, spicy, and fresh tasting.
The Oyster and Mussel Veloute (THB420) landed next. The creamy soup features Monsieur Jean-Paul oysters, Bouchot mussels, lemon, and parsley. A single oyster barbecued with leek butter sits beside the bowl on a bed of sea salt. Manager Wacharawit “Top” Pookkaew advised us that we should gently shave it into the soup. We did, and it tasted like a dish you’d have on the coast of France.
After that, we tried Tomato and Marinated Mackerel (THB450), featuring cured and smoked French mackerel, Chiang Mai heirloom tomatoes, charred chilies, and basil. Pairing mackerel from France and tomato from Chiang Mai, the briefly cold-smoked fish, which is also cured overnight, surprised and delighted us — an unusual hybrid that reminded us of both smoked whitefish and pickled herring.
Already half-full, the mains began to reach the table.
The Half Grilled Chicken (THB490) turned up as a “bone in” (and foot on) affair, an organic bird from Khao Yai. The chicken here are marinated two ways and served with a thick slice of eggy vegetable pain perdu, au jus, and whole grain mustard. We found it deeply comforting.
The Grilled Squid (THB590) came next, an entire local squid rubbed with Turkish spices and cayenne, served with charred pomelo and orange over a bed of tasty, tangy white bean salad. The smoky seafood and fresh salad beneath were a pretty entrancing — and healthy — combo.
A Pork Tomahawk (THB990) came next and is a rich, marbled, organic hunk from a Japan-originating black pig raised in Nan province, marinated in red wine and arriving with potato puree and garlic. We thought of it as pork playing at being fillet steak and found it flavorful, filling, and high quality.
For afters, we try their two new offerings. Mango Colada (THB350) featured a core of Mahachanok mango sorbet, covered by coconut mousse and panna cotta on a base of shortbread while the Grilled Banana Tart (THB390) is a dessert that’s also made (partially) on the fire pit. Crafted of two types of banana grilled overnight, the fruit falls apart and the flavor becomes concentrated and caramel-like. This is served in an almond tart shell with hazelnut ice cream on the side and a cinnamon crisp on top.
Both tasting sweet but also a little healthier than most dessert offerings around the city, they are a pretty great foil to an indulgent, meaty meal.
Le Cochon Blanc
27 Sukhumvit Soi 33
Open daily, 6-11pm
BTS Phrom Pong