Elegant champagne brunches (like the one at Brasserie Europa) have their appeal, but if you’re looking for a livelier and more characterful brunch spot this month in Bangkok, consider Anantara Riverside’s Sunday shindig at Trader Vic’s, their restaurant dedicated to Pacific Rim cuisine. Home of the Mai Tai cocktail that’s now a Tiki classic, which was said to have been created in 1944 by founder Victor Bergeron of the flagship Trader Vic’s in California, it’s no surprise that the tipple and its fellow rum-based cocktails feature heavily at its buzzy Sunday brunch.
Priced at THB2,200++ per adult for food and soft beverages, we highly recommend forking out an additional THB790++ for free-flow booze if you’re the sort happy to vacillate between glasses of floral and fruity Belstar Prosecco DOC Brut and Mai Tais. Trader Vic’s Mai Tai uses three types of rum, offering just enough complexity and punchiness to go with everything, and there’s enough variety amongst the other cocktails (including a four-martini strong selection) to keep you happy for the next three hours.
We were welcomed, almost exuberantly, with fragrantgarlands around our necks and friendly greetings of aloharinging out from staff as we made our way to the table. This 115-seater restaurant offers both indoor and al fresco seating on the terrace. We opted for the air-conditioning and a closer proximity to the live band playing music that evokes flavours of tropical vibes and hot summer nights.
Located by the walkway to the live stations outside, the fresh seafood setup at Trader Vic’s is impossible to miss, especially when accompanied by a two-foot tall ice sculpture. With everything from oysters and manila clams to crayfish and lobsters, the crustaceans and shellfish were nicely cooked the day we visited, without suffering from sogginess or overcooking.
Amongst the cold cuts, we noticed more varieties of smoked fish alongside the pork-based crowd favourites, and while not large, the selection of cheese covered all the bases. We figured this was to make room for the Raclette station, stocked with roasted and boiled potatoes with conditions like bacon and pickled onions. If you’re up for a bit of junk food between big plates, the kid’s corner comes with popcorn and beef sliders that you can wash down with more Tiki drinks.
For us, the Barbecue station outside was the star at Trader Vic’s. It was constantly dishing out smoking hot, well grilled meats (go for the lamb and the striploin) and juicy seafood (you’d want the scallops and the squid). Close by also sits the Teppanyaki station, whose garlicky prawns went really well with anything we got from the pasta stand. Fresh and dry pasta are accompanied by a wide selection of sauces like green curry and Thai basil pesto. We liked that our fresh fettuccine cooked in a Parmesan wheel with truffle came out al dente but those who want strong truffle flavours should skip the calories here.
At the table, you’ll also find a menu card with small list of Trader Vic’s brunch signatures. These are ordered via the staff and served at the table, but there are no restrictions on how many you can have. The Lobster Thermidor is a huge favourite since it presents quite a different flavour profile and texture from the lobsters at the cold seafood counter and BBQ station; the duck confit croquette and seared foie gras with onion compote were also delicious.
Besides fresh fruits, we kept our dessert diet strictly Tiki cocktails though it’s worth going to see their guest candy vendor make rock candy by hand by the kid’s corner. Last call is done between 2.30pm to 2.45pm so you have plenty to time to get your last drink to extend this blissful afternoon.
Trader Vic’s is located at Anantara Riverside Bangkok, 257 1-3 Charoen Nakhon Rd, Samre, Thon Buri, Bangkok 10600, p. +66 2476 0022. Sunday brunch runs weekly 11.30am-3pm.