Given its quiet locale away from more frequented Bangkok districts like Thonglor and Siam, you’d never expect a random shophouse on the corner of Charoenkrung Soi 31 to harbour anything of much interest. But we know that Old Town‘s dark alleys tend to hide hidden gems in the form of restaurants and heritage bars. So when you venture a little deeper past the building’s obscene neon lights and worn mosaic tiles, you’ll discover the FooJohn Building.
It’s a casual French bistro with just enough ambience and vintage knick-knacks to pull off a retro-cantina vibe a la Hong Kong circa 1990. A reservation at FooJohn starts with a choice of seating, but it isn’t your everyday “counter or bar” arrangement. You’ll have to choose from one of three entirely different spaces: on the first floor is the casual French bistro Fou De Joie with a menu that serves things like crepe, wine (from THB140 by the glass), and charcuterie (from THB180 for three items).
The ingredients that French owner Romain Dupuy work with include fresh French imports and local produce; the Foie Gras (THB360) comes from French cold cut producer Eden Delicatessen. The bistro specialises in crepes, including the classic ham, cheese and chive Parisienne (THB220) galette. If you crave something gamier, a combo of smoked duck and goat cheese will surely hit the spot (Goat Goat Duck, THB340). You can even get wild-caught French oysters for THB1,000 a dozen.
The intimate jazz club on the second floor, Foo de Jazz, is lined with vintage posters and memorabilia framed over the glow of neon pink lights. Hosting live jazz acts every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 9pm, the place is abuzz with activity on these nights, and resident drummer and programme director Mr Sticks keeps things lively with his line-up of international musicians. This floor also houses a prohibition era-themed cocktail bar inspired by The Savoy Cocktail Book. French spirits in classic cocktails include the jewel-toned Le Bijou (THB360) and Satan’s Whiskers (THB380), served straight.
A complete 180° from the floor below, the two upper floors include a romantic rooftop and screening room with cushy love seats. These belong to the SpareParts Smokehouse, and the top floor opens up to fairy lights, an open bar, and rare vistas of the Old Town. The cuisine is authentic Texas smoked BBQ, draught beer, and bourbon-centric libations. A mouthwatering Rib Platter (THB780) comes with a full rack of dry-rubbed ribs, straight off the pit and falling off the bone. Even if cold cuts and cheese platters don’t do it for you, FooJohn has something for everyone, from the casual diner to the jazz-hungry alley cat and to hot-blooded meat eater.
The FooJohn Building is located at 831 Charoen Krung 31 Alley, Khwaeng Talat Noi, Khet Samphanthawong, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100, Thailand, p. +66 2 297 0106. Opens Tue-Sun 6pm-12am.