My longest standing friend in this town is married to a wonderful Thai lady and has two precious children so he doesn’t get out much. He gets one day per month to come out and do “bad stuff” with me.
Last week I asked him what he wanted to do. “My wife doesn’t eat beef” he confided. “We can’t even have it in the house”. My mission was clear. We dialed up Uber and headed for Arno’s Butcher Shop and Eatery near Chong Nongsi.
Chef Arnaud Carre, a fifth generation butcher himself, has created the hottest spot in Bangkok for carnivores. Dry aged beef glows inside the well-lit meat case, begging to be eaten as rare as possible.
My friend went weak in the knees. We ordered a 1.6kilo Tomahawk Rib medium rare, chose a reasonably priced Malbec from the wine chiller and headed to our table.
It appears that Arno’s was never intended to be a restaurant. A small dining room was added to the butcher shop, then another and another. It’s has a rustic European vibe that really gets you in the mood to feast. The place was packed with mostly Thai parties, gobbling down Ribeyes and T-bones and even some tasty looking seafood like mussels and lobster.
When the food came to our table, my friend crossed himself and thanked whatever saint it is that looks after oppressed meat-eaters. The meat was flawlessly cooked and served on a sizzling platter with perfect Belgian fries. We ate in blissful silence. We thought about a second bottle of wine but opted to continue to the second leg of our mission.
Next on my friend’s “things I can’t do at home” list … loud and raucous music. Wouldn’t you guess? … I knew just the place! Apoteka on Sukhumvit Soi 11 looks like an old pharmacy turned into a live music bar because it is. In keeping with our “beefy” theme, we were treated to music from the Thai bluesman known only as “Benz” performing with his band. Benz is a larger than life character (literally) who burst onto the scene on the hit TV Show “The Voice Thailand” in Season 5.
He’s big, he’s flamboyant and he’s talented as hell. Benz can blast through blues classics from Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B. King, then change gear to jazz and offerup the coolest acoustic rendition of ‘Fly me to the Moon’ you’ve ever heard. Big Daddy Benz jammed through the midnight hour with three sets of electric blues, jazz and good old rock-n-roll.
Afterwards, we staggered into the street with ears ringing and heads swimming when my buddy put his nose to the air and said, “Let’s go this way”. His eyes were wild and I could see he was under the spell of the alluring aroma of sizzling beef once again. “You’re kidding me” I said. “You’re hungry again?” “I have no shame” he chanted.
The marvelous odor was coming from a place that looks like a food truck bolted to a beer bar. The bar is called simply “Brew” and the food was from another local superstar “Daniel Thaiger“. Last year Daniel Thaiger became famous for his spectacular burger creations. As we stood there staring at the simple menu, I got hungry again.
We ordered and then shuffled inside to see what was “brewing” (pardon the pun … it was late). The little micro-pub was jumping and this kooky 2-man band was playing in a space underneath the stairwell. The band consisted of this good-looking Swedish kid singing, playing guitar and trumpet … all at the same time. His “percussion” section consisted of this skinny Greek guy with an afro beating on anything that would make noise. Somehow the sound really worked and gave this little joint a very infectious groove.
When the burgers arrived a tear came to my eye; they were just that beautiful. Predictable, my Italian friend had the Wagyu beef with bacon and cheese. Mine was lamb with bacon, cheese and a mysterious BBQ sauce that ran between my fingers and down my arm. All I can say is … Daniel Thaiger’s reputation is well-deserved. Best damn burger I’ve had in 10 years.
About 2 AM I stuffed my buddy into a waiting taxi grinning ear-to-ear. “She’ll probably make me sleep on the sofa tonight … I must smell like a butcher shop”. “You do” I said. “The one right next to the brewery”.
Beef, Blues and Beer in Bangkok….The very definition of “boy’s night out“.
By Bangkok Bart