The first of its kind

Bangkok is full of restaurants. There are too many to count and many of them specialize in a specific genre of cooking but fail miserably. I believe the reason for that is they try to do too much, they create an extremely complex menu with what seems like a hundred different options and a lot of the time it simply falls short. Michel from Café Riviera has done the opposite of what so many restaurateurs are doing, and created a venue and menu that are one of a kind to the Bangkok dining scene.

Café Riviera is the first French restaurant specializing in cuisine from the Cote D’Azur to be found in Bangkok. The owner, Michel, wanted to bring a taste of his home in France to Bangkok. Being from the French Riviera, you can trust the food prepared will be of the highest quality and served to perfection since he is sharing his hometown recipes with you. The café’s interior décor of dark wooden tables, chairs, and couches adorned with throw pillows make for an elegant but laid back feel when you walk in from the busy streets. The gray and white color scheme allows for the red and black accents to pop amid the candle light flickering in the background. The walls are covered in vintage paintings that resemble travel posters from locations along the Riviera. The bar is fully stocked and with their new upstairs lounge you could easily host your next friendly get together there.  

The menu  

One of the best parts of dining at Café Riviera is that when you are handed a menu you aren’t handed a heavy book. Michel and his team in the kitchen have done an excellent job of creating a menu which stands out but doesn’t overwhelm the customer in weight or options. There is an assortment of options under each section that would please anyone you are dining with and all of them sound delicious. At Café Riviera the two page menu offers appetizers, starters, soups, salads, pizzas, main entrees and desserts. The menu is simple but that does not mean the flavors are not complex. Simplicity in that they are sticking with a reasonable menu, using high quality ingredients, and perfecting the dishes that are offered, which I wish more restaurants would do.  

Cafe Riviera - Gazpacho avec tomates, concombre, poivron, oignon, ail, et olives

The prices are extremely reasonable with glasses of wine ranging from 175-220 baht per glass, pizzas loaded with toppings for 250 baht, appetizers, soups and salads ranging from 160-290 baht, and the most expensive entrée (imported duck) for only 390 baht. Michel wanted his customers to experience the fine dining experience of the Riviera but without his customers feeling like they would break the bank when they came to dinner. To accomplish this he has been very careful in selecting his ingredients using many local suppliers, imports when necessary, and trying to make as many of his components in house as possible with his culinary team to keep prices low.  

Some say the best food in the world is the food along the Riviera with places like Monaco, Cannes, Antibes, Saint Tropez and, of course, Nice. Café Riviera has food featuring all of these beautiful places. For an appetizer enjoy les fameux Farçis Niçois, legumes farçis et gratinés. This is a Nice city-style preparation of vegetables such as eggplant, tomato, pepper and zucchini stuffed with a seasoned ground pork and onion mixture topped with melted mozzarella cheese. If you are in the mood for something a little cooler after your hot day in Bangkok, I highly recommend the gazpacho avec tomates, concombre, poivron, oignon, ail, et olives. This cold tomato soup is a puree of cucumber, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and fresh tomatoes topped with crunchy sauteed vegetables on top. The chef has done a fantastic job on this soup to ensure it comes off as light and refreshing and not at all like cold tomato sauce. Your dining experience at Café Riviera wouldn’t be complete without a little foie gras. Try their duo de foie gras, poêlé et terrine, pomme poêlée. The foie gras is served two ways, seared and terrine, accompanied with a sweet apple mash, cinnamon apples, and fresh berries. Try the foie gras with the warm, fresh, French baguettes Michel orders from a French baker in town, that is given to each of his guests who dine at Café Riviera.

Cafe Riviera - Les fameux Farçis Niçois, legumes farçis et gratinés

Locals of the Riviera enjoy their Italian inspired dishes; that being said, you must try one of the cafe’s signature pizzas. The Pizza Bella Nissa is covered in tomatoes, oregano, black olives, bell pepper, basil/garlic pesto sauce, capers, melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese, topped with ham. The crust and sauce are made in house. I particularly enjoyed the pizza because the crust stood up to the test of holding all of the toppings without being a mushy mess. It had a soft yet firm hold to it and the sauce was sweet but it balanced nicely with the salty ham.  If you are looking for a heartier main entrée instead of pizza try their signature loup de mer "Croisette", gros sel et cannelle, riz pilaf. The huge portion of baked sea bass with rock salt and cinnamon, pilaf rice, and fresh vegetables is easy enough to share with your significant other.

Finish it all off with dessert, because no trip to France would be complete without dessert at every meal. If you aren’t a huge fan of very sweet desserts you could try their Riviera Mille feuille, which is a cheese cake "Riviera" style with honey and lavender. This isn’t your average cheese cake; instead, it is a sweet and savory goat cheese spread on three layers of puff pastry served with a side of lavender honey to drizzle on top. The crême brûlée à la lavande served with ice cream was the light, smooth, and sweet finish to our very thorough tour of the cuisine of the Riviera.

Cafe Riviera - Pizza Bella Nissa

Bottom line

Café Riviera is a lovely date night option for you to try out any day of the week. It has a nice, laid back elegance that only the French can produce. The prices on wine are some of the best in town from what I have seen and the food is extremely high quality, with big portion sizes that you could easy share with your loved one or friends at a very affordable price. With their most expensive entrée at 390 baht, you can splurge for an extra glass of wine or a decadent dessert.

Café Riviera is open every day from 6-10pm. On Saturday and Sunday they are also open for lunch from 11:30-3pm.

For more information check them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/caferivierabkk. If you “like” and “share” their Facebook page you will receive 10% off.