Not All Bread and Butter

Plain or Chocolate Croissant to start your day? Best thing is they are all served with Calin’s home-made jams in strawberry balsamic and orange cinnamon

What usually comes to mind when you think about the unique glow of Paris? Their famous street side cafes decked out in striped and checked linens? A ramshackle small place to duck in for the richest and smoothest possible chocolat chaud in the city? Or may be, the city’s distinctively heart-warming aroma of freshly baked goods, especially their famous baguettes and croissants, to jump start your day?

While none of those exactly describe what we usually have here in Bangkok, you can relive those enjoyable moments of Paris if you drop by Calin – a new boulangerie and cafe – set in a comfy French style with many nice simple French-inspired dishes to match, from tried-and-true breakfast favorites and sandwiches to many delicious entree prepared with a precise French culinary flair.

Clockwise: Oeuf en cocotte (pot-baked egg) with chunky bacon and cheese, Kouign-Aman served with creme Chantilly and fresh fruit, grilled Mediterranean sardines and the famous croque madame

“I always have a thing for French cooking,” says Arpha Seneepakonkai, Calin’s owner and chef. “I think French cooking is unique and lends wonderful memories of the country. So when it comes to my own restaurant, French is my choice of style, but instead of portraying it as an uptight kind of cuisine, I prefer to do it casually, but still with a little bit of French notch to make it unique and our own.”

Calin’s one-page menu is simple yet enticing with things that can be appealing at any time of the day. They are open from 8am in the morning, and that might be a good time to grasp a good cup of coffee (they are one of a very few places in Bangkok that serves single-origin coffees of Cafes Richard) and maybe a basket of their freshly baked bakeries that include homemade croissants – plain butter and au chocolat, baguette, and brioche that go very well with their homemade jams in strawberry balsamic and orange cinnamon. Or you can go for heartier choices like oeuf en cocotte which is baked egg with lots of very very good bacon and thick layer of cheese (Bt180). There are also choices of sandwiches, pictured above is their sumptuous croque madame (or croque monsieur with a sunny-side-up).

Above – 1824 Grain-fed entrecote steak served with spiced fries; below – Mushroom cream soup with a delicious pastry cap of its own

But Calin is not all about breakfast. You might want to come here hoping they have the fresh catch of the day. This place is known for their sole meuniere (Bt690), but they ran out of the fish the day we were there, hence we tried their Mediterranean sardines simply grilled and served with olives and wedge of lemon. This light dish features the natural feather-silky texture of the sardines – one thing you would order if you happen to be at the French riviera.

Their rich creamy mushroom soup served with a cap of its own is thick, aromatic and satisfying. It is good eaten with the pastry cap, and the portion is large enough to make a meal, especially if you previously have had enjoyed their bakeries. If not, you might want to try their grain-fed entrecote (rib eye) steak served in a cute wooden cow-shaped platter with a pile of spiced potato wedges and a rich red wine gravy. The meat was tender and of good quality, but a little too light on herbs and spices.

Calin’s Paris-cafe ambiance complete with an outdoor porch

“It is hard to define the time we serve breakfast,” says Arpha. “Some people still want breakfast at 2pm, hence we now extend our breakfast serving time to 3pm. But then, there are some people who want to have big plate for breakfast, so what we do is serving them early lunch, from 11am when everything, including desserts are ready.”

Talking about dessert, Calin’s Kouign-Aman served with creme chantilly and fresh fruit (Bt180, pictured above) is definitely lovely treat for us that day. The outside crispy pastry lends a lovely contrast texture to the moist and sweet interior and the lightly scented chantilly creme with their wonderful homemade candied orange zest (even better if they have diced the zest more finely for better distribution on cream). This is not something you can have everyday anywhere in Bangkok, so it is a good experience to be here and enjoy the Brittany’s specialty without the hassle of going all the way there.

Calin on ground floor or Eight Thong Lor is open daily from 8.00 – 23.00. Parking is available in the building. Call 081-586-7305 for reservation and information. You can subscribe to their Facebook page for menu updates and promotions. For more pictures and menu of the place are available here

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