If your idea of great dining is Au Bon Pain, then you are going to love Dean & Deluca; which is like a trendier, more upscale version. Dean & Delcua recently opened its flagship location in Bangkok right off of exit 3 at the Chong Nogsi BTS Sky Train Station. Many have eagerly anticipated the opening of this gourmet brand restaurant in Asia, but it is debatable whether or not it lives up to all the hype.
The restaurant is very modern, trendy and hip. It boasts glass walls, impossibly high ceilings, and is dominated by a stark white color scheme accented with sleek black and grey design elements. Open and airy, the restaurant has a causal feel. The furniture seems as if it may have been picked out more for its aesthetic appeal than for its function or comfort. There is inside dining, outside dining and a small retail area inside where you can purchase the obligatory Dean & Deluca signature items. This includes their coffee, pasta, sauces, spices, T-shirts and baseball hats. Although a retail space is an integral part of the Dean & Deluca experience, at this location the space appears to be more of an afterthought instead of being an organic part of the restaurant. Overall, the design is modern and clean although it is a bit unimaginative and feels like it has been done before.
The menu is refreshingly small, and sticks to daily soups, sandwiches and salads. There are also a few pastries, tarts, cookies and the popular “Aristocakes” which are simple frosted cupcakes. What was missing is the “gourmet” items that Dean & Deluca are known for back in the USA. Where were the gourmet cheeses, cavier, wine and foie gras and other high end products? The problem is that the quality of the food and pastries at Dean & Deluca is on par with that which you can find at any decent hotel in Bangkok and not up to the gourmet standard of the original brand. Most items are priced at under 200Baht. Sampled items included the Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad (130Baht) and the half size Smoked Turkey with Caramelized Onions and Cranberry (85Baht). The food tasted….fine. It was not bad, nor was it particularly good. Other items on the menu included the Goat Cheese & Avocado Sandwich (100Baht-200Baht), the Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagel (100Baht-200Baht) and the Cajun Chicken Pasta (150Baht). Amazingly, there are no hot food items on the menu (excluding the soup) and all the food on offer was pre-made, even the sandwiches were pre-made and couldn’t be made to order (which was also very puzzling). It all just makes one wonder what the need is for 5 or 6 staff members crowding around the back of the counter if there is no cooking being done. Dean & Deluca also has a cafeteria style of service where you have to take a number, grab your own eating utensils, and stand in line to order and pay, which also does not fit well with an upscale gourmet dining experience.
Overall, Dean & Delcua is trying hard to project the right image, but it all feels a bit contrived and it lacks any imagination or real creativity in the décor and in the menu. It’s all been done before and besides their aggressive branding, there is nothing that really differentiates Dean & Deluca and makes you want to come back for more. Dean & Delcua Bangkok lacks the cache of the original in New York, and if you have never been to one of the original locations then that may be your good fortune because you don’t realize what you are missing. It feels like a hollow copy of the real thing. It is by no means bad, but it just average at best and offers nothing special or out of the ordinary.
See Dean & Deluca Restaurant Page