Restaurants all have a certain direction, but sometimes it takes a little while for the restaurant to find its way. Manhattans Restaurant and Bar was one of those. I am now pleased to report that not only has Manhattans found its way, but it has also become a favored venue for dining, wining and late evening nightcaps.
Much of the direction comes from a synergy that has been formed between owner Alan Beilby and chef Dessi de Vriess. Together they have produced a win-win situation, and the diner is the one who benefits most.
For those who do not know the location of Manhattans Restaurant and Bar, it is at the top of the hill on Thappraya Road, on the ground floor of the Nirvana Place. Mata Hari restaurant is on the left side of the building, and Manhattans on the right side. Plenty of on-street parking.
The restaurant is in two main sections, with two very large aquaria separating the two. As you enter, this is the cocktail bar with a knowledgeable young bartendee able to mix your drink, or dispense your wine. The wine measures are very generous too, with only four glasses per bottle. Settle into what must be the most comfortable chairs in Pattaya and enjoy your pre-dinner drink, with three reds, three whites and a sparkler all available by the glass. And by the way, the wine list is extensive and it is worthwhile to peruse slowly. House red is available under B. 1,000 and there are plenty of choices under B. 2,000, both old and new worlds.
The food menu is a hefty leather-bound affair, with many new items from creative chef Dessi, including the contrasting textures of a chicken liver pate with pink peppercorn and a terrine with cognac and walnuts, orange-carrot marmalade and white toast. Another new item is the carpetbag steak, an original Australian dish, probably reflecting the years Alan Beilby spent down-under, but more on that later. There is also a Thai menu for those who are not partial to western food.
After taking our orders we were ushered through to the restaurant section which again has comfortable chairs and large tables. Important items which can make or break the dining experience.
An ‘amuse bouche’ was brought to the table by Dessi himself, which featured a small Andalusian gazpacho and whetted the appetite. We also opened the wine we had chosen for the evening, being the 2006 Stonefish Cabernet Sauvignon from the Margaret River in Western Australia. A medal winner and excellent drinking at B. 1,400 per bottle.
Madame’s appetizer was the lobster bisque with crab-shrimp raviolis and thickened cream (B. 325). Superb! I had chosen the beef and cucumber (B. 425) which had a carpaccio of Australian tenderloin with ribbons of sweet and sour cucumber, salad of potato with bacon bits and chives, a garlic crostini and Indonesian soy mayonnaise. Wonderful tastes, flavors and textures.
For mains, Madame had chosen the grouper with Cajun sauce, which was from the seasonal festive menu. A large portion and very enjoyable. However, I had chosen the carpetbag steak (B. 1450) which featured an Australian bacon-wrapped fillet filled with oysters and a cognac sauce with the scent of Worcestershire. The steak fell apart under the knife and the oysters and bacon impart their own individual flavors. If you enjoy a good steak, try this item next time.
Despite our pleas of being completely satiated, chef Dessi insisted we try his desserts, and they made a wonderful, calorie-laden end to the meal.
We ended our review with a nightcap, and the bartendee knew what a Rusty Nail was. There was no getting away from the fact that it had been a most enjoyable evening.
If you have not been to Manhattans Restaurant and Bar, we have no hesitation in suggesting you do. It is a five star venue, but now relaxed and laid back, and most enjoyable both in ambience and cuisine. Highly recommended.
Manhattans Restaurant and Bar, Nirvana Place, 482/1-4, M12, Thappraya Road Pattaya. Open 5 p.m. until very late (but last orders for the kitchen 10.30 p.m.). Open every evening up till January 9 and thereafter open six days and closed on Sundays.