Sunday, February 15, 2009

Giorgio's Italian Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand

Although the concept of "innovative" cuisine may be an overused one in some applications, the style of Italian cooking that has emerged from the nouvelle-Ital­Cal kitchens of California and elsewhere has influenced a whole generation of chefs and spread the word about the possibilities of cooking Italian-style dishes with the best fresh, local ingredients available to the chef. This is the concept that is currently in practice at Giorgio's, the Italian restaurant at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel in Bangkok.

This style of cooking has evolved gradually from the nouvelle beginnings of the late 70s to become the dominant cuisine in some areas, most notably Southern California. Although it was French cuisine that first took on nouvelle characteristics, hence the word "nouvelle" to describe it, Italian food slowly but surely stole the spotlight from the French. It's hard to say why, surely, but the result has been an explosion of restaurants serving what they describe as either 'trendy" or" sophisticated" Italian food. And it's no flash in the pan fad either, no pun intended.

In fact, many of the chefs we've interviewed here in Bangkok name Italian as their favorite cuisine to cook, so the phenomenon of innovative Italian cooking will probably be with us for quite some time. It's a good thing, too, because when it's done right, it's a fabulous way to prepare food and one that guarantees a never­-ending variety of tasty dishes.

At Giorgio's, the menu ranges from the tried and true traditional dishes with a few little twists to completely new offerings that depend totally on the creativity of the chef.

Seafood and fowl, beef and pork are all covered here as well as separate sections for pizza and pasta specialties. The wine list is all Italian, fittingly, and we chose a 1993 Pighri cabernet to accompany our dinner, which proved to be a very nice selection, full-bodied and fruity.

Anytime carpaccio is on the menu we feel compelled to order it as our starter to see if the chef has respected this traditional dish or mutilated it in some way in a quest for an individual statement on the nature of carpaccio in general. Fortunately, the former was the case her, and our plate contained nothing but lean beef and veal, parmesan, olive oil and a little basil. It was close to perfection.

Although we liked the looks of many of the meat dishes on the menu such as a gratinated grilled New Zealand beef, pan-fried veal medallions with asparagus and a roasted pork fillet, we opted for a seafood evening, ordering gratinated scallops, risotto with lobster and asparagus and grilled seafood. By doing so we also missed out on trying such pasta dishes as pappardelle with salmon and crabmeat sauce, pumpkin gnocchi and penne with spicy tomato sauce and clams but they would have to wait for another time.

The grilled seafood with broiled spinach was delicious, tender and moist seafood without any overpowering flavors to mask the taste. The gratinated scallops were also quite well done, not overcooked as many places serve them, preserving the succulent taste and texture. The risotto was a little less successful, owing to a little dryness, but the flavors of the asparagus and lobster were strong and well defined, not getting lost in the rice.

It was a nice experience and, surprisingly, our cabernet complemented all of the seafood well. The strolling minstrel adds a bit of atmosphere to the comfortable room which features tiled floors and beamed ceilings with comfortable leather chairs and banquettes.

Giorgio's is one of those Italian restaurants that could lay claim to the descriptive word "innovative," being not on the cutting edge but certainly not at the center of traditional Italian cooking and also able to offer a few surprises anytime you visit.

See for info on Bangkok restaurants.



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