Greek philosopher, poet, and the the first ever man to write a cookbook, Archestratus, coined the term “Gastronomy” over 4000 years ago, and it was then that the world was introduced to Greek food.
Avra Bangkok then has a task on its hand, carry forward a legacy, or be termed a disgrace to the very cuisine they hold in high regard. Will they hold up?
Ambiance and Decor
Set in a romantically-lit, spacious corner of Novotel Bangkok’s lobby; Avra nails presentation. The first thing you notice when you enter the restaurant is the neat arrangement of wheatgrass placed on the roof, you then notice how meticulously put together this place is.
It’s hard to explain, but imagine yourself on a ship, in the Captain’s dining room, with hardwood chairs, tables, floors, and checkered tablecloths. To add to the immersion, picture delicate wine glasses and strategically placed barrels of beer to make you feel at home, but with a layer mystery sprinkled in the air.
I’d go as far as to say I’ve never been in a place so thoughtfully decorated.
Being the only place that offers Greek food in Bangkok, it’s not hard to imagine what the average client looks like: mostly groups of foreigners and executive-level locals who are curious of what Avra Bangkok has to offer.
Most conversations between the staff and customer go down in English, fortunately, the servers are well-equipped to handle it, and even offer advice on what you should order based on your preferences, a rarity in Thailand.
Unfortunately, Avra seems understaffed. When I went, the restaurant wasn’t operating at max capacity but the servers still looked flustered — almost jogging from table to table.
Avra Bangkok doesn’t strictly serve Greek food, they’ve included some Mediterranean options as well which means you’d still be able to recognize a couple of dishes, sauces, and dips if you frequent Beirut Bangkok.
The menu greets you with the signature Greek Gyro, but as you turn the pages you come across Greek style pizzas, salads, appetizers, and more. You’ll also find ‘famous’ dishes like the Moussaka, Dolmadakia ( rice stuffed in grape leaves), and Souvlaki (skewered meat)
Staying true to the Greek style of surf and turf eating, you’ll also find seafood and grilled meat platters to choose from, but they aren’t cheap (more on that later).
What We Ordered:
- Variety of Dips – You get to order 3 dips from a choice of 6. Select between the traditional Tzatziki or go for something more unconventional Taramosalata (Cod Roe spread), or the appealing Tyrosalata (Feta cheese spread with roasted chilies). I got:
- Melitzanosalata – An eggplant spread mixed with cheese and roasted red peppers, this was delicious. The smell of roasted eggplant usually puts me off, but I really didn’t mind hogging on this. My only complaint is that it wasn’t really spicy.
- Hummus – Not their best dip, texture was too grainy and it seemed like they forgot to salt it.
- Tzatziki – Garlicy! My favorite dip. The cucumber and olive oil complement that garlic well.
- Pita Bread – Standard.
- Spanakotiropita – Greek Spinach and Cheese Pie. I’m a sucker for cheese, so this was the obvious choice as an appetizer. The pastry was puffy and flaky, cooked well. The spinach to cheese ratio was great too. Again, they forgot to salt the thing which was disappointing.
- Moussaka – A casserole stuffed with spiced beef, potato, and eggplant, topped with Bechamel sauce (white sauce infused with herbs). Think of it like the Greek Lasagna. This. Was. Awesome. The layers didn’t slide off upon contact, I distinctly tasted the parsley in the ground beef sauce, and the Parmesan cheese held up the Bechamel sauce well. Lastly, the the fried eggplants gave this dish a crunch which enhanced the experience. You also get this dish in the vegetarian variety.
- Yemistes Domates – Translates to stuffed tomatoes. The tomatoes (or peppers) are emptied and stuffed with a flavorful combination of garlic, onion, and lots of fresh parsley. It is then elevated and made unique with fresh mint and a cap of melted cheese. Unfortunately, the stuffing isn’t enough so you’re eating flavoured tomato with some cheese. An upsetting dish.
I get they’re the only place to serve authentic Greek food in the city, but it doesn’t give Avra Bangkok the licence to match their prices to a posh rooftop bar.
Dips, salads, and appetizers average around 330THB. Pasta and rice dishes are closer to 450THB. Meat-based dishes are around 800THB, yes you read that right. And mixed grill platters are around 1000THB, which is fairly priced.
- Dips – 270THB
- Pita Bread – 70THB
- Spanakotiropita – 250THB
- Moussaka – 430THB
- Yemistes Domates – 330THB
Portion sizes are decent enough, and 3 dishes are enough for 2 people. Expect to pay an added service charge of 10%. My total bill was 1400THB.
Overall, Avra Bangkok does Greek well, and as someone who’s only seen it be cooked on TV shows, I think it was a fair representation.
My only complaint is how scared they are to salt things (Archestratus would be disappointed), although I would return here again because of the impressive variety of dishes!