Foodie is again on the quest for a great steak. This time it should be Bangkok and specifically the RR&B Steak House in the Landmark Hotel. The Landmark advertises its restaurant with “The Best Steaks in Bangkok” and as a proof they proudly present at the entrance certificates for that from No.1 votes of the last four years.
I always think the most convincing point is the food itself. So let´s go and find out.
A new friend in Bangkok is a genius, when it comes to getting a membership card for pretty much anything, preferably when these cards come with a huge Food & Beverage discount. And there is a card for dining in the Landmark and it sounds fantastic. If this is not an incentive than what?
Lets see the it… the Club Landmark Card. This baby is advertised with awesome benefits. 40% discount for 1 person dining, which is quite unusual. Most discount cards require at least two diners. For 2-4 persons dining the discount is even a whopping 50% – wow, sounds great.
Since steak houses are in general not cheap and this particular one tends to be in upper range, the card should be quite the saver. I appreciate that – highly. And if they deliver food-wise as what is promised as “The Best Steak House in Bangkok”, I am going to dine there probably quite often.
So the anticipation builds up.
In order to do this properly, we assembled a team of four guests, filled the day with some (not to much) business and sports to build an appetite and arrived fresh, in appropriate attire and hungry at the Landmark hotel.
A slight difference to most Steak Restaurants I know is the location on the top floor. Most Steak places reside in the lower floors, hefty chilled to refrigerator climate, as much as dark and heavy. This was different, with still some daylight left at arrival, a following sunset and a view at the skyline afterwards. A nice beginning.
The entrance was decorated with the mentioned prices of the last four years… obviously someone rated this restaurant repeatedly as the “BEST”…
Since we had to wait for our last member of the night to arrive, we took some drinks at the bar before heading to the restaurant itself. The view there is nice and mentionable but not over the top. A view in Bangkok is not rare, the Landmark is an old building and not as much a high-rise as many new condominiums. Still not shabby. The view actually is enjoyable, especially since right at this time the sunset brought all the pinkish red colors over the skyline of Bangkok.
The group finally united and was seated nearby the bar that separates the open kitchen from the diners area and at a window. I guess, this was one of their better tables, since many others were not that inviting.
Hey a good table is nothing to complain about. I was just wondering, if would enjoy the other seating possibilities as much.
Also impressive are the choice of colors in the design. The whole interior is dominated by intense red colors with brown notes and the lighting is created to support that. Not particularly a bad sign. Only I cannot avoid that it reminds me of red lanterns and Chinese restaurants. This much red in a steak house? Hmm, I can not recall a similar venue. But again, that does not have to be a bad sign. We are here to judge the food and service primarily and topics like decor and interior design are only very subordinate in my opinion. After all, I am the Foodie on Tour and not the Designer On Tour. 😉
Finally settled at the table and “tucked” in by the waitresses with over-sized napkins we could study the menu and the many different kinds of meat. A short glance at the numbers in the menu with the many digits after the menu items made quite clear, to dine in this establishment you need a discount card if your name is not Rockefeller or such.
The bread upfront was not any special but decent. The butter that came with the bread although was pretty good.
In Europe that might not be the reason for a big headline. Here in Asia I make the experience on a regular basis, that even the best 5 star hotels, which serve any kind of exotic food, often lack a simple decent butter. From this point you might understand, why I was happy about something simple but good like this. So maybe not overly exiting the butter still is worth a positive comment.
I did not try the seafood entrée myself. It was described as a little boring but generally conceived on the positive side as “nothing wrong with it” and “kind of tasty”. And if not the food itself was the star, the plate was. This huge plate for a tiny starter was maybe not particular beautiful but impressive. In a steak house size still matters. 😀
The Salad was described in the menu as “prepared at the table”. And indeed, a short while later a young girl came with a big tray on wheels and the familiar wooden bowl on top to start preparing the salad. I was able to mention my favorite way for this salad and even got a tiny bit to taste.
I described in earlier posts how much I like a Caesars salad. And believe me, I was very particular in the description how I wished this one to be. Since I cook a lot myself, I really hoped my description would be sufficient and understood… and result in a great and delicious end product.
Unfortunately already the small tasting portion was disappointing. Very blend, nearly no spices and no salt at all.
Ok, that is the reason the tasting is for, right? So I explained my first impression of the salad so far and try to convince the lady into using more of this and particular a whole lot of that and that… pretty much anything. No chance. The resulting salad was still just blend and watery.
Hmm, not a good start I might say. I am disappointed. I like the salad as a starter and a side for the steak afterwards. The big role in my culinary script was not matched with this one… hmm.
What I heard from the others about their starters was not so encouraging either.
The scallops were not properly cooked, mushy and tasted like water. The sauce again watery and blend. We guessed there were frozen and lost pretty much every taste that once might have been in them (if any).
For the proud price of a complete meal in other places I have a hard time to accept that. The foam on top of the scallops seemed useless, since there was no distinctive taste to soften and so this gesture came just pretentious – and not even that good-looking.
Also the member of our group with the scallops initially planned on having only them. But after this debacle another course was needed now. Leaving the table hungry was not really an option.
So the first round of starters were not holding up to the big promises upfront. What throw me off completely where the total absence of any reaction from the staff. They noticed that we were not happy with the meal but nobody dared to ask if we liked our food or even if something was wrong. Unacceptable on this level of cuisine.
It was time for the main event of this dinner, steaks and seafood.
Nice touch. This cleanses the taste spots from impression of the food before and additionally it was presented in nifty glass chalices or cups that looked like there were completely out of frozen ice – but there were not – I tried. 🙂 This intermediate course has a nice touch and should be mentioned.
Now the main proteins for the night.
First there was a lobster, which was advertised as an original Maine Lobster.
I am not so sure what to say about this one. It came a little understated on the huge plate – or was it just that small? Beside the size itself, it did not taste special… not at all.
If you import a lobster from the other side of the globe into a country like Thailand, that itself produces Prawns in all sizes and qualities, they should be damn good – hey, a Maine Lobster should be damn good anyway and always.
So it is safe to say, the unpleasant taste of the highly anticipated lobster was a downer.
Next part in the play where the T-bone steaks from two different meats. We had a “regular” Australian beef and a 90 day grain fed beef from the United States.
Following the motto of the night, “disappoint your patron”, one steak was kind of OK and the other just wrong. The “just OK steak” was ordered medium and came nearly done. The party member was hungry and not in the mood to discuss this. So he started to dig in.
The other steak was the more expensive US version and ordered medium rare. When it arrived medium well to well done at my seat, I was not amused at all.
Nothing red inside… you have to be in a good mood to see some pinkish meat. Medium rare looks different… this here is pretty much (maybe a little under) well done.
Since no one from the staff cared if the meals were done to our liking, I raised my hand to get some attention and tried very polite to explain, what I hoped to get (and ordered), a steak medium rare and announced the wish to get another one. The girl who came to my table looked a little helpless and left with the plate in hand to a guy in a suit at the other end of the room. He looked over, raised an eyebrow but nod his head and 15 minutes later another steak arrived at my table.
I would call this service… if not the next attempt for a medium rare steak resulted in a rare to even blue one. And since the meat was hardly cooked, all the fat was still here and not melted away. A meat of that quality should not have this problem.
Again no one from the staff dared to come and ask if this time the steak was done right. And I had no energy anymore to go through this process all over. So I tried to enjoy the meat as far as possible, which honestly was not that far… with the meat mostly raw, especially at the bone and the need to cut big lumps of fat out of the steak, to get to tiny fractions of edible meat. Hmm, no.
In addition to the disappointing meat the side potatoes, we had steak fries and classic french fries, were blend and mushy and lacked the desired crispiness. Did I mention that salt is not known in this kitchen? So no salt on the fries either.
But considerably worse where the souses. The red wine souse came sour and bitter. The mushroom souse tasted burned and was not edible at all. What the f***? This night turned into a disaster of some kind.
What is left to report?
The disappointed scallop order from before was followed by a meat course. It was a fillet and beef tongue dish, prepared two ways and served as a stack of both with a crusty skin on top, a souse that surprisingly was edible, even kind of tasty and some mashed potato mousse – not edible – on the side. The fillet was successfully prepared medium and good – finally one thing was right. But not to be happy for to long. The second part of the dish, the beef tongue, did not fit the taste at all – or any taste that would be enjoyable. I normally like the nasty bits of an animal and particular tongue. This one not so much. It still was on the plate when it returned to the kitchen.
To round it up, the Cognac I ordered specifically and they confirmed they would have – was perfectly served in a warmed Cognac balloon – but the wrong one. At this point I am out of words.
And the (complimentary) chocolates as a sweet taste afterwards were served on a neat to look at plate – but the few items were destined for the whole group. So you have either the choice of battling for best pieces or reluctantly let the others have them…. the fitting rubbish finish to an unpleasant dinner.
The night should come to an end – but not before we were into a shock of another quality. The bill presented in the end was over 18.000 Baht. That is the equivalent of 420 Euros or 600 USD and the monthly salary of a Thai with a high school degree and a decent job.
When I realized they did not consider the membership card I was somewhat relieved. But not for long. 50% Discount was promised. The revised bill came with an amount of 16.000 baht. I was baffled. I checked the bill again, still had to cross an item that was just wrong but the result was unexpected and unexplainable for me…
Finally I called for the suit guy to get some answers. And he explained: The 50% discount applies only for the regular food, not beverages or alcohol and only for the items before taxes and services charge (17%). Special items like the Maine Lobster or the special US prime aged grain fed beef would not apply to that…. What is left to say here? I felt cheated and screwed – but not in the good way.
If you know me a little you can image what came next. I don´t want to get into the details at this point. Just take it this way, in the end the bill claimed an amount of 13.000 Baht and I just paid it to finally leave this place. I have to say, quite an experience.
Wat I did learn from that dinner?
First the newly found wisdom not to come back to such a scam…the RR&B Steak House in Bangkok is THE place to avoid in Bangkok, not only for last four consequent years but also next four years and maybe even… ever?
…and also I was confirmed in of the old wisdom, not to trust some bulls*** awards nobody ever heard of, which claim some place is the best there is.
I have been to many steak houses all over the world. I even dedicated the front page picture of my FoodieOnTour website to one the best there is (Peter Luger NYC) and also one of my best prime porterhouse steaks. The RR&B on the other hand earned a special place in my list of *worst-places-to-eat-a-steak*.
And the next time I crave a good steak in Bangkok, it will be again the New York Steak House in the JW Marriott… and I will write about it – hopefully with better experiences.