Savouring the Big Easy: Tina’s Brings New Orleans' Finest Flavours to Bangkok

June 26, 2024

Tina's interior blends Old World charm and modern sophistication, creating an experience designed to transport diners straight to the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

One thing is clear: Chef David Cleland is incredibly passionate about the food he serves at his newly opened Tina’s, Bangkok’s first New Orleans fine-dining restaurant. The passion is layered into every dish he serves, from the cornerstone of Creole Louisiana culinary heritage, the Jambalaya to the epitome of comfort food, the buttermilk biscuits. This is an experience you want to linger over, savour, digest and go back for more. I have been to Tina’s thrice, drawn there by its incredible energy, the food that speaks to your soul, and the warm, inviting ambience that feels like coming home. No, New Orleans is not my home; I’ve never ever been there. It’s just that Tina’s makes one feel as if you’ve stepped into the storied, vibrant heart of New Orleans itself, where every meal is a celebration, and every bite tells a tale.

Let the story begin with Tina, the chef’s mother and the inspiration; her signature, the restaurant logo, is a loving homage. The location is perfect, too, at the top of Soi Suan Plu off Bangkok’s Sathorn Road, the expat soi with a million stories to tell. Here, the latest expat chef in town is crafting his own tale on a stage that blends Old World charm and modern sophistication, creating an experience designed to transport diners straight to the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. A warm, inviting glow bathes each carefully curated corner, highlighting the rich, deep browns that dominate. Plush, tufted leather seating invites you to settle in, while crisp white tablecloths provide a stark, elegant contrast. The walls of the restaurant are boldly dressed with an eclectic mix of vintage maps, botanical illustrations, and the strikingly detailed bird prints of John James Audubon, the chef’s favourite artist. Audubon’s works, celebrated for their meticulous precision and vivid lifelike portrayal, don’t just hang there – they command attention. This curated visual feast lends the space a distinctly intellectual and artistic edge, sparking not just conversation but a deep admiration. It’s a sophisticated backdrop that unapologetically celebrates nature and history with a bit of swagger and sounds of jazz.

Chef David Cleland; Grilled oysters; Jambalaya; Collarg Greens; Nola BBQ Shrimps

And swagger is what you need for what the chef plates – the flavours are intense, the dishes bold, something Thailand understands and is more than comfortable with. Dive into the experience with oysters; you could do the usual raw. I suggest Tina’s – a plate of six oysters brought to life with sautéed spinach, crispy bacon, and a fragrant mix of garlic and shallots. Each oyster is crowned with the velvety richness of champagne hollandaise sauce. Grilled to smoky perfection, these oysters celebrate Creole, Cajun and French cuisine that have intersected and ignited a flavour explosion. But ever so quietly.

Move over, charcuterie board. I have a new favourite – the Southern delight redefining snacks: Buttermilk Biscuits. These biscuits are quintessentially American – fluffy, savoury, and irresistibly fresh from the oven. A Southern staple, the biscuits are perfect for any meal from breakfast through dinner. At Tina’s, the appetiser biscuit is served with a sharp Creole pimento cheese, its bold flavours smoked and spiced to perfection, layered with hot and sweet chilli jam. Take a bit of the biscuit in your hand, top it with cheese-jam relish and discover something thrillingly new.

Next, we ordered the NOLA BBQ prawns, a New Orleans classic immortalised by the famed Mr. B’s Bistro in the French Quarter. These prawns are sautéed in a rich, indulgent sauce loaded with Worcestershire, garlic, lemon, and fiery Creole spices. With grilled French bread for dipping, David has a dish that deserves its own cult following.

The gumbo is an absolute must. The menu declares it ‘the heart and soul of Louisiana in a bowl’. Taste this impossibly rich stew, and you realise it is all that and more, weaving together all the diverse cuisines that have left their imprint on the city. There’s smoky andouille sausage, tender shrimp, and the holy trinity of celery, bell peppers, and onions, all simmered in a thick, roux-based broth. Every spoonful is profound. Tina’s Jambalaya has short-grain rice studded with prawns, chicken, and andouille sausage. Each spoonful offers herbs, tomatoes, and robust spices. Your focus narrows to the spoon, and all thoughts of its origins – West African jollof or Spanish paella – are pushed aside for a rainy day – there’s enough history on the plate as is. An absolute winner on the menu is the humble Collard Greens. Braising with onions, garlic, broth and bacon fat for hours transforms them into a soft and tender delight with a vinegary finish. On my next visit, I’d want these on the side with my steak (prime rib eye or tenderloin). Fish options include Grouper Pontchartrain (fillet piled high with crab meat, mushrooms, and butter) and Pecan Crusted Salmon. The Roast Baby Chicken comes with Andouille Biscuit stuffing, but I will leave that for another day. Not that I need a reason to go back to Tina’s. It’s the famed Pecan Pie for dessert, and this one is mean.

Roast Baby Chicken Andouille Biscuit Stuffing; Pecan pies; Buttermilk biscuits with Pimento cheese

This restaurant not only serves meals – it serves up a slice of Southern hospitality right in the heart of Bangkok, promising every guest an experience that makes you want to catch the next flight to New Orleans. Perhaps the winning touch is the chef himself – the embodiment of Southern hospitality, happy to talk about his food, his inspiration. David has plenty to say and can be spotted stopping by tables introducing the cuisine, chatting with guests. So head on over, grab a table and let David Cleland transport you to New Orleans.

Tina’s, 7 Soi Suan Phlu, T Sathon, Bangkok 10120 Open daily: Lunch (11.30am to3pm); Dinner(5.30 pm to 11pm); Tel: +66 62 141 6549.

To reserve your spot, Click HERE.

Neetinder Dhillon
With over two and half decades in the media, The Front Row founder Neetinder Dhillon has plenty of stories to tell. As the former editor of several lifestyle, travel, inflight and B2B magazines, she has been in the front row keeping a close eye on news, trends and all things luxe. She subscribes to Pico Iyer’s concept of luxury: In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.

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