In the shadows of Wat Langka, amid the hollering tuk-tuk drivers and expat hangouts, a new late-night venue is making a stir – by day as well as night.
Duplex, the latest venture by the owners of Pontoon and Pulse, held a raucous party to celebrate its opening last weekend – think renaissance archways, disco lights and ’80s tunes. Come sunrise, however, the place relaxes into an airy café, with earthy tones and bamboo furnishings.
A pit stop for an early evening gin and tonic brought me through the doors last week to discover a creative and wholesome menu and its elegant creator, co-owner and manager Madalina Avasilcai.
“The concept for Duplex started out as a vegetarian restaurant, we decided to create the night club afterwards,” she explained, adding that the menu now extends to vegan and meat dishes.
Half-Romanian, half-Jordanian, Avasilcai brings a fusion of Middle Eastern and European flavours to the table. “I was really inspired by my grandmother’s cooking. I have Arab roots and loved things like tabouleh, hummus and pita bread,” she explained.
However, it’s a family recipe for homemade alcohol that really puts the zing in Duplex’s menu. “My grandmother used to make her own flavoured alcohol – she would leave fruits in the bottle to give the alcohol its flavor,” recalled Avasilcai.
Having been titillated by the gin and tonic, which came with cucumber and rosemary, an array of infused rums and vodkas also beckoned. Duplex on the Frozen Beach ($4.50) was next on the hit-list – a stylish vodka-based cocktail with orange juice, mango puree, peach liquer, cranberry juice and homemade grenadine syrup. A neat slice of orange peel, branded with the word “Duplex”, was perched on top.
As a snack, I ordered the whole-grain, multi-seeded pitas and hummus ($3.90) which, served with a dash of rosemary-infused oil, was a treat for a bread fiend. To follow, the aubergine, gorgonzola and thyme lasagna ($7.50) proved rich, creamy and filling – a good dish for those who are wary of vegetarian options.
A friend raved about his tangy smoked salmon and cheese guacamole ($5.90), and a fellow foodie enjoyed a fresh and light cannellini bean salad ($4.50) from a Tuscan recipe. Raw desserts are also on offer.
Our visits coincided with Duplex’s opening week, so although service was sometimes slow, this was compensated for by the attentive staff. The insistence on critical customer feedback indicates a passion for quality food. Combined with the bustle of the opening night, it’s a promising sign of good things to come on Street 278.
Duplex is located at #3 Street 278.