One of the first western food restaurants I used to frequent when I moved to Bangkok, Thailand was Delifrance. With branches in many Bangkok malls, it was a nice cafe to sit and enjoy a latte or a quick pastry, sandwich or croissant. Recently, as more and better western-style restaurants and cafes open in Bangkok, I’ve stopped eating at Delifrance and here’s why.
Locations of Delifrance in Bangkok – Delifrance branches are usually situated in convenient locations in Bangkok. Either in large shopping malls all over the city or on main Bangkok streets, it’s easy to find a Delifrance cafe for a quick lunch or a snack. Split up into Delifrance bistros (more of a sitdown restaurant style) or Delifrance cafes (a quick stop cafe to grab a bite and a drink), my favorite branches are at Central Ladprao mall, the United Center on Silom Road and at Q-House on Sathorn Road.Delifrance has also expanded to other Asian countries with branches in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and China.
Atmosphere at Delifrance – Supposedly based on a typical French bistro, Delifrance in Bangkok is actually quite a letdown when it comes to design and atmosphere. Cafes and bistros are sterile entities, that have obviously been designed for shopping malls. Tables are too small and chairs uncomfortable. The absolute worst Delifrance for atmosphere (although great for people watching) is the branch at Central Ladprao. Stuck up on the top floor mezzanine, overlooking the mall, it’s open to two of the four sides so there’s a constant rush of people. But, even worse is it’s location right next to a music shop – with constant drumming and the testing of electric guitars and other music equipment, it makes it difficult to enjoy a relaxing lunch when that noise is screeching in your ears.
Food at Delifrance – Although quite popular with expats and Thais, the food at Delifrance is only average and, in past years, has gotten much worse.In their cafe and bistro branches, Delifrance serves various soups, salads, pizzas and sandwiches, with a few hot entrees as well. Their beef bolognaise spaghetti is quite good, the pork stew isn’t bad and most of their sandwiches and pastries are nice enough. As you can see from my ho-hum descriptions though, the food is nothing special. It’s average, a bit bland, western-style food that leaves you feeling you’ve eaten but nothing more.
The main problem with much of what Delifrance serves though is how long it sits there and how stale it becomes. By mid-afternoon a sandwich or slice of pizza is looking old and tired. Sure, the sandwiches are made fresh while you wait and the pizzas are heated, but when the bread (and pizza) has been sitting at a counter for 6 hours and the fillings that go in it also, the last thing you can take is ‘fresh’.Their coffee drinks and lattes too all seem to come from mixes, so they don’t taste particularly good and lattes are often served lukewarm, which I hate.
You Have to Pay for Wi-Fi at Delifrance – Whereas most cafes in Bangkok now offer free Wi-Fi internet, Delifrance is still in the dark ages (along with Starbucks) and is charging for it. Now, if I’m going to have to spend another few hundred baht to buy a Wi-Fi card to access Delifrance’s internet when every other cafe within a few hundred yards offers it for free, where do you think I’m going to eat? Not Delifrance, that’s for sure.
Prices at Delifrance – For an inexpensive meal in Bangkok, prices at Delifrance are good. You can get a plate of spaghetti for 99 baht ($3) and a decent sized sandwich for 109 baht ($3.30). Pastries start at 50 baht ($1.30) and ice cream sundaes (which are large) for 50-80 baht ($1.30-2.35).
Normally now, I’ll stop in at Delifrance in Bangkok maybe once every three months simply if there’s nothing else close by. With so many excellent western-style restaurants to choose from though, Delifrance is usually last on my list and, until their quality of food change, it’s likely to stay that way.