A dark, moody ‘workshop’ space where diners eat some of Bangkok’s better burgers while sipping carefully concocted cocktails, Iron Fairies Thonglor epitomizes the Sutton formula.
By Paul Cypert
You can’t really call yourself a Bangkok Foodie and not have dined or sipped in an Ashley Sutton conceptualized establishment. In the last few years the restaurateur has developed a series of intimate, stylized venues into a mini-empire reminiscent of David Chang in NYC. That he’s built a more or less lasting presence on one of Bangkok’s most fickle streets (the ever-changing, trendy Thonglor) makes the victories that much more impressive.
One of the earliest and most talked about of these venues was Iron Fairies. A dark, moody “workshop” space where diners ate some of Bangkok’s better burgers while sipping carefully concocted cocktails, Iron Fairies epitomized the Sutton formula – a small space, with a simple concept, featuring a highlight dish, and signature drink. The metal figurine fairies that give the venue its name, is another accent point for patrons to remember. It was an instant hit, which attracted hi-so Thais and expats alike.
As anyone who’s worked in restaurants knows, the landlord/restaurateur relationship is a delicate one. A successful restaurant seems to mean they can get more rent, neighbours complain about the large crowds gathering around the restaurant, or any combination of about 99 other problems cause many an outlet to have to relocate the minute it finds some measure of success. Sadly for the many Iron Fairies regulars, this was the case, with Ashley and team having to move the iconic location (but thankfully only a few doors down).
Does the new venue capture the same formula as the old one? Well, they certainly didn’t attempt to break the mold in the move. They literally just doubled the original venue. So if you enjoyed the decor and ambiance of the first spot, you have more of the same here. For some this can be great as there’s a better chance you can squeeze your large group in now. For others this could mean the loss of a small measure of charm, because it’s not as intimate.
Thankfully the new Iron Fairies didn’t go the route of Fat’r Gutz, which lost most of the original’s feel, charm, and food quality in exchange for a larger venue and expanded menu. They did grow the drink and food menu some, adding in some speciality cocktails to match Bangkok’s new obsession with chemistry class mixed drinks. We sampled a smoky mixed drink topped with a burned piece of seaweed that was about 500 percent better than what I just described should taste.
On the negative side, service is a bit iffy and spacey even by Thai standards, the drinks and food are creeping upwards in price, and if you’re over 5’5″ or 70kg, you might have a bit of issue navigating the interior. But all that said, it’s not an outlet built to appeal to all patrons.
You’ll know within five seconds if this is your kind of place or not so if you’ve yet to visit, we’d say head down.
394 Thonglor, Sukhumvit 55, Bangkok (BTS: Thonglor)
Opening hours: 6 p.m.- 2 a.m.