After a Sunday morning 5K run to kick-start my appetite, I was ready for a burger. Hearing from a few British friends about the “most proper English pub in Bangkok,” I hopped on the Tiger and headed downtown to Sukhumvit 14.
Tucked away at the base of the Asoke BTS station stairway, The Black Swan with its red brick exterior is almost as hidden as Hogwarts secret entrance at platform 9 3/4.
Inside, the pub’s clean and cozy atmosphere makes it a great place to eat, watch a game or exchange Bangkok street smarts over a pint at the bar. It’s English authenticity is increased by the framed black & white photos of England on the wall, a chalkboard with handwritten specials and the traditional wooden decor, including a wooden spiral staircase leading to the second level.
The menu has all the traditional pub comfort food favorites, however, upon opening their tri-fold menu my eyes quickly passed over the fish n’ chips and the bangers and mash and darted straight to the burgers.
7 intriguing burgers make up their burger section and while the cheeseburger and Hawaiian burger both sounded good, it was ‘The Big Boy!’ that really grabbed my attention.
Until now I’ve done my best to keep my burger orders consistent, adhering to the house cheeseburger with bacon. But, after a solid month of no alcohol I had a few calories to spare, so I decided to deviate from the norm and order The Big Boy!
Weighing in at over 500 grams this burger is loaded with quality imported Australian beef, bacon, cheese and a fried egg. Roughly 15 minutes after placing my order the burger arrived at the table, and if my eyes could speak they would have cautioned me that this burger looked almost too much to handle.
Stuffed between a locally baked Israeli sesame seed bun, the two handmade 250g patties were bursting from the sides. Just getting my hands around this heavyweight was a challenge in itself as I prepared for the first bite.
Chomping through bun, bacon, egg, cheese and beef in the first bite unleashed both juice and flavor. The patties were cooked exactly as requested, medium rare, and were nicely pink on the inside and retained loads of meaty flavor. Seasoned with salt, pepper and ‘special seasoning’ the beef was highly flavorful and carried a meatloaf-esque taste, which was different and added a hearty taste of home.
The savory combo of the beef and the fried egg was just what I was looking for, yet the bun and the bacon left me perplexed. The sesame seed bun was soft, had a rich nutty flavor and was probably well suited for the traditionally sized burgers on the menu, but in my opinion it lacked the size to handle The Big Boy. The capacity to absorb the oozing juices just wasn’t there and they overwhelmed the bun as well as completely covered my hands, making a rather messy affair.
Next, the ‘bacon.’ I’m not sure exactly how ‘bacon’ gets lost in translation, but this was the second time in Bangkok where I was expecting crispy bacon on a burger and instead have been served a chewy slice of ham/Canadian bacon. Even though ham does have a similar salty kick, it’s just not the same as crispy American bacon.
At 495 Baht ($15.51) The Big Boy! isn’t the cheapest burger in town, but you certainly won’t be leaving hungry. The other burgers on the menu range from 260 Baht ($8.14) to 395 Baht ($12.37) and are offered in both 150g or 250g patties. If you’re looking for a relaxing place to escape the Sukhumvit chaos or a traditional English breakfast or roast dinner with all the trimmings, The Black Swan should definitely grace your short list. They’re open daily from 8am til late and are easy to find at the Asoke BTS Station.
Burger Juiciness – 5/5
Bun Goodness – 4/5
Cheesy Madness – 2/5
Overall Tastiness – 3/5
Price – 3.5/5
Overall Rating – 3.5/5