Zest Bakery and Restaurant

Very cosmopolitan eating

Zest Bakery and Restaurant has only recently arrived in the location behind the Thapae Gate, on the corner of Moon Muang and Ratchadamnern Roads. The area has two street frontages with both pavements adjacent to very “Euro” styled tables and umbrellas. Along the Moon Muang side there is a small sit-up bar, for those who only want a cold drink. There are also some waterfalls and ponds, complete with tropical foliage, so the outside diners can remember they are in Thailand, and not the Left Bank in Paris.

From the outside dining you go through the glass doors to a bright and airy section, with American styled ‘diner’ booths alongside high glass windows looking out over the pavement dining area. Indoors is air-conditioned, complete with overhead fans for good circulation. At one end of the area there is a bakery section with breads, cakes and pastries as well as a coffee bar and ice creams. The tiled floor was clean, as were all the tables. It gives the impression of being a well run and well maintained restaurant.

The menu is also cosmopolitan, starting with many breakfasts (American, European, Continental) ranging from 145 baht down to 100 baht, but if your desire is merely cereals, a Thai breakfast or an omelette you can breakfast for less than 65 baht.

Sandwiches and burgers are up next (B. 110-55) with a wide choice of bread styles, after all, it is a bakery too. Seven soup choices, all at B. 50, include pumpkin, tomato, potato, carrot and onion, followed by salads, generally around B. 100.

The next section is called European Food and includes various pastas. Steak, chicken and fish choices are towards the top end (B. 200), while ostrich steak is the most expensive at B. 250. The pastas and pizzas are generally around B. 120.

Thai dishes are next on the menu, with most soups B. 80-100 and appetizers B. 100-250 including grilled river prawns and steamed crab. Continuing in the Thai menu there are several stir-fries, followed by single plate items covering noodles and rice dishes, with some Chinese and others Thai or Malaysian. These are followed by some ‘Macrobiotic’ dishes, which are all vegetarian.

An enormous list of bakery items is next, with cakes and pies generally around B. 20-25, followed by beverages, including local beers around B. 70 for 330 mls and then a long list of ice creams B. 40-65. It should be mentioned that the menu also has photographs of many of the items - always a good idea when you are dealing with diners who may not be able to read English or Thai, the two languages used in the menu itself.

We decided to try the ostrich which came with a cracked black pepper sauce. This was properly done - so top marks for that one, as ostrich can be very tough if not cooked correctly, and was very enjoyable. We followed that with the deep-fried stuffed prawns. These were large and very sweet and almost did not need the sweet plum sauce that came with this dish.

A curry was chosen, a freshwater fish in red curry and Thai herbs, and whilst this was quite spicy, was not over the top. The single bowl serving was large enough for two people. Madame was particularly taken with this choice. We also ordered a pepper steak, to try out the European side of the cuisine, and this came with chips and vegetables, and again was a man-sized meal and cooked to order. We had no further room, but Miss Terry was finished work for the day and sneaked in a well chilled beer to finish.

We found that the Zest Bakery and Restaurant catered for a very cosmopolitan clientele, with a varied Thai and European/American menu with enough choices to keep everyone happy. The food was well cooked and presented, and the pricing was reasonable, and should appeal to the up-market crowd and tourists who want a restaurant with high hygiene standards, as well as just good food.

Zest Bakery and Restaurant, 2-6 Ratchadamnern, Chiang Mai, tel. 053 418 090, 053 225 884, fax 053 215 983.