There are many international cuisines represented amongst
the Chiang Mai restaurants, and this week it is a fairly recent arrival on the
classical French scene that was the subject of our review.
In the heart of the Night Bazaar area on Changklan Road is
the Chiang Mai Pavilion. On the ground floor is the well-known McDonalds fast
food restaurant - but that was not the restaurant under scrutiny! On the next
floor up in the Chiang Mai Pavilion is La Veranda, run by Sonjai (a sweet
French speaking Thai lady) and husband Gilles Poitevin, a very French chef.
They established this restaurant one year ago.
Not only is the restaurant upstairs, it is up-market too.
Even approaching the restaurant this is quite apparent, with tasteful (sorry
about the pun) flowers and greenery decorating the passageways to the
That the restaurant is French is also immediately apparent,
with a large map of old Paris on one wall, and other French art works,
including pictures of the half-finished Eiffel Tower. The dining area appears
very airy, with full length windows on two sides.
The terracotta tiles and glass topped tables, with wrought
iron and cane chairs also add to the continental classy ambience.
Like most restaurants, the menu is under constant revision,
and with low season approaching, Gilles told me that he was going to be
introducing some different (and somewhat less expensive) items to the list. He
is also enlarging the ‘set’ menu items to six, starting at 290 baht and
running through to 590 baht.
The menu begins with hors d’oeuvres including a marinated
salmon with dill, blinis and seaweed (B. 350) and snails (escargot) in garlic
butter (B. 390). Soups are next up (B. 250-390) and then fish items (B.
350-650) with such mouth watering offerings as banana sailfish with champagne
Meat dishes are next (B. 360-700) with beef, duck and
chicken featured in various ways with differing sauces, and then it’s into
the desserts including an imperial souffl้ with violet flower. Finally
there are examples of the set menus. The two on offer on the day we attended
were both of three courses (one at B. 390 and the other at B. 490), with the
choice of main dishes almost covering the entire cost of the set.
Gilles has an extensive wine selection too, with bottles
from B. 700 upwards, or B. 120 per glass.
We began with a selection of the hors d’oeuvres, with
such French specialities as snails in garlic butter and fricasseed frog legs.
For those who have not tried, pretend it is chicken, the taste is very
similar. We were all immediately taken by the faultless presentation of the
dishes, as well as the cooking.
In our selection of mains, the crab souffl้ was
simply superb, with the Aioli sauce sensational. Yes, it was that good! The
lamb and mushroom sauce was tender with again a delicate sauce that
complemented the lamb, and did not overpower it. The other choices were also
The Dining Out Team was impressed by this restaurant. The
fact that chef Gilles spent many years at Maxim’s in Paris shows in his
classical approach to the menu items. What elevates many dishes from
‘ordinary’ to sublime, with French cuisine in particular, is the sauces.
Gilles’ sauces are superb. The pepper sauce for the steak was not the usual
cream, gravy and a handful of peppercorns, but a skilfully blended taste
sensation that set the palate tingling. Likewise the Aioli sauce which was
made from garlic, saffron, potato and olive oil was superb and just lifted the
crab souffl้ to new heights.
La Veranda is a restaurant for those who enjoy the finer
things in life - especially food! It is not cheap - but the better things in
life never are. It is more than a ‘special occasion’ restaurant as the new
low season menu may place it as a more regular culinary treat. Highly
recommended. Do yourself a favour and try this restaurant. The food is
La Veranda French Restaurant, 145 Chiang Mai Pavilion (Night Bazaar),
Changklan Road, Chiang Mai, telephone and fax 053 818 495. Parking behind the
building. Amex, Visa and MasterCard accepted.