DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

Le Grand Lanna

French cuisine in a Thai ambience

The Le Grand Lanna Resort complex is rapidly becoming somewhat of a Thai cultural shrine, so it was with interest that the Dining Out team received an invitation to try their latest addition - a kitchen and dining area dedicated to French cuisine.

Since our last trip out to Le Grand Lanna, more building has taken place and the new cooking school is nearing completion. The French dedicated dining room is called the Chedi Room, situated close to an old chedi in the grounds, surrounded by bamboo. The room itself is in keeping with the other Le Grand Lanna buildings - traditional Thai with extensive use of wood, a high tent roof and reconstructed heavy wood beams and supports. Along one side of the dining room is a glassed in and temperature controlled wine cellar, while at the far end are Thai artefacts again behind glass. The other long side overlooks the bamboo gardens. Floors are polished wood, and the room is air-conditioned.

The table settings are superb, with Thai silk woven runners along the top, glasses etched with the Le Grand Lanna logo and hand crafted stainless steel cutlery. Red silk napkins and comfortable chairs with arms complete the traditional style of a Thai house of a bygone era.

In line with the exclusivity of the Chedi Room, the menu is small but well balanced. It begins with hors d’oeuvres, with marinated salmon and Lanna salad with sea scallops at the lower end (250 baht), or shrimp salad (B. 400) or a spectacular foie gras with apples and gewurztraminer at B. 1,300.

Only two soups are offered (B. 300 and 340) - a Mediterranean fish or a Guinea fowl with foie gras, followed by four mains (B. 550-1,250) with a salmon served with a Genevoise sauce at the low end, moving up through king prawns thermidor, to two choices of filet mignon with pepper sauce or foie gras.

Finally there are two desserts (B. 200 and 250) with a back chocolate mousse with cocoa meringue and white chocolate mousse with coulis of raspberries or a poached Chinese pear in red wine sauce and ice cream.

Wines? Well you can order directly from the wine cellar in the room, or house wine by the glass at B. 240, or by bottle, starting at B. 1,000 to 6,000.

We began with a lovely shrimp salad served with the contrasting tastes of cantaloupe, beetroot, melon and pineapple with organically grown garden greens tossed with an interesting vinaigrette. I also tasted the marinated salmon which was also excellent.

We followed the hors d’oeuvres with the Mediterranean fish soup which was served with croutons on the side. There were enough prawns, fish and scallops to make this a very tasty item on its own, and I enjoyed it immensely.

For mains we tried the salmon fillet in Genevoise sauce. A very light sauce, which did not overpower the inherent taste of the salmon, perhaps more the other way round. Despite our protestations, it was insisted that we try the poached Chinese pear, with the crunchy texture contrasting well against the smoothness of the ice cream and red wine sauce. Sheer calorific indulgence (especially in the middle of the day when we visited).

It was a surprising lunch at Le Grand Lanna’s Chedi Room. The French style in cooking was followed faultlessly, and there was no getting away from the fact that we felt cosseted and pampered by the Thai traditionally dressed service staff. It was a case of up-market dining in decidedly up-market surroundings. The food was French and excellent and the ambience delightful. While it is certainly not the place for bargain eating, there are other establishments charging similarly, without the style of Le Grand Lanna.

Dining in the Chedi Room, lunch or dinner, is by reservation only and is ideally suited for specific occasions or important business lunches. There would be no-one who would not be impressed by the food and the surroundings. A place to keep in mind for those ‘special’ events. Highly recommended.

The Chedi Room, Le Grand Lanna, 51/4 Chiang Mai - Sankampaeng Road, M.1, Tambon Tasala, Chiang Mai, tel. 053 262 569, email [email protected]