DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

Banrai Steak House

Chiang Mai’s best value steak?

For those who have a good grasp of Thai, the name ‘Banrai’ means the farmer’s house, and as you drive into the courtyard of Banrai Steak House you do look as if you are driving into a rustic Thai type of farmhouse.

The tables and chairs are in that old wooden style, purporting to be made from old ox carts and yolks. Colourful woven placemats are on the tables and there are sauces and spices there as well. Stools are made from sawn off logs. The decor ranges from rural scene watercolours to fish traps and old bicycles. The floors are simple wooden ones. Banrai is not your average steakhouse. Again, the concept is one of a farmhouse.

The menu comes in both written and photo styles, so you do know what you are going to get. It begins with European dishes, with the vast majority B. 99 and most coming with a baked potato and vegetables. This includes a pepper steak, roast fillet of beef, pork spareribs, hamburgers and meatloaf. Over the page for the more expensive items with fish fillet steaks B. 120, salmon steak with mashed potato and salad B. 180, ostrich steak B. 250 and the top of the tree is crocodile steak at B. 290.

The next section is called Appetizer and ranges in price between B. 25 and B. 60 and includes homemade soups and french-fries. Next up are Sandwiches (B. 40-70) with assorted fillings and then salads (B. 40-80) covering most styles and even a salad Nicoise. Fried rice items plus chicken, crab, shrimp, pork, beef, etc., was next (B. 40-80).

The last few pages were drinks, desserts and beers. Even the hot teas offered variety, including English, Chinese, ginger or lemongrass (all B. 20) and the cold items (also B. 20) included Ovaltine and iced lemon tea. There were fresh juices (B. 20) with interesting items such as Indian gooseberry and mango. These are followed by shakes and several styles of the Indian lassi drinks, all at B. 20. Finally choices of desserts and beers, all local and B. 50-80 for local brews.

We were treated to a choice of four dishes from the menu, including their B. 99 pepper fillet steak with jacket potato and vegetables. The others were the salmon steak, ostrich steak and crocodile steaks. These came with either mashed potatoes or jacket potato, complete with a choice of vegetables (carrots, beans and Chinese cabbage), or in the case of the salmon, this came with a garden salad and a very good dressing.

The Dining Out Team of three on this occasion, tried all the different steaks and we all considered that they were cooked and presented correctly - the ostrich deserves a mention here as it is very easy to end up with a very tough steak if overcooked. It was done exceptionally well, correctly cooked and tender all the way through (by the way, if you haven’t tried it, ostrich is a red meat). I also loved the way the mashed potato was done with the salmon steak.

We finished with coffees (Arabica from Doi Inthanon) that were excellent and came with a jug of hot milk. A nice touch you generally do not expect in a steakhouse!

I cannot write this review without coming back to marvel at the BBQ pepper steak at 99 baht. This has to be the bargain of the year. The other dishes we ate were also excellent (for me, the ostrich in particular) and whilst they were all very reasonably priced, the steak for under B. 100 was just sensational value. Go today, just in case they have realized that they are selling this dish too cheaply and put the price up. Quite frankly, I have paid twice as much for steak not half as good as this. Banrai Steak House is a funky place with fine food and fabulous value for money. Go there, enjoy the food and be amazed, as we were!

Banrai Steak House, 94 Charoenraj Road, Chiang Mai, telephone 01 783 7172. Off street parking in courtyard. Open 10 a.m. till 11 p.m.