The Dining Out year in retrospect

It has been a good year in Chiang Mai for discerning diners. Many new restaurants have appeared, and fortunately, not too many have gone to the wall.

The gap between Xmas and New Year also gives Miss Terry Diner a chance to sit back and think about the restaurants that have made a lasting impression (and for all of you who have wondered if she is a real person, just say Miss Terry Diner very quickly).

Of course these annual reviews only consider the 52 restaurants visited in the past year, so if your favorite restaurant doesn’t get a mention, it may be simply for that reason. A stand-out example is To Nobody, a personal favorite of mine, but not reviewed in the past 12 months. Another is the new Fillmore East, sampled in 2004, but the review will come out next week, in 2005. So, in no particular order, here are some restaurants that left that lasting impression.

For a new way of presenting an old concept, Just Khao Soy comes to mind. Shane Beary has elevated the humble Khao Soy to an ‘art form’ and the new additions to the menu, done with a similar presentation, has made this an outstanding venue. When I originally reviewed the restaurant I said that it should be franchised. Shane tells me that he is now ready, so expect to see a very flavorsome ‘export’ going out from Chiang Mai.

Another ‘new’ venture is the House of Palm. This was originally a restaurant called the ‘Jitlada’ in Los Angeles. It was famous for its food and for the clientele that included the Sultan of Brunei. It was a restaurant that gained rave reviews in America, and after 17 years in LA was a Thai institution, but the owners Tim and Montri, like so many Thais, wanted to come home. And home is Doi Saket. For a perfect Thai evening, the restaurant and the setting is superb.

A ‘funky’ place I liked was Buonissimo. Italian, run by an Italian and serves very good Italian food. Well worth a visit and won’t destroy your wallet.

Another great little place is The Pub. Landlord Grahame said, “We are a pub that sells food, not a restaurant that sells beer.” For me, the Pub is really a restaurant that sells food, AND a pub that sells beer! Sometimes you can get the best of both worlds.

Lunch is just as important as dinner, and one place to remember is the Amari. It is hard to fault the Amari Buffet. The surroundings are elegant and relaxed and the food excellent. With the daily changes of buffet items, I can see why many Chiang Mai residents will go for the buffet more than once in any week.

A ‘cheapie’ that was a stand-out was Brownie Steak and Bakery. An all you can eat buffet costing B. 59. On offer are chicken, beef, pork and fish, with a good buffet covering many salad items, and then enough salad dressings and steak sauces, this then has to be good value for money, before you even begin to eat.

Saenkham Terrace must be mentioned here. The food is of high standard, the venue sensational, and the prices very reasonable. This restaurant remains one of the best Lanna experiences available in Chiang Mai.

Another surprise was my evening at the Grillstation. This is certainly a restaurant for large portions of good European food. It is very moderately priced, and the children’s menu does make this a restaurant for the family.

Finally, I also went to Chiang Rai for one culinary trip. The River House is well worth visiting. I can wholeheartedly recommend this restaurant, in fact since Chiang Rai is only two and a half hours away from Chiang Mai by road, go up for the weekend!

Just Khao Soy, 108/2 Charoenprathet Road, Changklan, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 818 641.

The House of Palm, 162/6 M. 5, Tambon Rongnau, Amphur Soisaket, (13.2 km north from the superhighway in the direction of Chiang Rai. 2 km before you reach Doi Saket, opposite Doi Saket hospital there is a mini-mart called IMF, turn left there and the entrance is 50 meters along the soi.) Telephone 053 291 401.

Buonissimo, La Trattoria del Sergio, 111/5 Moo 3, Chiangmai-Prao Road, Faham Muang, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 853 098-9.

The Pub, 189 Huay Keaw Road, (just past the Rincome intersection heading outbound), Chiang Mai, telephone 053 211 550.

The Amari Rincome Hotel, La Gritta Restaurant, 1 Nimmanahaeminda Road, T. Suthep, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 221 130.

Brownie Steak and Bakery, 421 Charoenrat Road, Chiang Mai (200 m from Wat Faharn).

Saenkham Terrace Restaurant, Clubhouse Ban Naifan 2, 199/163 Tambon Maehea, A. Muang Chiang Mai, 50100, telephone 053 838 9.

The Grillstation, 23/8 Charoenprathed Road (directly opposite Porn Ping Tower), Chiang Mai, telephone 053 818 355.

The River House Coffee Shop Restaurant, River House, Chiang Rai, 482 Moo 4, Tambon Rimkok, Amphur Muang Chiang Rai, telephone 053 750 830.