DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

Tropical Minigolf Restaurant

But you don’t have to take the clubs to the food!

To find a golf course within the city of Chiang Mai would be impossible, but Belgian national Philippe and his Thai wife have gone as close as you can - they have opened a Minigolf course alongside the Ping River on Changklan Road in town. This is a large course, complete with rock cave and grotto, a lake and a waterfall, with course fees being B. 120 for adults and half price for children.

On the evening we went along, the course was being well used by both adults and children; however, we had come to try the food, so I thanked Philippe for the offer of a club, but refused to attempt to emulate Tiger Woods and we went and chose a table from the many alongside the river.

The venue has several rustic wood and leaf roof salas with single tables, plus a couple of larger buildings incorporating a bar area, the kitchens and an entertainment section which features a guitar/singer in the evenings. A little of something for everyone seems to be the raison d’etre.

The menu is very large, with over 140 items, starting with European food. Soups and salads are first (B. 50-80), followed by sandwiches and a hot dog (B. 50-60) and three burgers, served with French (Belgian) fries (B. 60-70).

Spaghetti bolognaise and pizza have their own section and also will not break the bank at B. 90-100, followed by several meat choices all served with fries or mashed potato and vegetables. With rump steak at B. 160 and the most expensive T-bone at only B. 220, this is not an expensive night at the golf course.

The 80 choices of Thai food have the vast majority in the B. 70-80 range, and even the beers are only B. 65-75 for large bottles.

We began with a Thai salad style dish just called Old Fashioned Fried Fish, which was certainly spicy and a favourite for all Thais. For the European palate, this could be just a little too hot, but it certainly is an authentic dish.

This was followed by the Spicy and Sour Shrimp soup with baby coconut. This was spicy also, but a very creamy, rich taste.

Philippe also insisted that we try his European food, which became quite difficult as he had already filled us with his Thai selection. We were given steaks to try, which were quite large, as well as a Belgian red wine stew, which was again a large plateful. I should also point out that our meals were served on hot plates, a little nicety that one does not expect at a very inexpensive venue such as this.

In retrospect, we were offered too many dishes to try, starting with some Thai items. This was probably not the best way to experience the food as the spicy Thai food overpowered the more subtle European items that came afterwards. Being Belgian, I was hoping that those wonderfully smooth Belgian Chimay beers would have been available, but unfortunately no. Perhaps this could be something that Philippe might try to arrange, as I am sure he would get a following, even if just for the beer!

The restaurant had only been open for one month when we called, and it was obvious that it was still, at that stage, finding its feet. Some items that we tried were not yet on the menu, showing that this too was in a state of flux. The venue is ideal for those who have young children who can be pointed at the first hole and the parents can eat in peace until the 18th! This is another Chiang Mai venue that is trying hard and deserves an evening (or lunch). It does not pretend to be haute cuisine, but the dishes are certainly enormous serves. You will not leave hungry, even if you decide on 36 holes. At the very inexpensive prices quoted in the menu, you will not have to raid an ATM either.

Tropical Minigolf and Restaurant, 27 Changklan Road, Chiang Mai, telephone 07 909 5137. Open seven days, 10 a.m. until 12 midnight. Secure parking alongside.