There are some venues that just seem to have an immediate
appeal. Fern Forest Café is one of these. Go down the quiet Soi 4, off
Singharaj Road, and you will see the restaurant on your right. Park the car and
walk through the gate and a new world awaits you. Canvas umbrellas over covered
tables, cushioned garden furniture, grass, ferns, trees, more ferns, a
flag-stoned L-shaped courtyard and a house in the grounds. And quiet.
were met by the owner Khun Yai, who said that she had been living in the house
for 30 years, but opened the restaurant only two years ago. When I remarked on
her being open every day from 8.30 a.m. until 8.30 p.m., she said, “Why not? I
Perusal of the small menu shows that it is something more
akin to a bakery that sells food, rather than a restaurant that sells cakes.
Coffee is also obviously a speciality, and the Fern Forest Café grows its own
coffee beans on Doi Saket at an elevation above 1,000 meters.
The beverages on offer (B. 25-50) are plentiful and
imaginative, with interesting items such as hot ginger and various teas and
coffees, as well as something called “Aegle Marmelos”, which I think is a
beverage from Bale juice, but don’t hold me to it.
The bakery items are baked on the premises and in addition to
quiches and assorted sandwiches (B. 60), including my favourite BLT, there were
many dessert items such as coconut cream pie and bale cake, which are on display
in the refrigerated cabinet.
Main dish items tend towards a German fare, with the German
sausages made in Chiang Mai, I was assured by Khun Yai. There appeared to be no
real reason for this choice of cuisine, other than the fact it was simple to
cook and filling!
Khun Yai said she would order for us, as there were items
that she wanted to make sure we tried, and being hungry that lunch time I
agreed. While we waited, the smartly turned out service girls in Lanna jackets
served us with iced fruit drinks in tall glasses, and I literally sat back and
enjoyed the ambience.
The main course arrived as a representative of the various
sausages, plus the German saut้ed potatoes and bacon and onions (a
‘bratkartoffeln mit sweigel’ and forgive mis-spellings)! Different mustards
were also presented to go with them. Mention should be made of the heavy
polished wrought stainless steel cutlery. Again not what I expected in a garden
Coffee came, complete with three different sugars and hot
milk! Again not what I expected, in fact these were small touches that one often
does not see in many restaurants that consider themselves ‘up-market’.
With coffee cam a selection of cakes and desserts. The
coconut cream pie was superb, and Khun Yai told me that an American customer
came every day to have one - and true to her word, he walked in while we were
still there, ordered his pie and sat under the trees with a beatific expression
Other desserts were the famous bale cake, which is a type of
sponge cake served warm, and written in the menu as a ‘Matoon’ cake (and
please don’t ask me why!).
The Dining Out team came away from the Fern Forest Café more
than adequately filled, but more than that, we seemed to have imbibed some of
the ambience. Suddenly the cares of the day seemed less pressing. Perhaps it is
something in the coffee, but whatever it is, it appears to work! I can see why
many people come so regularly and I hope they will forgive me for making public
knowledge of their secret. This is a place to come and relax. Definitely worth a
trip amongst the ferns. By the way, Khun Yai said they are also able to do
outside catering. Something to keep in mind for an afternoon soiree at home.
Fern Forest Caf้é, 2/2 Singharaj Soi 4, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 416
204, fax 053 221 361. Street parking (very quiet soi), open seven days 8.30 a.m.
until 8.30 p.m.