La Brasserie

Dining in style with the Empress

With Chiang Mai getting so many new dining out venues, it is easy to forget that our well established hotels can also have well established restaurants. One such is the La Brasserie restaurant at the Empress Hotel on Chang Klan Road, so following an invitation from GM Kanog Suvannavisutr, the Dining Out Team accepted with interest. It was also a mixed celebration for the team, with Miss Terry Diner doing her last Chiang Mai review but accompanied by our new reviewer, Gina Hahn.

La Brasserie’s ambience is quiet and comfortable. The service staff, who welcomed us very warmly, were outfitted in the long French aprons. Seating is free-standing as well as some more intimate alcoves, with the tables covered with heavy linen tablecloths, complete with silver candelabra. Heavy old-style cutlery complete the total picture of genteel dining.

The menu is not extensive, but representative of items that you would expect at a cosmopolitan style restaurant. Appetizers (B. 160-260) covering Canadian smoked salmon, German Black Forest ham and Pate de maison are followed by four soups (B. 70-90) and four salads (B. 60-95 plus the Caesar salad for two prepared at the table for B. 220).

Seafood items (B. 240-310) cover a rock lobster thermidor style and a poached rainbow trout Imperatrice which sounded very interesting. There is also a section of chef’s recommendations, all under B. 360 with items covering beef, NZ lamb chops, duckling and chicken.

The charcoal grilled section has sirloin, rib-eye and tenderloin cuts of steak which are sold at B. 2.40 per gram for a minimum of 180 grams, which works out at around B. 430.

There are also items flamed at the table (B. 300-420) with two steak choices and two prawn items as well.

Desserts include crepes suzette and choices of coffee. There is also a representative choice in wines, with wine specials at only B. 750, however, do remember that this is a hotel, so prices are plus service and plus VAT.

We began with a traditional French onion soup for me, which came with the bread and cheese floating in the middle, giving forth to some lovely cheesy ‘strings’ while eating. It was traditional and it was excellent. Madame (Gina Hahn) had decided on the Caesar salad and this was prepared at the table by our ever-so-enthusiastic young waiter, and it was ever-so-good, with a lovely sharpness on the tongue. A great start to our evening. By the way, GM Kanog suggested the Butterfly Ridge wine, which is an Australian standard and goes very well with everything.

For mains, which were presented at the table on hot plates under silver cloches, Madame had chosen the flamed river prawns and I had chosen the flamed pepper steak (from the US according to GM Kanog), both dishes done again at the table, with all the drama and theatre that goes with flaming. The presentations were excellent, and the food likewise, with the vegetables contained in a scooped out baby squash.

We finished with the locally grown Arabica coffee, and I was unable to turn down their Irish coffee, again a lavish presentation beside the table. (If you have got the opinion that I am a sucker for theatre - then you are quite correct. It just adds to the enjoyment every time!)

La Brasserie was certainly a good reminder that we should not forget some of our established venues, just because they have been there for some time. This venue was one chosen by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit during her holiday in the North, and the Dining Out Team can see why. It was for us a very pleasant evening in a very pleasant venue. It was relaxed, the food was excellent and I enjoyed the ‘theatre’ that went with much of the dishes prepared at the table. Food should always be fun as well as sustenance. The prices were also exceptionally reasonable for the standard received. Very highly recommended.

La Brasserie, The Empress Hotel, 199/42 Chang Klan Road, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 270 240, fax 053 272 467, email empcnx @samart.co.th. Open seven days, 6.30 p.m. until 11 p.m. Secure parking within the hotel compound.