The menu at the Writers’ Club and Wine Bar invited us to
“make yourself at home in our reading corner or TV lounge”, but we settled
into a nice sidewalk table for a leisurely evening of homemade Thai food and
cold drinks. We had come on a Monday evening, sure to be a sparse crowd so we
would have plenty of opportunity to spend time with the owner and his wife,
Robert and Tong Tilley. We were wrong. No sooner had we picked our table than
the entire place was full. Families and singles, couples and a group of friends
all sat and enjoyed the mild weather, cold drinks and good Thai food.
The Writers Club and Wine Bar became the city’s favorite
spot for journalists and other writers almost as soon as it opened its doors in
2003. Owner Robert Tilley, a veteran of the London Telegraph and the Sunday
Telegraph, remains involved in journalistic pursuits and is currently working
hard as an editor. There are newspapers and magazines in the reading corner.
Reference books and other works are also there, and you are encouraged to borrow
what interests you. Local writers wander in. Reinhard Hohler and Bertil Lintner
exchange ideas and information near the library with Robert and others. Friday
evenings, writers from as far away as the Big Mango come in for a glass of wine
and a bit of networking. And Wednesday nights bring special meetings of
But don’t think you have to be a writer to enjoy an evening
at the Writers Club. Just come prepared for a relaxing evening, no rushed meals
or “fast food” here. Indeed, an insert in the menu points out that fresh
food, prepared to order, takes a little more time and is well worth the effort.
And, unlike the unenviable franchised food that we think of as fast, the chips
are prepared from fresh potatoes and do not come frozen in a bag from the
Although the Writers Club offers a wide range of western
food, we decided to try the Thai selections. We started our meal with fresh
spring rolls, which were served crisp and light, just right for dipping into the
sauce. Our choice of soup was the lovely galangal and lemongrass soup with
chicken, Tom Kha Gai, and it was excellent. Enough spice to be authentic, with a
rich coconut cream base and tender bits of chicken breast. We next tried a red
pork curry and found the pork to be tender and the sauce to be just right. No
overpowering chilies, but a nice “kick” to remind you that you’re eating
the food that Thai families eat – real home cooking. Chicken larb, Isaan style
arrived with the fried rice. The onions were lightly cooked and crisp, and the
chicken spiced just right. My favorite of the evening, though, was a Thai style
spicy salad of snow mushrooms with shrimp. Spicy, yes; tasty, yes; and an
interesting combination of textures, flavors and colors. The snow mushrooms are
like clouds, almost fluffy. The shrimp were cooked just right, and the
seasonings were perfect.
The food at the Writers Club is well priced. Our tom ka gai
was 80 baht, but most of the other dishes are priced at 60 baht. The delicious
snow mushrooms with shrimp is also priced at 80 baht. The restaurant has a good
selection of vegetarian Thai food, all priced at 60 baht.
Although we concentrated on the Thai food, the western food
is equally varied and well priced. Salads and sandwiches begin at 60 baht and
mains such as beef filet in mushroom sauce or ham, asparagus and creamed
potatoes are all priced at a very reasonable 99 baht.
While the Writers Club has a full range of drinks, don’t
forget that the second half of its name is “Wine Bar”. The restaurant stocks
a variety of good wine, and Robert is negotiating for an even more varied
selection. House wines start at a quarter liter for 90-130 baht.
The Writers Club and Wine Bar, 141/3 Rachadamnoen Road T.
Phrasingh, Muang, Chiang Mai 50100. Telephone 01-928-2066. The Writers Club and
Wine Bar is open Sunday through Friday from Midday until Midnight. Parking on