Fondue House

Gina Hahn

There is something so very elegant about the Fondue House that it immediately comes to mind when you’re planning a special occasion. The little private alcoves remind you of romantic movies and glamorous stars toasting each other with perfectly chilled glasses of Krug in quaint Parisian caf้s. But the new long tables on the other side of the room also provide plenty of room for parties. The staff is attentive but not intrusive, and the service is excellent without a trace of snobbishness. Most of all, though, the food is superb. This is fine French dining. But don’t save the Fondue House just for special occasions. Indulge yourself.

If you can only imagine fondue served in front of a roaring fire with snow banked outside, then don’t despair. Just try the French selections. The Fondue House serves excellent fondue, which we enjoy, but on our most recent visit we decided to sample the chef’s best French selections. We were not disappointed.

The Fondue House offers both hot and cold appetizers, and we began our dinner with home-style pork pโt้. This robust pโt้ was served traditionally with little cornichon pickles and garlic toast. This is my favorite of their cold appetizers. If you prefer a hot appetizer, try the fresh creamed mushrooms on toast. Delicious. Appetizers range in price from 130 to 240 baht.

The appetizers were followed by beef consomm้, hot and flavorful with tender morsels of meat hidden at the bottom of the bowl. This is a light soup; perfect for summer, but the chef also prepares a variety of cream based soups that are delightful. A few weeks ago, we sampled a creative soup that was literally ฝ bowl of pumpkin soup and ฝ bowl of cream of corn soup. It was a treat for the eye and for the palate as well. I can also recommend the prawn bisque with brandy, reminiscent of that prepared by Cajun Chef Justin Wilson. The flavor is deep and rich, and you will be disappointed when you see the bottom of your bowl appear. Our consomm้ was followed by a delightful salad. Tossed mixed greens, lightly dressed, filled one side of the plate. Fresh chunks of beet were arranged in another, then shrimp and finally a small piece of boneless seared fish. Each complimented the other, and together made an outstanding salad that could be equally at home as a luncheon main dish. Soups and salads are priced at 75 to 230 baht.

One member of our Dining Out team has been known to make hotel arrangements based on the availability and quality of the chef’s fois gras. We were not disappointed by the imported French fois gras that was served with our filet mignons. It brought a moment of reverent silence to the table. It was delicious and perfectly prepared. The steaks were prepared as ordered, generous in size, flavorful and tender. Fresh vegetables, both steamed and roasted accompanied our entrees. The range of main courses offered is extensive – fish and seafood, poultry, fondues and meats. There is something for every palate. Our diners also recommended the snapper filet with mango sauce, the duck breast with apple caramel and Calvados, and the beef fondue that is cooked not in oil but in red wine. Mains start at 185 baht and go up to 960 baht for the imported Swiss cheese fondue, which is highly recommended.

Sweets vary from traditional Cr๊pes Suzette to fresh fruit sabayon. Fresh mango picked from the tree in the garden outside and served with crisp pastries and a complimenting sauce delighted us. Its sweet taste and creamy consistency simply reminded us that we were in Thailand.

Be sure to ask about off the menu items when you visit the Fondue House, or ask when you phone for reservations. The menu is French but the chef is Thai. He knows the local market well, and makes daily use of what’s fresh and good.

The Fondue House, 18/1 Airport Road, Chiang Mai, across the road from Customs and Immigration Offices. Telephone 09-432-1688, 01-594-0750 or 053-201-511. Open daily for lunch, 12 noon – 2 p.m. and for dinner, 6 – 10 p.m. Parking inside the gates of the restaurant or on the side street.