recently took a “Sentimental Journey” to some of our favorite places, where
long ago and far away we knew beautiful restaurants serving fine French cuisine
in romantic settings overlooking the water. Combos of musicians strummed softly
in the background, never distracting us from the food or conversation. But our
journey didn’t take us across the ocean or to any city other than our own
The restaurant that brought back the wonderful memories is
the beautiful Le Crystal on the Ping River. The building, reminiscent of Lanna
heritage, would be comfortable in any grand city. It’s spacious and
contemporary, with windows stretching its height and warm wood wrapping around
it. It was designed to be an elegant restaurant, and you feel that elegance when
you walk through the doors.
There are two levels plus outside on a deck overlooking the
garden. Upstairs is a private dining room that seats ten. Tucked into a corner
downstairs are tables for those who want to enjoy a glass of wine and listen to
the music undisturbed by the movement of waiters. Ask to see the wine cellar.
The wines come from all over the world, but the country most represented is
France. Notice the cigar humidor. Notice the collection of liqueurs.
We began our dinner with a selection of appetizers – foie
gras terrine, salmon tartar, pea soup with frog legs, and Caesar salad mixed
tableside. The foie gras was served with braised grapes and the dish was
drizzled with port wine and jelly. This was a creamy foie gras, not a rustic
one, although I find each style appealing. It is priced at 890 baht. Fresh
Atlantic salmon tartar soon arrived, surrounded by a bed of chilled, raw
zucchini and a plate decorated with just enough mustard and olive oil. This dish
was fresh, fresh, fresh, and priced at 320 baht. The waiter rolled a trolley to
our table and began to prepare a Caesar salad. The baby romaine was crisp, and
the salad included all of the classic ingredients in generous portions. This
salad is priced at 250 baht. Last to arrive was a generous bowl of creamy pea
soup. A poached egg was centered in the soup, and a small spoonful of caviar
rested on the egg. Roasted frog legs surrounded the poached egg. Gina deftly
downed the caviar before any of her fellow diners noticed it. The soup is
unique, hearty, and priced at 420 baht. The appetizers we tried were delicious
and are highly recommended.
Tiny servings of mango sorbet cleansed our palates, and we
pushed bravely on.
Main Course selections included duck a l’orange, grilled skate wing, and
seafood bouillabaisse. The duck was tender and the sauce delicious. Although not
an unusual dish, this one was very well prepared and quite tasty. It is priced
at 420 baht and served with potatoes and steamed vegetables. The skate wing
challenged us until a team member explained that skate is a type of small
stingray, one of those feared creatures we spent many summers avoiding as
children swimming in the bay. The “wing” was served roasted on a bed of
chili beans with a light butter sauce, and was an equally challenging eating
experience. It is filled with edible cartilage, or the meat can be removed by
simply scraping a fork down it. We enjoyed this new eating experience. The skate
wing is priced at 590 baht. The seafood bouillabaisse, priced at 650 baht, was
filled with fresh seafood that floated in a thick, rich sauce. It was quite
nice. Then we had a rare treat. The owner arrived at our table and asked if we
would try the sole Veronique, a filet of fresh sole served with a rich cream
sauce and topped with fresh peeled grapes. Priced at 450 baht, this was our
favorite dish of the evening. It was incredibly rich, flavorful, and delightful.
But we weren’t allowed to end our meal without a sampling
of desserts. A warm chocolate souffl้, Tokaji mousse, and a tasty cr่me
brul้e with a fun touch were served. The cr่me brul้e sat on a
caramelized sugar “spider”, but we thought it looked more like a tiny
spacecraft. Desserts are priced from 180 baht, and not a spoonful was left.
Le Crystal also has an extensive coffee, tea and special
coffee menu. We never got there, so, of course, we must try again.
Le Crystal, 74/2 Patan Road, Muang, Chiang Mai, Tel. 053-872-890-1, Fax
053-872-892, email [email protected] rant.com, [email protected]
stalrestaurant.com, www.lecry stalrestaurant.com. Open daily for lunch 11:30
a.m. until 2 p.m., dinner 6:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Transportation available
from any downtown location. Special menu at lunch every day that starts at only
320 baht, and on holidays. Email for further information.