Bamboo and Thistles

The name, the d้cor and the food at Bamboo and Thistles reflects company director Michael Harrold’s Scottish heritage as well as his love for Thailand. You will see this blend in the patterns on the dinnerware (bamboo) and linens (thistles), in the menu, and even in the names of some of the specialties. The Big Bamboo breakfast, at 120 baht, is enormous, but so is the Big Thistle at 100 baht. This little restaurant is situated halfway down quiet Soi 1 that runs directly behind the Montri Hotel. Careful, though, if you blink you’ll miss the soi!

It’s difficult to miss Michael Harrold’s enthusiasm, his eagerness to provide quality food in a clean environment and the care with which he has chosen everything from tables and chairs to coffee makers. And he has chosen well. Diners can actually pull up to the tables and comfortably tuck their legs underneath. And wait until you see the sophisticated and automated coffee machine. It does everything but talk to you while measuring the coffee beans for each cup, grinding them and brewing the beverage. No stale-tasting coffee here. So order up a cup at 30 to 50 baht as you wait for your lunch, or go at dinner and enjoy a glass of wine at 60 baht or a beer at 45 to 60 baht. Of course, Bamboo and Thistles also serves a variety of teas, soft drinks, juices and spirits priced at 30 baht up.

The menu features a large breakfast selection at very reasonable prices. Omelets are priced at 50 to 70 baht, cooked breakfasts start at 80 baht for baked beans on toast with a cup of tea or coffee, and muesli and milk is 50 baht. You can also have a seasonal fresh fruit platter or fresh fruit with yoghurt for only 60 baht. This is a menu packed with vegetarian options, and the breakfast selections are no exception.

If you arrive at Bamboo and Thistles at lunchtime, you may want to try one of their sandwiches. Delightfully, they offer whole-wheat or French bread options, your choice, none of that over-refined, sugar laden white dough that so often is wrapped around otherwise perfectly respectable sandwich fillings. Sandwiches are priced at 50 baht. But don’t order yet. Just turn the page and notice the toasted sandwiches and burgers. Priced at 45 to 100 baht, the burgers are served with French fries. If it’s lighter fare you crave, try a salad or bowl of soup. Priced at 40 to 50 baht, the soups are served with bread and butter. Or stick with a side dish of jacket potato. The jacket potato with sour cream, chives and bacon is delightful, and priced at 70 baht for this meal in one dish.

Under “Flavors of Siam”, you will find many of your favorite Thai dishes. All are served with steamed rice. We found the broccoli and prawns to be particularly nice, but the chicken and coconut soup was delightful. Most of the Thai dishes are priced at 50 to 60 baht. We recommend, as does the restaurant, that you and your fellow diners order and eat “Thai style” with an assortment of dishes in the center of the table so that each of you can try a variety of the flavorful foods.

We liked the section of the menu titled “A Taste of Home”, and regret that we didn’t have room to try more of them. The fish and chips were tasty. The fish was quite fresh, battered nicely and served crisp. The farang main meals are priced at 120 to 150 baht, and include a variety of steaks, sausages and savory meat pies.

Now this is the fun part. The puddings and cakes are homemade, and you will surely long for home when you taste the apple and almond sponge pudding with a topping of orange liqueur sauce. Sweets are priced at 50 to 70 baht.

Walk down Soi 1 and meet Michael Harrold. You’ll be happy you did.

Bamboo and Thistles, 2/4 Soi 1 Rachadamnoen Road, Muang, Chiang Mai 50200. Telephone 053-418991 or 07-971-9050. Open 8 a.m. until late, daily except Sundays. Reservations are not necessary. Park on one of the larger adjoining streets.