Dining Out at Primavera Mediterranean Restaurant

When Kabchan Wongtun found the location on Moonmuang Road, she knew immediately that she wanted to open a restaurant there. It’s roomy, with dining areas both indoors and out. The kitchen is small, but adequate. And while it’s near the heart of the tourist district, it’s also easily accessible to Chiang Mai residents. With a little help from friends, she was able to negotiate the lease and redecorate. A new sign went up announcing Primavera Mediterranean Restaurant, and “Mint” opened her doors.

The Dining Out team recently joined Mint for a sampling of Greek and Spanish fare. The evening was cool, and we sat outside near the sidewalk at the comfortable tables and chairs there. The Thai menu features standard dishes from fried rice to pad Thai and minced pork with basil. Mint is a native of Lampang, and preparing good Thai food comes as naturally to her as breathing. But we were there for the Greek and Spanish food, and eager to try it. Greek salad, moussaka and seafood paella were our choices for the evening.

The Greek salad arrived, and the colors and crispness announced that the vegetables were fresh, fresh, fresh. Mint goes to the market every day, and she carefully chooses the freshest of colorful bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and other ingredients. The black, pitted olives are big, and the hand that chopped the feta cheese was generous. We found the olive oil dressing to be light, the perfect accompaniment to this complexity of flavors. Minced herbs dusted the top of the vegetables. And we were grateful for “real” lettuce. Not a trace of iceberg was to be found! This is a hearty salad, and could well be your lunch. It’s priced at 120 baht. Primavera also offers salade Nicoise at 120 baht, which contains the same wonderful fresh vegetables as well as tuna and hard-boiled eggs. Horiatiki salad, which is simply another version of Greek salad, is also on the menu at 120 baht. Other salads start at 60 baht and include Caesar salad, tomato and anchovy salad and fresh asparagus with Hollandaise sauce. This is a menu a vegetarian can love.

Seafood paella was set before us, and included a generous serving of mixed seafood. Priced at 150 baht, this dish was topped with colorful fresh pepper and onion rings, black olives and salad tomatoes. Other seafood dishes include fresh salmon with butter sauce at 180 baht, grilled sea bass with black pepper sauce at 150 baht and a fried fish platter served with lemon sauce at 150 baht. All are very reasonable prices for fresh fish courses. Primavera also serves prawns with tamarind sauce at 180 baht.

Pasta dishes include spaghetti seafood, spaghetti with ham and mushrooms in a cream sauce and spaghetti Bolognese. A good meat lasagna is also offered. Pasta dishes are priced at 120 baht per serving. Beefsteak with garlic sauce and a simple chicken steak are also on the menu, as is duck l’orange. Surprisingly, chili con carne also appears and sounds interesting. These dishes range from 120 to 280 baht.

We were tempted by the aromatic grilled rack of lamb at 320 baht, but ordered moussaka instead. It’s been a favorite for years. This is a wonderful dish that combines eggplant and minced meat and is topped with a thin layer of creamed potatoes before it’s baked to a golden brown. The variations on moussaka are endless. As with most classics, each cook prepares it somewhat differently. Most, however, include onions, tomatoes and sauces that leave the mixture moist and tasty. My favorite variation includes a healthy shake of nutmeg. Mint does this dish especially well, and not a morsel was left in the bowl when we finally put our forks down. It is priced at 200 baht and highly recommended.

We looked at the empty dishes and discovered that not a morsel was in any of them. We encouraged Mint to expand her Greek offerings. Chiang Mai will enjoy more Mediterranean food.

Primavera Mediterranean Restaurant, 125 Moon-muang Road, T. Sriphoom, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50200. Opposite the Rydges Amora Tapae Hotel. Open 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily. Telephone 04-045-8878. No reservations necessary. Parking on the street, and usually available at night.