DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

Sunday jazz brunch at The Chedi:  By Robert Carl

At a base cost of B990 per person (plus beverage, plus added tip, plus 7% vat) the end result is about B1500 per person. Pricey, but like all things, quality costs. Most Sunday brunches at mid-range hotels cost about B400-450 per person. The quality of food, the ambiance and the jazz ensemble make this brunch “worth” twice the common cost, but the question is how many people want or need that degree of quality.
The food is beautifully presented: a cold food area with a variety of salads mixed with seafood; fresh mozzarella and tomato; an iced bowel displayed some of the largest fresh shrimp that I have seen in years; fresh oysters on the shell; and some prepared seafood dishes on toast included salmon and caviar.
The hot entree/barbeque left me cold. It offered large river prawns, satay on sticks, and seafood wrapped in banana leaves. Each of these is difficult to attractively display — so no attempt was made — and I find none of the choices to be worth the effort of getting the food off the stick, out of the leaf, or out of the shell. My companions (Thai) did say the food was good.
Brunch concludes with the dessert table of traditional buffet-type pastries. Nothing particularly inspired there — but all of it looked good and the few items I did try were superb. Ice cream is available on request.
Two menu options exist. First is just the traditional serve yourself buffet. The second is called a “demonstration menu” — which I think means that the preparation of various buffet items is demonstrated for you. A nice gesture to those who want to see food prepared the “Thai way.”
Despite the wonderful food, I had two “sad” thoughts as I left. First, my table of three and a table of six were the only guests. The Chedi is either offering a product that Chiang Mai does not want, or it needs to do a lot of marketing and advertising to draw people to this delightful food experience. But this past Sunday, I fear a huge amount of wonderful food fed only the trash bins.
I don’t manage hotels, but it would seem to me to be a great and grand gesture if the management of the hotel allowed staff to come in and “finish off” the buffet at the end of the normal serving hours. I suspect that “perk” might be unique in the industry, but so much more “humanitarian” than just tossing the food into the bin. My “table cost” for the brunch was probably more than some of the employees of the Chedi earn in a month. How wonderful for them to share in some small way the experience I had at their hotel.
Secondly, The Chedi architects missed the “go green concept.” Throughout the hotel—from the lobby to the restaurant to most public spaces, huge air conditioned indoor spaces open directly to outdoor space with no doors or any other attempt to contain the air conditioning. Picture air conditioning your house with all the doors and windows open and multiply the task by many thousands of square meters. What an incredible waste. I must admit I did not verify if some of the internal spaces were air conditioned. Yet, there was a discernable difference in temperature between the inside and outside — which I attributed to some a/c units churning away at full throttle.
My suggestion: lower the price of brunch a bit; heavily advertise the brunch; and close the doors! I hope Chiang Mai will respond, since this is a great, high quality brunch. It is also very casual and laid back — not pretentious like such high quality restaurant experiences can be.