The Elizabethan Room : By Brian Baxter

Traditional ‘Englishe Foode’ comes to Chiang Mai

And now, as the saying goes, for something completely different. Well, certainly in northern Thailand. I know there are outlets in this city for English food, even fish and chips and pub grub, although I must confess I have not been to any of them. But the notion of restaurant fare based on recipes which had their origins in the time of Elizabeth I seemed a little more intriguing. If truth be told the food might - in most cases - be called simply traditional British without the added history. Still it has given the owners a chance to decorate the walls with ‘photographs’ from the first Elizabethan period along with other artifacts, befitting 16th century Englishe fayre.
The food can best be described as hearty and portions are not for the faint hearted or those with small appetites. It’s unlikely that many customers (unless a Henry VIII look-alike strolls in) will go away hungry. In fact my second salmon fillet was nicely wrapped and put into a plastic container to take home. Other main course besides the one I chose included Beef and Stout Pye (250 baht), Abbots Private Fish Pye and Roasts of the Day (200 baht). All dishes are served with lashings of vegetables and mashed potatoes.
I think by now you might have got the message but in case not, let me mention the fact that wine is available by the glass (130 baht) or bottle or you can bring your own with a 100 baht corkage charge. But their preference is for you to drink Olde Englishe Cider or cold Guinness. They go with the territory.
The restaurant comprises a single dining room with just 40 covers. The tables are laid with spotless white tablecloths, gleaming glasses and cutlery. There’s subdued background music and the place is unfussy and the host welcoming. No concessions are made to other food; there are no Thai dishes or offers of pastas to bulk up the menu. The cook knows her area of expertise - home prepared, home cooked English food, with the accent on quality ingredients served piping hot in large portions. To her credit, I doubt whether she has even heard the expression ‘boil in the bag’.
By the time this review appears the Christmas and New Year menu will have been discarded so no chance for you to taste - as I did - the excellent Christmas pudding. But the menu which the Mail’s photographer and I sampled will be in use and from it our cameraman chose the meat Pye, which was brought to the table steaming and covered with freshly cooked pastry and an additional jug of sauce. He had preceded it with a home made soup (60 baht) served in a very large hollowed out bread roll. As so often, beaten at the post he opted for a sorbet as his finale.
I should perhaps mention that before your order arrives, slightly sweet crisply coated bread is served accompanied by a delicious sauce based around chestnuts. The French notion of an amused bouche, a little taster to tickle the taste buds, would be laughed out of court here.
Other starters include liver pate and a ridiculously moreish Welsh rarebit (55 baht), a dish fit to be set before any queen, Elizabethan or otherwise. Puddings, apart from the Christmas variety, are offered in degrees of ‘naughtiness’ along with the option of cheese and crackers (140 baht). Our meal, including a glass of wine and a beer, with tip, came to 400 baht each. It would be easy to eat heartily for less than that.
The Elizabethan Room serves breakfast, lunch and Olde Englishe cream teas (180 baht) as well as dinner. They are based at 252/1 Charoenwat Road, Chiang Mai, a few yards from the River Ping Condo. Tel: 053 306 443. To get there, cross Nakhon Ping Bridge coming from the direction of the American Consulate and take the first left at the traffic immediately after crossing the narrow bridge. They are located on the right.


French Onion Soup

This is probably the simplest way to make French Onion Soup in the world. Being a French national symbol, countless cooks have given their renderings of this classic soup, from Escoffier onwards till today. This particular recipe came from Sue Bett in her long out of date recipe book “Great Ideas Galley Guide”, and I have also modified it slightly. This makes for a very hearty dish. French Onion Soup should be served very hot.

Cooking Method
Fry the onions in the butter until soft and transparent in a saucepan. Add the stock and grated rind and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove rind with a fine strainer and add sherry.
Now place a slice of toast in the bottom of the serving bowls and pour the soup into each bowl. The toast will float to the top, and sprinkle it with the grated cheese and then briefly microwave to melt the cheese, or place under the salamander. Voila!

Ingredients Serves        4
Onions, large, sliced              6
Butter                        4 tbspns
Lemon or lime rind, grated 1 lemon/lime
Beef stock cubes                 (3)
in 2 liters water Sherry  4 tbspns
Cheddar cheese, grated 8 tbspns
Whole wheat toast       4 slices