Chez Marco: By Brian Baxter
Proving that size and location aren’t everything
PLEASE don’t stop reading when I tell you from the start
that this modestly sized ‘bistro’ is based on Loi Kroh Road,
a location which might put you off from trying the delicious
French and Mediterranean food which is the specialty of the
young chef-proprietor Marco. That street contains at least
two of the worst restaurants in Chiang Mai, among other
tourist traps and one would normally head through it in a
rapid tuk-tuk or other wheeled transport. Instead, stop the
vehicle a couple of hundred meters on the left, brave the
bedlam and go into Chez Marco.
There are just a dozen seats in the front section and a
further dozen or so inside this simple oasis. The style is
simple, with pleasant wall decorations and a variety of
notices offering the style of food which can be found in
cafes from the chef’s origins in the South of France
(Antibes to be precise). Tapenades, charcuteries, bruschetta
and so on. Ideal for a modest meal, with a beer or coffee.
Importantly, there is a more ambitious menu which qualifies
it for the ‘dining out’ column and this is enhanced by the
friendly service, casual ambience and reasonable prices. The
regular menu is supplemented by daily specials and on my
recent visit (it has only been open three months) this was
what tempted me.
The suggestion was for a two course meal, consisting of
carpaccio of tuna followed by a mousse au chocolat (225
My companion and I decided on an adaptation of this idea,
opting for the tuna as a generous starter.
This proved to be as good a version as any I have tasted
(except my own, which also features vodka and crushed
coriander seeds) and the sublimely fresh fish was cut into
see-through slices, with a marinade of olive oil, lemon,
seasoning and finely chopped shallots. It came with a
garnish of crisp lettuce and freshly cooked pommes frites. I
chose a spaghetti arrabbiata (95baht) to follow and this
proved to be genuinely spicy, steaming hot and too plentiful
to finish. It was worthy of any of the Italian restaurants I
My companion enjoyed the tuna and then returned to his
origins with two of the handful of Thai dishes on offer: Tom
Yam Goong (60 baht) and fried rice with chicken (55 baht),
which he said were ‘aroy!’ Marco admitted that they were
cooked by a Thai. A wise man, who knows his limitations.
His specialties are regional (French) food and the menu
includes a faux filet and two other steaks, with a choice of
classic sauces, an Assiette Provencale (225 baht for a large
selection of dishes), various pastas, including a lasagna,
salads and stuffed vegetables. The desserts include the
mousse which we shared and Cinnamon Apple Pie (65 baht), or
a cheese platter (130 baht).
Wine is available by the glass or bottle and apart from soft
drinks and local beers he offers a couple of imported
varieties, including Leffe from Belgium. As a modest bistro
style eaterie the wines by the bottle are limited, but
include a couple from France, Chile and other countries.
The food belies the surroundings and I would suggest that if
the meal I had were transferred to a glossier restaurant and
served at a less functional table most of us would be
complimenting the cook and ourselves at finding such a good
meal - at three or four times the price Indeed it would be a
pleasant but unexpected find if one was touring southern
France or around the San Remo area. Here in Chiang Mai it is
doubly welcome. So be brave, shrug off the notion of the
nearby bars and head down there before some smart
entrepreneur decides that the premises and the prices need
Chez Marco. Open daily, from 2 p.m. until after midnight.
15/7 Loi Kroh Road. Tel: 053 207 032.
Chicken, cheese and mushrooms
This is another easy recipe. Mozzarella cheese is plentiful in the
supermarkets. Choose whichever mushrooms you prefer.
Flatten chicken breast halves until thin. Dredge
chicken breasts through the flour. Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat
and cook chicken for 4 minutes on each side, until tender. Remove chicken to a
shallow baking dish and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Add 1 tablespoon butter to skillet and sautÚ mushrooms until tender. Arrange
mushroom slices on top of each piece of chicken and cover with a slice of cheese
and sprinkle cracked pepper over them. Place chicken breasts under a hot griller
until cheese is melted and serve immediately.
Ingredients Serves 4
Boneless chicken breast halves 4
Mozzarella cheese 4
Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste