The Gallery: By Brian Baxter
One of many restaurants on the riverside at Chiang Mai
the River Ping and its views and passing traffic attracts
visitors and residents. Just as inevitably the area boast
innumerable restaurants, bars and shops - especially notable
are the ‘antique’ centers. There is a fairly short stretch
of the Charoenrat Road which boasts quite a selection of the
best of all of these and within walking distance of each
other you will find The Gallery, The Brasserie, Comadora,
Best View and The Riverside. And before you say anything,
yes, I know, they are large, slightly impersonal and attract
hordes of tourists. You may well be sharing the ample space,
though not a table, with a coach party of people from Hong
Kong or Taiwan. But if you go on the late side of 8.30 and
eat at a civilized time you will avoid the crowds.
I have eaten twice at The Gallery in recent weeks and whilst
the above holds true I can only report that both I and the
people I went with (a mixture of Thais and farangs the first
time and only farangs the second) all enjoyed our food,
which was promptly served and reasonably if not cheaply
priced In common with other places The Gallery offers more
than just the main restaurant. You approach it either
through a large shop (hence the name) offering attractive
northern Thai goods and fabrics. Or you can go through the
adjoining bar which features jazz groups (often very good
ones) later in the evening. There is a barbecue area and
this in turn leads into an upper dining area and a second
one which has a large number of tables stretching down to
the river’s edge.
On the most recent visit I must confess that I nearly went
away, daunted by the sheer numbers of people eating there.
But the five of us sat down and by the time our draft beer
Singh had arrived (160 baht a liter) our order had already
been taken and within minutes a steady stream of delicious
food began arriving.
The menu is large, but sensibly shown in both Thai and
English in various main sections. There are “International”
offerings, a vegetarian selection, countless Thai dishes,
the Khantoke dinner (a style of Northern Dining with a range
of dishes priced at 450 baht for two people) and there are
quite a few puddings, mainly based around generous portions
of fruit and ice cream (60-100 baht). The large wine list
begins at 850 a bottle and runs up to 2,500 baht, and there
are cocktails (from 120), local and imported beers, plus
sake and many soft options.
As you might expect the service is efficient rather than
personal but the mainly young staff keep on the move and we
had a most attentive waitress who looked after our meal with
unobtrusive ease. We managed quite a few courses beginning
with a spicy tuna salad, some shrimp cakes, a Tom Yum Goong
and some vegetarian spring rolls. The chicken with cashew
nuts, steamed fish, a curry (or was it two?), stir fried
vegetables and morning glory with garlic were accompanied by
large tureens of rice and a seemingly endless supply of beer
in jugs. Quite how some of the party managed the fancy ice
creams remains a mystery. With service we each faced a bill
of 600 baht and there were no complaints. On the previous
visit the bill had been less and the only complaint came
from the two Thai diners who found a couple of dishes too
bland. So be warned ask for your food spicy or you may find
yourself asking for the prik nam plaa.
As I remarked earlier, The Gallery, and its equally busy
counterparts up and down the riverside, tends to cater for
the many visitors to the city who come for ‘an evening out’
as well as for the food so not, perhaps, the restaurant for
a quite meal a deux. You can find it at 25/29 Charoenrat
Road. Tel: 05324 8801. And they open every day until late.
(Note: So busy was I a couple of weeks ago writing about The
Mail’s ‘policy for dining out’ that I left off the phone
number for the excellent The Green Mill, at the bottom of
Lanna Hospital Soi. They can be contacted on 053 210 999 or
053 212 400).
Spanish onion omelet
Omelets are always popular, and with eggs being so cheap at
present an omelet is a good way to feed a family. This recipe is different from
the usual Thai omelet, and is a pleasant change. The addition of garlic and
coriander deviates from the standard recipe, but does add more flavor.
Heat olive oil in the frying pan or wok, and fry the
finely chopped onion and garlic and then cover for 20 minutes. After this, stir
and continue cooking slowly until it is a puree (about one hour).
Divide the onion and garlic mixture in two and add half to each of two bowls
containing two eggs beaten with the coriander leaf and a generous amount of salt
and a good dash of ground black pepper.
Reheat the frying pan, adding a very small amount of oil if required, and cook
the two omelets individually, turning once to cook both sides.
Onions, very finely chopped 7 cups
Garlic finely chopped
Coriander leaf chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste