Casablanca: By Brian Baxter
My compliments to the Chef!
This elegant new restaurant in Soi 7, off Nimmenhaemenda
Road, does not - I must tell you immediately - offer
Moroccan food, nor other dishes from North Africa. Its menu
concentrates on fine Thai food, sea food and ‘international
cuisine’, including steaks and other meats imported from
Australia. I’m not sure what inspired the name but I rather
doubt it was that sprawling port and think it might well
have been the classic movie set during WWII. Nick’s diner,
the watering hole run by Humphrey Bogart, seems a lot closer
to what is on offer here rather than the hustle and bustle
of that poverty ridden, over- crowded city. Still,
Casablanca might well consider offering a few ‘typical’
dishes as well as its already extensive menu.
None of which I guess really matters, since here we are in a
busy enclave of Chiang Mai; once behind the smart cream and
white façade we are into a tranquil oasis of calm and
surrounded by décor that has that ‘feminine touch’. There
are two rooms, the front one of which has a little coffee
bar and a display of tempting cakes, along with dining
tables. The interior room has more of the whiter than white
chairs and tables, topped by crisp white table cloths and
napkins, shining glasses and cutlery, an array of pretty
objects and some large vases of flowers.
The aim has been to create a charming and romantic
atmosphere, aided by soft background music and a feeling
that Casablanca is somewhere to ‘dine out’, not a place in
which to indulge in a hurried meal. They have set their
sights on customers who might well go to the smarter French
restaurants in town, those who enjoy dining at the up market
hotels or going to such establishments as Mi Casa or The
House. It will be interesting to see how they manage such an
I went there with a Thai friend, and naturally opted for the
Thai food, straying only into Western territory for the
desserts, from which my friend chose bananas flamed in Grand
Marnier and brandy and served with vanilla ice cream, (150
baht), and I settled for mocha-vanilla ice cream. The
international section boasts 44 dishes, including a range of
steaks such as fillet and T-bone at around 800 baht, and
lamb chops, plus grilled sea-food, also at 800 baht. There
are soups, including lobster bisque at 250 baht, and
attractive salads, including a nicoise, (180 baht), plus a
selection of pasta options, (average 250 baht).
We selected three dishes, plus steamed rice and thanks to
the generous portions were pessimistic enough to think that
we would never finish them. In the event, the serving dishes
were taken away empty and the food pronounced among the very
best either of us had eaten in Chiang Mai. All were cooked
to order. From the 39 dishes on offer we chose Hot Thai
herbs with sea-food ginza, green peppers, chili and celery,
(250 baht), asparagus with prawns, (200 baht), and a dry
massaman curry with fish that was most unusual in taste and
With it we tried a small carafe of Thai white wine and then
another of the red, which was served chilled. Each at 250
There were numerous cocktails on offer, beer Singha at 80
baht, wines including Champagne and some fancy sounding
coffees, with pastries alongside the listed sweets. The
service was still at the slightly nervous stage, since the
Casablanca is newly opened, but it was smiling, charming and
attentive .It will be intriguing to see how the whole
venture settles down.
It is by no means inexpensive and to be honest it is not
really the sort of place where one would order up a single
plate of spaghetti and a glass of house red, when less fancy
alternatives abound. But the food we tasted was of exemplary
quality and freshness and the presentation excellent.
Considerable thought and investment has gone into this
restaurant and I look forward to another visit possibly with
fellow diners who will try the ‘farang food’.
You will find Casablanca about 300 meters down on the right
from Soi 7, off Nimmenhaemenda Road. Tel. 053 226 344 or 053
222 244. They accept credit cards. They also advertise
themselves as ‘a bakery’, so you might care to call in for a
coffee and one of those cream cakes to check it out. Or
treat someone special.
It is getting hotter in Thailand, and time to think again
about cooling refreshing soups. Gazpacho is a famous Spanish soup which is
served cold. The use of your blender makes this a very easy soup to make, but do
not over blend. The soup should have a thick consistency. You can also
substitute red and yellow bell peppers for green if you wish.
Using the blender: first chop up the garlic, then add the
cucumber and bell peppers (capsicum), adding tomato juice as needed to liquefy.
Finally add the tomatoes and the rest of the juice. If you want elegance, press
through a sieve. If you’re going for heartiness, just leave it the way it is.
Mix in the olive oil and vinegar. Now refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, pour into bowls and garnish with salad vegetables as you
see fit: minced or notched and sliced cucumber; thin green bell pepper slices;
chopped coriander; and croutons and finally a goodly sprinkle of pepper.
Ingredients Serves 4
(or 8 large fresh tomatoes, peeled)
Cucumber peeled and chopped
Green bell pepper cored and chopped 1
Ground black pepper garnish