Chiang Dao Nest I
: By Neil Robinson
Remarkable food in beautiful surroundings
Baxter, the Mail’s regular restaurant reviewer, is
back in England for a few months, leaving me as his
temporary substitute. I hope to cover some of my favourite
places, as well as some that are new to me - and maybe to
you. Favourites will range from out of town (but fairly
easily accessible) restaurants, such as the subject of
today’s review, to the search for the best Khao Soi in
Chiang Mai. Next month, I will be asking for readers’ help
in that quest for great Khao Soi, so please prepare to let
me know your favourites.
My first two meals at Chiang Dao Nest 1 were lunches. I was
charmed by the surroundings and friendly staff, but a little
disappointed by the food. Not that the food was poor, it was
just that I had heard so much about the gourmet European
restaurant that the meals seemed a bit dull by comparison.
However, the site, in a charming valley shaded by tall trees
and with a mountain rising up so sharply that it looks
almost within touching distance, lured me back for an
overnight stay. Then I discovered the difference that Khun
Wicha makes, since she is the chef in the evening. Then the
food really does become gourmet.
The Nest is owned by Wicha and Stuart, a Thai-English
couple. It is only a bit more than an hours drive from
Chiang Mai, and the combination of beautiful surroundings,
cosy (in the sense of nurturing and nest-like, rather than
estate agents’ jargon for cramped) cabins and excellent food
seems to have paid off with guests. I went there recently,
on a weekend and without having made a reservation, but with
the confident expectation that there would be room to stay,
because it was low season. I was wrong - both Nest 1 and the
companion Nest 2 were fully booked up.
At a recent dinner, one of the first things that struck us
was the fine presentation of the food. I hope you can see
this from the photographs (taken by me, not by our regular
photographer, so not really up to normal standard.) And the
flavours live up to the appearance. We started with salmon
fritter, with home made chili and tamarind jam (105 baht).
The salmon was excellent - crisp on the outside and moist
inside and the jam was a delicious accompaniment.
I followed with chicken fillet wrapped in bacon, with onions
cooked in red wine, potatoes and a salad (295 baht). I was
struck with how well the sweet, flavourful, onion/red wine
“sauce” tied everything together. My companion enjoyed local
medallion of pork with Danish blue cheese sauce, crispy
Parma ham and new potatoes (295 baht). His only quibble was
that the sauce, although it went well with the
accompaniments, was less successful with the pork.
We sampled three desserts: home made strawberry sorbet with
pistachio nut cream, fresh vanilla pod creme brulee, and
devil’s food chocolate cake with strawberry coulis and
vanilla ice cream. Each was 85 baht I could not really
detect much pistachio flavour in the cream with the sorbet.
However, this was probably because the excellent strawberry
flavour of the sorbet was so intense. The creme brulee had a
perfect crispy crust (essential in a good creme brulee to my
way of thinking, but I’m often disappointed when I order it
elsewhere) and good clear vanilla flavour. The chocolate
cake was delicious, moist and crusty like a brownie and with
ice cream that tasted home made.
I cannot end this review without mentioning the serving
staff - both friendly and very efficient. I was particularly
struck when I was with a party of four and our waitress
remembered most of our names from a visit two months
The easiest way to contact the Chiang Dao Nest is via their
web site, which also contains contact phone numbers etc. The
web site is: www.chiangdao.com.
I’d like to hear from you on your experience of this
restaurant. Please contact me at:
Creamy prawn pasta
Pasta is always a good dish to prepare when entertaining. A
central large bowl with the special pasta spoon can be used as a main course, or
as an entree. You can substitute the prawns with crab or even a white meat fish.
Do not overcook the prawns as it makes them rubbery.
Wash pasta, drain and then cook to al dente. Drain again,
rinse in hot water and keep warm. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat,
add onion and garlic; cook until tender. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook and
stir until smooth and bubbly. Gradually add milk and Worcestershire sauce. Cook
until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Add parsley, Swiss cheese
and mushrooms; cook and stir until cheese melts. Stir in prawns; cook until
thoroughly heated. Spoon over cooked pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Cooked small prawns
Fresh parsley chopped
Swiss cheese shredded