Chiang Dao Nest I : By Neil Robinson

Remarkable food in beautiful surroundings

Brian 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 earlier!
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: [email protected].


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.

Cooking Method
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.

Ingredients                              serves 4-6
NUncooked pasta                                  200 gm
Cooked small prawns                             500 gm
Onion, chopped                                     1 small
Flour                                                      cup
Pepper                                                  tspn
Worcestershire sauce                              1rspn
Fresh parsley chopped                        4 tbspns
Sliced mushrooms                                100 gm
Parmesan cheese                               4 tbspns
Butter                                                2 tbspns
Minced garlic                                        1 clove
Salt                                                     tspn
Milk                                                      2 cups
Swiss cheese shredded                         60 gm