The Riverside Pub and Restaurant: By Brian Baxter
A handsome and successful re-vamp of an old favorite
You might well think that the above heading refers to a
recent encounter with an acquaintance or friend of long
standing who has gone in for a face lift, a couple of nips
and tucks and some body building routines. Not far off in
some respects since the extensive re-vamp of the long
established Riverside has had just that effect. After 20
years plus on their prime Ping River site they had to forgo
a large area of land when the lease expired. Rather than sit
back and manage on a third of the space, they have spent the
past few months in a transformation of the former venue. The
result is something like an extra 100 covers.
To be honest, when the Mail’s snap-shooter suggested that I
might go to the restaurant for my first review after Neil’s
excellent tenure, I nearly said ‘what’s the point? I wrote
about it enthusiastically just a few months ago’.
Fortunately, I did agree on the visit if only to keep him
happy and it saved me having to locate a new place
immediately on return. Also it could hardly be regarded as a
The first impression is, of course, of a new style eatery,
since it is now on both sides of the busy Charoenrat Road.
Importantly though, the extensive menu has remained intact
and the prices seem to be the same. The staff are as
numerous and energetic as always and service amazingly rapid
for such a large restaurant. No wonder on the Friday night
in question that the joint was, as the saying goes, jumpin’.
In that remark lies my only complaint. They employ three
different bands (not playing at the same time, Charles Ives
style) and a pianist on Sunday. Two are on duty most of the
time, one on each side of the road and pretty energetic they
are too. The small bar on the riverside has always been
exceptionally noisy and the young crowd who frequent it seem
oblivious to the assault on their eardrums or the need to
strain their larynxes. In the new area the larger bar also
boasts a brassy group and this is a slightly less
claustrophobic setting but still noisy. Happily there is a
most attractive garden area at the rear, replete with a
soothing waterfall and lush plants, eminently suited to us
This section and several of the other dining rooms which
seat about 20 people are worth booking if you actually want
to talk to your dining companions. The same naturally goes
for the now reduced riverside area which borders on the
river and boasts a romantic view of the passing traffic and
the bridges. Some of the other eateries along this busy road
offer equally good - and now larger - seating areas.
Although it is a part of town which attracts many tourists
for its galleries, art shops, cafes and restaurants it was
noticeably busier with Thai customers than farangs last
week. A sign of the low season, which seems to be the lowest
for many years. Time for Thailand to start welcoming
visitors a little more openly and to mount a full out public
relations campaign to bring back visitors that are heading
to nearby destinations.
As already mentioned, the food has not changed from my last
review or from any of my previous visits. Portions are still
exceptionally plentiful. The vegetarian spring rolls are
among the best in town, the shredded mushrooms with sesame
seeds and basil leaves are superb and the wide range of fish
dishes are good by any standards. Starters are mainly around
80 to 100 baht, mains about twice that and although it is
predominantly Thai, the menu offers a few western dishes.
There is a decent wine list, plenty of bottled beers and
beer on draft, with all the usual extras - both soft and
After 24 years in business it is hardly surprising that the
restaurant is well run and popular, but it is encouraging to
be able to report that the extension has not deprived it of
any of its former quality. They have wisely turned their
loss into an advantage and look set for another two decades.
Not that I’ll be around to witness it!
Next week a new small local restaurant which has very
recently been opened by Krit who formerly had a highly
successful place on the Nimmenhaemen Road. It will be my
turn to tell our cameraman where to point his lens and
having paid a quick visit to check out the new place, which
is across the road from Hillside 4, off Huay Kaew Road I
feel another enthusiastic review coming on. Very different
in style but isn’t that what makes eating out in Chiang Mai
such a pleasure?
The Riverside, 9-11 Charoenrat Road, Tel 053 243 239 or 053
Chicken Fajitas (pronounced ‘fahitas’)
Fajitas equals fun. A tortilla wrap with
onions, capsicums, guacamole, cheese and salsa. The fun comes as every time you
can make it differently, and personally it is the guacamole/cheese with the
chicken that is the best. Another tip - don’t overfill the tortillas.
Mix all marinade ingredients and leave the chicken in it for
Peel the onion and slice with the grain and slice off sections around 1 cm wide.
Take the capsicum, deseed and sliced lengthways into 1 cm wide strips.
Heat a large cast iron pan or griddle to high and add a teaspoon of olive oil.
Quickly fry the chicken strips and then turn down the heat to medium and add the
onion and capsicum, stirring until the onion becomes translucent.
Serve immediately with shredded cheese, salsa, shredded iceberg lettuce, sour
cream, guacamole and warm flour tortillas. (Hint for warming tortillas - put in
microwave over a paper towel for 20 seconds on high heat.)
(sliced thin strips) 500
Garlic, peeled, minced 2 cloves