Le Crystal - Steak House
: By Brian Baxter
New venture by one of Chiang Mai’s premier restaurants
The most important thing to not about this smart new
brasserie style restaurant is that its name is not given in
full above and anyway it is rather misleading. Although
prime imported and domestic steaks do feature heavily on the
menu they are only a fraction of the dishes on offer in its
extensive (almost too large) menu.
There are ‘signature dishes’, pastas, 18 Thai choices and as
many appetizers from the home country, plenty of fish and
other choices. Plus numerous salads, eight soups and other
starters, and a wide range of desserts. So, the dozen plus
steaks, including one from Japan, are only part of the
range. Non meat eaters will find plenty of choice although
strict vegetarians will not find much to choose from, since
even the pastas do not offer a choice without fish or meat.
Still, a vegan heading for somewhere branded a steak house
is an unlikely proposition.
Many readers will know or know of Le Crystal in its grander
form. This well established French-orientated restaurant
with its spacious verandah and gardens leading to the river
and its lofty dining room offers fine food and wines and
commensurate prices. They offer many special events and
gourmet evenings and at present are having “last Saturday of
the month buffets”, ending September 27. Even so, it could
hardly be counted as a regular dining out venue for the
majority of us, especially if you take advantage of their
collect and return taxi service which allows one to indulge
in some their excellent wines and digestives.
Acknowledging that, the owner has wisely decided to offer an
alternative, with good food and a well stocked bar but in
decidedly less formal surroundings. The good news is that
the staff and service are as friendly and efficient as in
the ‘original’. So there you have it. A bright and breezy
‘steak house’ situated in the heart of JJ’s Market, offering
some sixty covers at large and comfortable tables. There is
an adjoining coffee shop and bakery and they are already
building an extension on an upper floor. There is a band
which proved a little intrusive for us oldies but they play
well and, to be honest, this new venture is aimed at the
‘younger crowd’, the Thais and farangs who go, for example,
to Mo’C Mo’L. In which case noise goes with the territory.
As mentioned the menu is extensive. I went last week with
three friends (just a few days after its official opening)
and we barely managed a very modest cross section of the
choices between the four of us. Still it was enough to
convince us that the food was well presented, in good sizes
portions and that the surrounding were immaculately clean,
well lit and that service was prompt. Our starters included
three salads, two with oil and balsamic vinegar dressings
(offered on the side) and the third a Caesar salad (a little
too heavy on the anchovies, said my friend). My indulgence
was deep fried camembert. This was the highlight of my meal,
with the cheese ripe and the crispy coating exceptionally
light and ‘oil free’. A rather large portion of spaghetti
vongole which followed defeated me half way through.
Two of the other diners went for the pork knuckle with a
modest helping of sauerkraut and mashed potato. The meat
seemed to fall off the bone and was exceptionally plentiful.
Our Caesar salad fan went for a steak (dubbed roast beef)
and it seemed to be tender and not over cooked. He’s a
polite type of fellow so no further comment was forthcoming.
But I noticed the plate was empty.
Two of us went for a single scoop of ice cream but the
choice was oddly limited. It was vanilla or rum raisin. Or
rum raisin or vanilla. Or I suppose vanilla and rum raisin.
Any way you cut it they’ll need to do better for us ice
cream addicts. There are plenty of alternatives, especially
courtesy of the adjoining coffee shop and some more
extravagant choices plus a huge variety of specialist teas
and coffees. With the meal we could not resist the rare
opportunity in Chiang Mai of draft Stella Artois, a good
beer from Belgium, producer of probably the best beers in
the world. There were two other choices on draft and a
selection of drinks, including wines available from Le
Crystal, which would fill the rest of this page. We ended up
having spent 600 baht a head, including plenty of bottled
water and some rolls (white only) and butter, service and
the food and drink.
I look forward to a return visit and can foresee that this
bright and glossy eatery will become a popular place with
both farangs and Thais. The coffee shop and restaurant both
open at 11 in the morning and the latter stays open until 1
am. The address is 44 Atsadathorn Road and the telephone
Sri Lankan Tomato Chutney
Chutneys are condiments that can add that
little sparkle to any dish. This is a Sri Lankan Tomato chutney which is easy to
make; however, do not make large quantities as these chutneys do not store well.
To peel tomatoes easily, dip tomatoes in boiling water for one minute. Remove
tomatoes and set aside to cool enough so that you can handle them. Gently pierce
the skin of the tomatoes with the tip of a sharp knife. Loosen the skin with the
knife and peel away.
Take the skinned tomatoes, halve them and remove the seeds
and the juice and then chop very finely. Rinse and seed the chilli and then chop
it finely. Be careful not to rub your eyes while doing this.
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well and then leave stand for 15
Now puree by putting it in the blender or food processor for a short time.
Large ripe skinned tomatoes 4
Spring onions (chopped)
Ginger root (finely grated) 1 tspn
Ground black pepper pinch
Lemon (lime) juice
Coriander leaf (finely chopped) 1 tspn