The Chedi:  By Harvey John

Style, comfort and top class ingredients – at a price

Quite recently, I wrote about a new restaurant where a friend at table had opted for lamb cutlets (later noting them as ‘chewy’) and added that I would not have selected them at anywhere other than a top class – and inevitably expensive – eating place, where they were likely to be imported. Even then they were unlikely to be from grass-fed Welsh lambs from Prince Charles’ estates, which offer the best in the world.
By chance a week or so later, I was at the Chedi for dinner and, on the set menu, one of the choices was char grilled Lamb Cutlets, served with globe artichokes and confute tomatoes with a lemon feta dressing. Pretty fancy, eh? About half of the dozen guests at the table chose the lamb and by the look of their empty plates they probably considered that the woolly creature had not made its journey from a New Zealand (?) slaughterhouse to the Chedi in vain.
The point being made (rather laboriously) is that the quality of the ingredients in such simply – and elegantly – presented food is paramount. Cheaper cuts or inferior quality meat will need much slower and more carefully prepared presentation than slinging a few tender chops on to a grill and letting them darken on the outside whilst remaining pink and tender in the middle. Those at the cheaper restaurants simply could not compete.
All of the ingredients in the meal we had were of comparable quality. The menu started with Ahi Tuna, which was seared and offered with pomelo, crispy seaweed and a ginger miso dressing. The fish and the presentation were faultless. Possibly over-rare for some, it lacked only a little ‘zing’ in the dressing. D2 offers tuna with a Nori wrap and wasabi in the mayonnaise accompaniment. Still, the Chedi’s was up to their standard and that of The House, so one could not ask for more.
As a main course, I opted for a Snowfish Fillet, which came with a fennel and avocado ‘salad’ and a spring roll. It was a thick cut of this superior fish, very white and firm and cooked correctly but, sadly, not quite hot enough on the plate, probably thanks to the large number of diners.
To follow, a super concoction that was labeled meringue (but was certainly not as most of us know it), a poached chocolate and star anise mousse with a tangy citrus custard and a delicate chocolate wafer. Delicious. There was tea or coffee for those who like hot drinks after a meal and petit fours for those with room for more. Thanks to a discount card held by one of our number (why is it that only the rich can afford discount cards and pay less?), the meal sailed in at 620 baht including tax. Wines were available from the ever-reliable Darling Wine Bar, which made the event even better value.
I’d eaten at the Chedi before, enjoying particularly their Indian menu and one very spectacular buffet. The food quality is matched by that effortless, gliding service which blends attention with the impersonal. Not, perhaps, to everyone’s taste but it suits the stylish and rather gloomy ambience of this 5 star hotel. They specialize in high price special events, especially holidays and festivals such as Loy Krathong, and it seems that, even during the economic turndown as we are bidden to call it (rather than a depression), there are plenty of people willing and able to pay for immaculate service, superior presentation and a discreet location. The bar area where we had drinks before dinner was once the home of the British Consulate – sold off by Mrs Thatcher many years ago as she sold off much of Britain’s future. Still, it’s nice to see such an elegant building put to some use. You will find The Chedi at 123 Charaprathet Road, T. Changklan, A. Muang, Chiang Mai.