French restaurant with the feel of a neighbourhood bistro
Before dining here the first time, I read an
online review which described this restaurant as “very
stylish,” “totally chilled” and with a “smart colour
scheme.” When I arrived, I thought for a minute that I
was in the wrong place. None of these adjectives seems
to me to be appropriate. The restaurant appears to be
aiming not at smartness, but at an unpretentious,
friendly neighbourhood bistro feeling. It is set in a
narrow garden with a fountain, in a quiet soi close to
Thapae Gate, but so secluded that you would never know
this. There is space for about 30 diners.
The menu is written on a chalk board, so it changes some
from day to day. Both times I’ve eaten here, we were met
and greeted by the chef who offers to explain all the
dishes on offer. He did this in fluent English, but
since he is half French and half Spanish, I am sure he
could manage this in other languages also. There is also
a Thai menu, but I have never tried it.
I sampled three of the starters, the charcuterie (400B),
the terrine de chef (150B) and the salmon carpaccio
(250B). The charcuterie, a good selection of sliced
meats and sausages, was large and best shared by two.
The terrine was a nice, rather solid, coarse country
pate. My favourite starter though was the salmon, with
excellent fish and a very nice herby flavour.
For main courses, we tried the terrine of crab (300B),
couscous with duck sausage (350B), venison stew with a
white wine sauce (450B), and white snapper in estragon
sauce (350B). The crab terrine was two large crab cakes
in a tasty, spicy sauce, served with vegetables. The
dish was appetizing and well worth trying. The only
problem was that the flavour of crab did not come
through clearly – it might have been a tasty meat loaf
rather than a crab terrine. The somewhat peppery duck
sausages were accompanied not only by couscous, but also
by a tasty vegetable stew, almost like a gumbo.
My favourite was the excellent ‘estouffade de chevreuil
au vin blanc.’ This venison stew included really tender,
tasty meat in an excellent sauce and was accompanied by
delicious potatoes au gratin. This dish was an example
of the sauce complementing the meat, but not
overpowering it. The estragon sauce with the white
snapper, on the other hand, was a less successful
combination, with the sauce not allowing the delicate
flavour of the fish to come through.
Afterwards, there was a choice of either a cheese plate
(400B) or a Normandy apple tart (150B). We tried the
tart, which was delicious, but not well described. It
was not at all the classic Normandy tart, but much more
American in style – there was even chocolate sauce in
the pastry. The restaurant should keep offering this,
but change the name, and offer a choice of real
Normandy-style apple tart also. Finally, we were each
given a rum and passion fruit drink, for a nice finish
to the meal.
In spite of being close to Thapae Gate, you probably
would not see this restaurant unless you knew where it
was. It is worth finding though. To get to Côté Jardin
from Thapae Gate, walk south on the inner moat road,
Moon Muang. Pass Cosy Corner and turn right down the
next soi, which is Ratchamanka, Soi 2. Walk a short
distance and the restaurant will be on your right. The
telephone number is 086-273-8675 (French) or
081-088-9418 (Thai). I’d like to hear from you on your
experience of this restaurant. Please contact me at:
Pad Thai (Thai Stir-Fried Noodles)
Pad Thai is one of those Thai standards that you will get all
over the world. Variations come from generations of Thai cooks who add their own
signature to the dish. Basically it is a noodle dish (generally (large) sen
yai), prepared in the wok, with whichever meat or fish/seafood you would like.
Do not omit the roasted peanuts, an important ingredient. Other than that, you
may experiment to produce your own variation.
Boil noodles until just soft (1-3 minutes).
Drain and place noodles in separate bowl. Heat oil in wok on
high heat and add garlic, shallots, oyster sauce, pork and
stir-fry until cooked. Add eggs and cook quickly, stirring
in with the pork.
Add noodles, fish sauce, soy sauce, pepper and sugar,
stirring quickly so that noodles do not stick together. Stir
in bean sprouts, green leaf vegetables and peanuts.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve immediately.
Dried rice noodles
Pork, cut into thin strips 100 gm
Dark soy sauce
Green leaf vegetables,
cut into 2 cm strips ½ cup
Roasted peanuts crushed ½ cup
Coriander, fresh, chopped for garnish