Very recently I had reason to visit three
different ‘up-market’ eating places within a few days:The
first was The House (International), the second Gianni da
Burchio (Italian) and the last The Gallery (Thai with more
than a nod to the west). This rather person article reports
on a brief culinary odyssey and the outcome.
The first dinner was at the invitation of
a friend who was about to set off on an enviable trip to
visit her children in various attractive parts of the world.
The House was selected because it is civilised, calm (the
background music is provided by a talented classical
guitarist) and the farang- fusion menu is short and to the
point and supplemented by tapas and Thai options.
In fact, we shared a couple of tapas as
starters and just to complete the picture I had taken along
a sturdy Argentinean red wine and paid the corkage (300 baht)
and 200 baht for a glass of very palatable Sauvignon Blanc
as an aperitif. The point of that is to emphasise that the
three course meal (with service, mineral water and breads
and dips) was costed minus alcohol. It came to exactly 1500
baht and given the quantity and quality of the food, the
charming and attentive service and the elegant ambiance
represented good value in such a super setting.
Our meal comprised the tapas – fish cakes
and salmon – the latter in small delicious chunks in soy
sauce, rather rich and both very filling – one would have
The mains were sea bass with mashed
potatoes and vegetables and grilled snapper with baked root
vegetables and potatoes. We managed a single scoop each of
superior ice cream. The quality of the ingredients was first
class, with the fish perfectly cooked and the root
vegetables, including beetroot a highlight of the meal. The
service was faultless and the room is decorated with such
style and panache that it has to be the nicest in town. The
music adds the perfect final touch.
The House is at 199 Moonmuang Road. Tel:
053 419 001 and is adjoining Ginger Caf้ and design shops.
The second dinner was for three people,
including a guest, a Swiss banker, whose affairs are none of
my business but whose profession is – one might say – the
talk of the town. He asked for Italian food and we went to
what has become, during its year of business, my favourite
farang restaurant in the city – Gianni da Burchio.
Our guest generously insisted on choosing
and paying for the wine and with the guidance of Gianni
returned with a superb and rather rare red wine, from the
region about 15 kms from the chef’s home town. The bill for
a very substantial meal, with several bottles of water, a
selection of breads and service came to exactly the same per
head as the previous restaurant. Once again this did not
include alcohol and in fact that luscious red cost rather
more than the food combined.
Our meal comprised three starters: rocket
salad, cherry tomatoes with aged balsamic vinegar and cheese
shavings, imported beef carpaccio with salad, and a vast
Caprese with buffalo mozzarella. Then ravioli with half
portion each of white and black truffles, a pasta with a
rich tomato sauce and Italian sausages and a final pasta
with mushrooms. Our wine – providing guest moved on to
saltimbocca with saut้ed potatoes, while we rested. He ended
with a tiramisu and we opted for the vanilla and coffee ice
creams: small scoops but for me the best around. Our patron
brought us a wonderfully light omelet with truffles mid way
through the meal.
As remarked, the food was the same price
but the style is very different. The service is fine, but
altogether more ‘homely’. The room is more conventional and
the music piped. But the food is absolutely first rate and
it is, of course, possible to eat less indulgently and much
less expensively, which is not really an option at the more
stylish venue. At Gianni’s the house wine is just 350 a
litre and perfectly drinkable and you can even have a good
pizza. It’s a matter of mood and preference and occasion.
Gianni da Burchio is at Somptech Gold Place, off the moat.
Tel: 053 234 003.
And so to my last ‘fancy’ dining
experience; here there were four of us and at The Gallery,
including a perfectly adequate bottle of Merlot (Italian),
lots of water and garlic and other breads and service came
in at very slightly less than the previous two (but with
booze) and was parted with rather more reluctantly. The food
was not the problem: portions were generous and one farang
friend said that his main soup and main course was one of
the best meals he had eaten in Chiang Mai. The problem was
in the service and lack lustre atmosphere as though the
restaurant – once garlanded with awards – has now lost its
way and is trading on a past reputation.
Our meal comprised for my Thai friend and
me, roasted bell peppers with olive oil followed by grilled
fish with spicy sauce and stir fried morning glory and rice.
Our companions each went for a ‘set’ dinner of asparagus
soup and then grilled salmon and mashed potatoes. One
pudding of chocolate ‘cake’ and ice cream was truly
The service was rather chaotic and one
waitress, though charming and willing, had obviously no
training. A fact noted by the manager who kept a wary
distance. Our morning glory came with the peppers and so
long was the fish in arriving that it had to be returned and
reheated. The mood of the place – compared with say the
lively nearby Riverside Restaurant – is simply rather dull
and the whole experience perfunctory. Nothing that could
possibly justify 200 baht for morning glory with garlic was
apparent during the evening. It was a classic case of
potential not being realised. The Gallery is at Charoenrat
Road, facing the river. Tel: 053 248 601.
Next week I’ll be reviewing an out of
town dining (and resort) experience.