La Terrasse; Friendly but elegant French brasserie:

Offering quality food and excellent value

By Neil Robinson

Imagine that you are standing by the moat and I asked you to walk along Loi Kroh to find a restaurant offering French cuisine cooked by an owner/chef who cares about the food, with a friendly atmosphere and very reasonable prices. If you know Chiang Mai restaurants at all then you would think this a very easy task—all you have to do is walk 100m to the deservedly popular and recently expanded Chez Marco. But if you really know Chiang Mai, then you would know there is also another such restaurant—just walk another 100m and you will come to the recently opened La Terrasse.

La Terrasse and Chez Marco are by no means identical, as I will try to explain below, but in view of their proximity,comparisons are inevitable. Both feature a chef who cares about quality French food, both provide excellent value and offer a welcoming atmosphere. I have eaten at each several times and I am not going to tell you which I think is better because I like them both so much. The cuisine is a bit different between the two. Both include classic French dishes, but they have their own variations on them. The d้cor of La Terrasse is more elegant and that of Chez Marco more informal. Paradoxically, in spite of this, La Terrasse is, if anything, even friendlier in atmosphere than Chez Marco.

Many of the appetizers at La Terrasse are offered either full size or in a smaller portion as a tapas. Main courses are generously sized, so I usually opt for the tapas. On a recent visit I started with the duck mousse, followed by an excellent coq au vin, with really intense flavours in the sauce. A companion, at my recommendation, had duck with black pepper sauce, a combination I found much to my taste on a previous visit. The French like their meat rarer than is to my taste. Consequently I am careful to specify well done. Jean, the chef, will wince a little at this (in a joking way) but comply, at least as far as getting the duck close to medium well done, and still very tasty. As I hope you can see from the accompanying photographs, the food is also very attractively presented. In addition to vegetables there is a choice of rice, mashed potato, pasta etc. as accompaniments. However, if you take my advice you will instead opt for potatoes fried in duck fat. Maybe this is not the healthiest choice, but never mind, the flavour is to die for! For dessert, I particularly liked the nougat glace. But save room for the complimentary petit fours at the end of the meal.

To give an idea of the prices, they have a three course set menu for around 350B which includes a choice from two main courses. In a recent visit with three companions we ordered ample food off the main menu and the bill came to less than 500B per person (including water but not alcoholic drinks). In view of the quality of the food and the atmosphere of the restaurant, I think these prices represent excellent value.

You may be thinking by now that there must be some criticism to make, and I do have one. At present the menu is only available in French or English, not in Thai. I raised this point with Jean who assured me that they were working on it. Meanwhile, you may want to take this into account if you are planning to dine with Thai companions, depending on how well they read French or English.

To find La Terrasse (and I urge you to do so), go down Loi Kroh away from the moat. About 200m from the moat, you will see a short driveway on your left, leading to the restaurant. The driveway is next to the temple wall of Wat Pan Tong and opposite a small hotel called the Traveller Inn. The telephone number is 083 762 6065. Open 6pm to 10:30pm, six days a week (closed Saturday).


Carrot, coriander and chilli soup

Carrot soup uses a staple vegetable in the western countries, but carrot soup is not that well known. When combined with coriander and chilli, you are producing something akin to ‘fusion’ cuisine. This recipe takes around one hour to prepare and cook, but your guests will like something just that little bit different. It comes highly recommended by a Mr. Bugs Bunny.

Ingredients                  Serves 5
Olive oil                                  1 tbspn
Garlic crushed                         1 tspn
Coriander fresh chopped          1 tbspn
Chilli paste                               1 tspn
Onion, chopped                   1 medium
Carrots large, peeled, sliced             3
Potato large, peeled, chopped          1

Chicken stock                       1200 ml

Cooking Method

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Heat garlic, coriander and chilli paste. Saut้ onion until tender. Stir in carrots and potato and cook for five minutes and then pour in chicken stock.

Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are soft. With a hand blender, blend until smooth (or very quickly in an electric blender) then serve immediately.