EATING OUT & RECIPES BY NOI
Authentic Italian cuisine in an elegant setting
By Brian Baxter
The chef/proprietor of this high class restaurant,
which opened in December, claims with considerable
justification that he offers ‘a corner of Italy’ in Chiang
Mai. He is an enthusiast for good food with a vast
experience of cooking in top restaurants in London, Italy
and France among other countries. Whether this city can
offer a clientele to match his dedication we shall see over
the coming months.
La Tavernetta is based on the third floor of the burgeoning
Kantary Terrace on Nimmenhaemin Road. (Take the lift – it’s
easier than finding your way through the complex of shops
etc.). It offers a cool, smart environment with white walls,
tiled floor and good sized tables with immaculate table
cloths and shining table ware and comfortable chairs. Its
aim is to offer high class dining and in that it succeeds
admirably – unsurprisingly at a cost. This is not your
average Italian trattoria or pizza parlour.
The menu is relatively short with a range of starters,
pastas and main courses plus delicious puddings and imported
coffee. In fact all of the ingredients are imported from
Italy with the obvious exception of vegetables, the beef
(from Canada) and the lamb (from New Zealand). The pasta,
bread and puddings are also made fresh every day and
everything is cooked to order in a glass fronted kitchen.
There are also two set menus and these are selections from
the main menu, offering six courses including the strong
coffee and biscotti and a mini sorbet. My companion and I
opted for the menus – each selecting one. With the food we
had an excellent, full bodied red wine (Italian naturally)
from a very small selection. The wine was 1000 baht, with
the white offered at 900 baht. Water is served liberally in
carafes though you can opt for Italian bottled water at
Our meal was formidable, with each course presented
elegantly and freshly prepared. A highlight was a starter
comprising a chef’s fantasy with marinated tuna with other
dishes to the side and a small roll of olive bread. The
pastas came with fresh salmon and for main courses we
enjoyed superbly cooked octopus and lamb chops respectively.
The desserts were a sacher torte and for me a moist apple
cake. Quality of the food and its execution were faultless.
Choosing from the a la carte menu one could of course have
any combination or a more simple one or two course dinner.
The starters averaged about 250 baht and the pastas around
400 with main courses rather more. The service was very
attentive and friendly but so far a little inexperienced.
The ambiance was as said very comfortable with no music and
plenty of light. The menu is a model of clarity. There is a
pleasant dining space directly outside the restaurant with a
view over the Kantary complex. There are about 20 covers and
they do not accept credit cards.
And here’s the rub. This fine food comes, as mentioned at
the beginning, at a price. One taster menu was 1750 baht and
the other 1800 including tax. So far, from your casual
eatery and not an everyday experience for most of us.
However if you love Italian food, freshly prepared and
elegantly served in pleasant surroundings then this is a
treat. And if you wish to impress visitors with what top end
dining can offer outside of grand hotels then head for
Nimmenhaemin Road….. any evening except Monday when
Tavernetta is closed. You can find them on the main road in
front of the Kantary Hotel and there is parking on the
ground level (turn right into the soi and turn right again
immediately after Bangkok Airways) with the ticket being
validated when you use one of the restaurants. Phone number
for La Tavernetta is 085 527 7803. Open evenings only.
RECIPES BY NOI: Kang Phak Khi Siad
January - February after the harvest season, even though
it’s still in cold season but the rice fields are already
turn brown and dry because the last rain of the year is
normally in November or December. Nothing can grow but
there’s a very high useful vegetable which can grow in such
Phak Khi Siad (old people call it “Phak Khi Kiad or frog’s
poop vegetable” because the shape of the leaves) is the size
of a dish and flat and to me it looks more like spider web.
It has a bitter taste and grows in rice fields when the
other plants can’t. According to it’s bitter taste, it helps
to reduce fever and some people boil it in clean water and
shower with the water to remedy skin diseases such as
ringworm and dermatitis and rash.
Actually it’s (good) weed but nowadays people use a lot of
different fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides so Phak Khi
Siad is in danger but hopefully it’s gene of being a weed is
Nothing is more perfect than Phak Khi Siad curry with dry
fish. All the small fish that we caught during the last
rainy season were preserved in salt (Pla Ra) or Sun dried.
Fish is a very cheap protein source and easy to find
especially in the rainy season.
Kang Phak Khi Siad is as easy as other Northern food. All we
need are just chili paste (dry chilies, garlic and shrimp
paste), Phak Khi Siad, dry fish and clean water. First add
the chili paste to clean water and let it boil. Add dry fish
and Phak Khi Siad at the very last because it cooks quickly.
After add salt or fish sauce.
Only at this period of the year that we will have Phak Khi
Siad, it is very cheap because for this meal I paid nothing.
I went to pick the vegetable by myself and have dry fish
from home. Of course there’s no rice field in the city but
everyone can buy in any local market. 10-20 Baht and you’ll
have at least 2 bowls of the curry.