Fish & Chips at Kelly’s Bistro

By Shana Kongmun

I don’t usually head too far out of town but a trip to the Chiang Mai Mail offices and the whispers of a little place out at Meechoke Plaza serving fish & chips compelled me to drop in at Kelly’s Bistro at Meechoke Plaza. Don’t let the exterior fool you into thinking that you will get strip mall quality food, the food was excellent, generous and tasty.

The fish was tender and flaky and the batter crispy to perfection. Fish and chips are hard to do, I think, as many places serve either a soggy version or an oily one. Breaded fish is often better but is it really fish and chips if it’s breaded and not battered? A question I must pose to my British friends I suppose!

The amiable proprietor of the establishment, Rob Kelly in the name, Kelly’s is a native Scot, a classic car owner and a truly friendly host. The little restaurant is cheerily decorated and was filled to the brim for lunch. Breakfasts are served all day for those who need a bacon and baked beans fix even in the afternoon.

Unprepossessing and certainly not fancy dining, it’s a great little place to drop in for your British food fix with those very tasty fish and chips at only 140 baht for a generous sized plate.

Out at Meechoke Market, park in the Rimping parking lot and search for the smiling face of Rob Kelly.

La Fourchette

Quality French Cuisine – at very reasonable prices!

By Brian Baxter 

Chiang Mai, as is soon discovered, is a village pretending to be a city: word travels quicker than an east wind, rumours abound and half-baked opinions and prejudices gain semi- credence within hours. This could be the place where “Chinese whispers’ originated.

Happily, amidst all the chat from people with not enough to occupy their time and minds, there is often good advice to be found and nuggets of truth to be sifted out. That proved to be the case in the constant trickle of reports I heard about the ‘wonderful’, amazing value’, ‘charming’, ‘authentic French’ restaurant which opened a couple of months ago in the heart of the Old City, directly across the street from the Wat Chedi Luang.

People enjoy bearing good news (hence this one-off return to the food column) not least because they recall what happens to messengers of bad tidings.

The buzz got going partly because of the paucity of decent French eating places in Chiang Mai, especially at modest prices. Italian certainly, Japanese increasingly, Thai obviously but French rarely. A second reason was the presence of the avuncular original chef from Le Coq d’Or, all of 32 years ago in the role of ‘conseil generale’. His energetic and handsome son is the chef here, schooled by long experience in classic tradition. The ‘front of house’ role is filled by a vivacious and clever manageress. Between the trio they could charm the birds from the trees but luckily they more productively offer us a welcome dining out experience in a city full of too many second rate – especially farang- restaurants.

It is easy have a satisfying and generous three course meal plus coffee whilst staying below the 500 baht a head range. Remarkable value (even with an over strong baht): long may it last.

On a recent visit, Neil (who kindly took the photographs) and I enjoyed the following: a full bodied vegetable soup (they also offer a pureed version), properly poached eggs Florentine, followed by duck in a brandy sauce and a super fresh trout from the King’s project and desserts of soufflé Grand Marnier and a blackcurrant ice-cream cake with coulis on the side. The main dishes were well garnished with al dente cooked vegetables and a choice of potatoes. Water is served ad lib at no charge.

Now it must be added that we shared a bottle of eminently quaffable French Merlot (720 baht) and followed the meal with a Cointreau and a Cognac, which between them doubled the final bill. On another visit three of us took our own wine (no corkage at present) and even with a tip and coffee each parted with 500 baht for a spectacularly good meal of three courses, including duck with grapes, a spring chicken and giant prawns in a ginger infused sauce (superb). They expect to have Italasia on board to supply a wider range of wines than at present in the next couple of weeks.

The menu is comprehensive rather than extensive. There are some eight or so soups (around 90 baht), including a shrimp bisque and two onion soups , one with garlic and one with Gruyere and a whole range of salads, plus other interesting starters such as Quiche Lorraine and the cheese tart. The main courses offer little for vegetarians but there are many fish dishes and an even greater selection of meat, including steaks and pork, along with duck and chicken. The puddings are a treat all on their own.

I was won over to La Fourchette on a first visit, when a bowl of crispy radishes was offered, along with sea salt, fresh butter and crusty bread, whilst we checked out the menu. Who could ask for more? The restaurant is reasonable spacious and decorated with vibrant paintings. There is a well stocked bar to the rear and seating for around 30 people, including a smoking area on the front terrace. The tables are a trifle on the small side and when they are busy (a couple of party groups, one rather noisy, during one visit) the service can get a little distrait, but never less than attentive. The menu is admirable in its clarity but lacks a Thai translation: a pity.

La Fourchette opens only in the evenings and because of it proximity to ‘walking street’ and the difficulty of parking, they close on Sundays. Hopefully they will build on their early success, rather than try to extend and lower standards. If so this should become one of the very best eating places in the whole City. You will find them directly across from Chedi Luang and about a hundred metres on the left from the end of Walking Street or five hundred metres along from the Three King’s Monument, heading away from the moat. The phone number (essential for bookings) is 089 758 5604 and English, Thai and French are spoken. Bon appétit! (Photos by Neil Robinson).

Pork Omelet

A universal favorite, this recipe is derived from Thailand, so is slightly spicy. If your dinner guests are not partial to spiciness, reduce the amount of garlic.

Ingredients                         Serves1
Vegetable oil                            1 ½ tbspns
Garlic minced                           1 clove
Lean pork, minced                      60 gm
Light soy sauce                         3 tspns
Green and red capsicum 6 slices chopped
Eggs                                            2
Spring onion chopped                        1
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
Coriander springs fresh as garnish
Tomato and cucumber slices

Cooking Method

Heat the oil in a small pan and fry garlic for one minute. Add minced pork and sauté over moderate heat, season with soy sauce and stir in the chopped capsicum. Remove from heat.
In another pan, oil lightly then pour in beaten eggs. Cook on moderate heat until eggs begin to set, then add the pork, capsicum and chopped spring onion on the top, season to taste, then roll up and place in the center of a prepared warm plate and surround with tomato and cucumber.