If I’m on a day tour and I see the phrase ‘lunch included’, my expectations of decent meal aren’t usually very high.
However, on a city tour of Chiang Rai, it specified the restaurant – “Chivit Thamma Da”:http://www.chivitthammada.com/. Judging from its website, it sounded promising: “We serve natural, fresh and home-made Food, Bakery, Coffees and Drinks in a slow environment close to nature, with plenty of flowing water, flowers, birds and fresh air”.
On route we were told that this was a popular restaurant run by a former air hostess and her English husband, which probably accounted for the vintage cream mini cooper parked outside.
On entering the white wooden building, there were seats inside and a counter area, but we were led, through a patio and tables set up in the grounds, to a reserved table right by the riverside. It was pleasantly and naturally shaded and was probably the best table on the terrace. Preening, we settled in and ordered a pint of Singha beer, which arrived resplendent in a silver tankard and a ginger and wild honey detox drink served in a large glass mug containing lots of chopped fresh ginger with a small jug of sugar syrup. A large carafe of water with a slice of orange, flower petal and mint arrived unrequested.
The extensive “menu”:http://www.chivitthammada.com/page/cafe/ChivitThammaDa_FoodMenu_170729_web.pdf had both western and Thai dishes, but our guide recommended pineapple with fried brown rice and tempura prawns. We also chose a northern Thai dish of slow braised pork again with fried brown rice.
We were told that as it was busy, we might have to wait around 30 minutes but as we had a lovely table, we were happy to relax and watch the long-tailed boats plying the river. A plate with pork, rice and salad arrived with something shredded which we assumed was the pineapple. We thought they’d heard us saying we’d share and had put both dishes onto one plate. We were getting tucked in, when a whole pineapple stuffed with rice, chopped pineapple, raisins, tomatoes and other bits and pieces arrived with more salad, fish floss and peanuts on the side. We then realised it was fresh shredded ginger with the pork.
Both dishes were less than 250 Baht (£6.25) and we did as much justice as we could to them.
On the way out, we were told that originally the café had accommodation and a spa, but as the café took off, they devoted the space to a restaurant.