My new husband and I spent some time in Thailand recently on our honeymoon. Following a frantic 3 night stay in Bangkok, we moved on to Chiang Mai, where we had 4 nights booked. We were staying in the Chedi Hotel and asked a guide for restaurant recommendations for our first night. It was recommended that we walk to an area about 10 minutes from the hotel where there is a row of restaurants along the river. We did this and had the choice of about 3 or 4 nice looking places. We chose The Riverside as we thought the menu looked the nicest.
The restaurant was incredibly busy (we took this as a good sign), but unfortunately this meant that we were unable to sit anywhere near a fan! The place itself is fairly small and has a bar area at the front, with the restaurant tables around the back. There are also tables outside and all the way down to the river - I would imagine that these tables all get booked up or taken fairly early on in the evening. Our table was out the back, overlooking the riverbank, but it was all open air, so there was no air conditioning. So, we were shown to our table by a friendly waitress and handed the menus. There is a really good choice of food - both Thai and Western, so it took us a while to have a look through all of the options and make a decision.
Our drinks order was taked quickly - I had a pineapple shake and my husband ordered a diet coke. These didn't come out for a while, but when they did, we were ready to order our food.
We both ordered a thai soup as a starter (I had Tom Ka Gai - chicken & lemongrass in a coconut milk soup and hubby had noodle soup with minced pork) and were amazed at how big they were. We Brits are used to having a bowl of soup as a starter, and we were a bit taken aback at the size of the portions here - especially considering the price! We both tried each others' soups and I can honestly say that they were both utterly delicious. We almost finished both bowls, but remembered that we had better leave some room for the main course!
Our mains came out shortly after our starters were cleared and we really struggled as there was so much food (or we had just eaten too much delicious soup!) Mr S had a green chicken curry, and I tried the charcoal grilled Chiang Mai sausage, as I really liked the idea of trying something local. We were at least sensible with the rice, opting to share a portion of sticky rice. The green curry was divine, and the sticky rice was really lovely, but I wasn't sure about my choice. The sausages tasted a little overcooked and the flavour was a bit odd - I'm not sure how to describe it other than by saying that it wasn't what I was expecting (but then I'm used to good old British pork bangers!).
We ate as much as we could, and ordered another round of drinks to cool ourselves down before admitting defeat. In hindsight, we should just have ordered the soups as main meals, rather than trying to force down an extra course. But we wanted to try as much of the wonderful Thai food as we could, whilst in the country.
We asked for the bill and were just AMAZED at how cheap the whole thing was. So, we had consumed 4 drinks, 2 soups, 2 main courses and a rice - this all totalled no more than £14! It's such incredibly good value to eat at this place, that you may as well try different things as you have nothing to lose!
There was live music in the bar whilst we were there, which actually was brilliant. It was a singer with a guitar and he performed some classics - including the song that I had recently walked down the aisle too! The whole place had a really lovely atmosphere and, had we not been so hot, we would most certainly have stayed for longer!
I did use the toilet facilities whilst here and can say that they aren't great. There were 2 cubicles and they weren't overly clean, although they weren't the worst that I've seen!
Upon returning home and looking on the website for the restaurant, this is how it describes itself 'No visit to Northern Thailand is complete without experiencing the Riverside. Chiang Mai's legendary pub and restaurant. Subtle combinations of candle light, excellent cuisine, both Thai and western, exotic cooktails and a wide variety of draft beers make this a unique place to spend your evenings.
The Riverside sits on a quiet pretty stretch of the Ping River providing a courteous and first class service since 1984. This extraordinary dreamy setting for a romantic dinner can also transform into a great party venue with live music from the areas hottest bands to dance to until the early hours.'
I would completely agree with this description of the restaurant. The setting is beautiful and I can't argue with the claim of 'excellent cuisine'. We found The Riverside to be welcoming and charming, if visiting Chiang Mai again, it would certainly be on the list of places to visit.
More information on The Riverside can be found on: http://www.theriversidechiangmai.com/