When I was involved with the Wine Circle at Oxford we would frequently have to entertain winemakers or wine-merchants. The best place we could take them was to the Chiang Mai kitchen for quality Thai food. Admittedly, since those crazy days I’ve had better Thai food, both at [link2post id=”1195″]Addie’s Thai Cafe[/link2post] and in [link2post id=”920″]our own kitchen (thanks to Thai Food by David Thompson), but nothing in Oxford has come along to eclipse it. The Chiang Mai kitchen still has the best food in Oxford – worth a visit.
The Chiang Mai kitchen is down a back passage just off the High Street in a charming 17th century building with exposed wooden beams and impressively over-blown fireplaces. The restaurant itself is spread over two floors and both are usually full; they do a roaring trade.
The menu is comprehensive and filled with food that is cooked to order from ingredients flown in from every week from Thailand. As usual, in Thai restaurants I couldn’t give an epworth for the wine-list; wine just doesn’t go with global-thermonuclear war-strength chilli action. Beer is undoubtedly the way forward, but I have to admit that I like the elderflower sparkling drink they have; fruity and refreshing.
I started off with an old favourite, squid salad. They prepare the squid so it is meltingly tender and full of flavour. My dear mother had a starter I’ve never really seen the point of; spinach leaves with bits of minced chicken and peanuts on them. Yeah, you can eat it, but it is pretty freaking boring.
We had a couple of main courses. I loved my ground beef with Thai basil, chillies and oyster sauce; it was properly chillied to the max and so mind-bendingly hot. Linda and Douglas both had duck curry, and commented on the degree of skill with which it was prepared. The taste I had was certainly impressive. You’ve got to love duck curry when it is done well.
A meal for three cost £80 with drinks and a generous tip. Once again, the Chiang Mai kitchen delivered the goods and it was a most satisfying lunch. You cannot do better in Oxford.
Contact details are on their website.