If you’re traveling a far distance on a trip chances are you’ll be there for an extended period of time. We stayed in Thailand for two weeks and while we adore Thai food, for one evening we welcomed the change. But where could we find incredible alternative cuisine in Chiang Mai that would live up to the native foods we’d been enjoying? Shockingly, we were intrigued to learn that a favored cuisine in the region is…Italian food! And we were lucky enough to find the best in the region within our home base in the city.
It’s one of the nicest meals we had while we were on our Thailand vacation, the other being the Blue Elephant in Phuket. So, uniquely, it’s the only upscale, non-Thai meal we had the entire duration of our trip. It was truly a feast!
We weren’t at all surprised to see how beautiful the interior of the contemporary restaurant is given the attractive furnishings of Le Meridien Chiang Mai as a whole. Favola, which literally means “fable” in Italian, is complete with hanging copper pans and a view right into Chef Matteo Verini’s kitchen, and tables decorated with spotless wine glasses ready for quality drinks and luxurious white leather chairs ready for guests to melt into after a long day touring the city. I love how the hanging cylindrical shapes echo the shape of the popular Italian pasta, spaghetti!
The menu was so incredible it became immediately apparent we’d have trouble narrowing it down to just a few things for dinner that evening! With refreshing salads, creative appetizers, homemade pastas, and high quality meat…how is one to choose? Even the bread was homemade and amazing! Ultimately we started with arancini (rice balls) which were creamy and delectable with the most perfect crisp-crust on it. I was like a moth to a flame ordering fresh Buffalo Mozzarella salad. Chef Matteo came over to personally cut it in half to reveal the soft center of this satchel of gourmet cheese. I nearly melted when he drizzled olive oil on it and handed us flaky salt as a finishing seasoning, to our taste.
We opted for pasta for our main courses, craving a change from days of Thai rice and fish. I didn’t stay too far from the sea, however, because I saw my favorite pasta on the menu: squid ink! The presentation was worth it, alone, as it’s presented in a parchment paper purse, of sorts. I’m salivating writing this, looking at the photos… The potpourri of seafood inside included clams, prawns, scallops and calamari. My partner ordered mushroom risotto, which he declared the best he’s ever had after one perfect bite.
We never went thirsty throughout the meal! From fresh iced water with sliced citrus to delicately flavor it (my favorite), to delicious world-class red wine, to a taste of their award-winning, non-alcoholic “Monin Malai” drink served in a silver bowl, our tastebuds were elevated to new highs. We were also treated to after-dinner drinks, including limoncello, tiramisu liqueur and a cup of tea, to compliment a plate of assorted desserts that Pastry Chef Zulal Dalbas hand delivered herself. I felt star struck as we met the creator of the macarons we’d tasted in our room and incredible almond croissants the hotel offers. A million bravos for her and Chef Matteo and their incredible teams. Truly a gourmet, class act in every which way.