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Dining Out

Nightmarch

Dining Out: Café Paradise - Ostrich Fondue Fun

by Miss Terry Diner

The Dining Out Team has reviewed Hans Banziger’s Caf้é Paradise and Grill more than once, but Hans, the inventive international chef, keeps on coming up with new promotions which entices us back. This time it was to sample his Ostrich Fondue, on at the same time as his Hawaiian Food Promotion. Hans said that the idea of the Hawaiian promotion came from the Pearl Harbour epic movie!

For those who have not been to Café้ Paradise and Grill, it is one of the more tastefully decorated restaurants in Pattaya. High ceilings, plenty of windows, huge tropical murals on the walls and a large urn with an artful display of flowers all mark the restaurant as having had some thought put into the initial design. Added to that is the ever watchful Hans, a restaurateur with a very much ‘hands on’ approach (or is that a “Hans on” approach?).

Before mentioning the ostrich, a few words about the Hawaiian promotion. There are six items ranging between B. 180 and 260, with the average only B. 195. Amongst these are such dishes as a macadamia crusted parrotfish with a mango and roasted sweet pepper, or a duck fillet with Hawaiian teriyaki sauce and pineapple or a lamb steak with ginger and garlic “Tutu”. To complement the food, Hawaiian music plays gently in the background too. Also on the menu are some of the rotating specials including a braised beef in burgundy wine sauce and an ostrich fillet Remy Martin or Diane.

However, it was the ostrich fondue that we had come to review. Hans said that he initially tried putting this on as a special 12 months ago and it had been very popular, but supplies were a problem. This appears to have been overcome and he was excited at being able to offer this meat.

At this juncture it should be pointed out that ostrich is not like a giant turkey, the meat is red and looks like normal beef. Hans recommends that the meat be cooked medium-rare, as this is the best way to experience the soft texture and flavour. While the fondue was being prepared we had a honey and sesame chicken salad for Madame and a Cajun prawn salad for myself. Both of these were excellent, and the dressings superb. The wine we chose was the house special for the month, an Agostinos 1999 Chardonnay from the Cachapoal Valley in Chile. This was full bodied and mellow and fantastic value at B. 690.

So to the fondue. It costs B. 380 per person and is served like the classical Fondue Bourguignon. Each diner gets an individual plate with a choice of potatoes (french-fries or potato salad) plus some pickled vegetables and a good sized serving of cubed ostrich meat. In addition, your dining plate is sectioned to hold the six sauces you can use with the meat. As Hans said, “Each one is a new taste experience.” And look at the choice - ginger and garlic soya, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, honey and mustard sesame, lime flavoured olive oil, pepper and brandy and a cocktail sauce.

We stabbed and cooked and sauced and stabbed and cooked and tried all of our six sauces. For Madame it was the ginger and garlic that appealed most, but for me it was the honey and mustard sesame. Hans is also correct when he said medium-rare is best - and it only takes a minute in the fondue.

Madame managed to squeeze in a raspberry and brandy crepe dessert which was also a wonderful taste, but Miss Terry was full!

The Ostrich Fondue was certainly a new taste sensation for both Madame and Miss Terry. Fondue cooking is always fun, and the serves were very filling. For a different dinner the Dining Out Team gives a very high recommendation to the Ostrich Fondue, and congratulates Hans on maintaining the very high standards in his restaurant, where, as Hans himself says, “The price is right.”

Caf้ Paradise and Grill, 215/62-63 Pattaya 2 Road, opposite Shenanigans/Royal Garden Resort, tel. 723 177.

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Nightmarch

I’m often asked what ogling den I consider to be the best in Fun Town. The night scene in Pattaya, particularly in the ogling dens, is such a moveable feast that to pinpoint one or two specific chrome-pole palaces and declare them to be the best is almost impossible.

Let’s just look at the variables for a start.

Everyone has personal preferences when it comes to ‘looks’. There are those who like tall, waif-like dancing maidens, the types of girls who would snap in a high wind. Others like a more comely or stocky frame, dancers who could take up Sumo wrestling if they lived in Japan.

Some punters like dark-skinned females, others prefer lighter hues. Some will only consider girls younger than 25, others prefer the company of more seasoned campaigners, even those who are well into their thirties.

What about the friendliness or otherwise of the dancers? Some bars have girls who are considered good-looking, but they rarely smile or put themselves out for customers. Other places have ladies who are more average in the physical looks department, but they take the time and effort to make customers feel welcome.

Then we come to ambience: too well lit, too dimly lit; old furnishings versus newer decor; the music mix. On the latter, I personally like most music, but in some places, to refer to what is played through the sound system as ‘music’ really is taking liberties with the word.

Drinks prices are another consideration, along with the number of dancing maidens clinging at any one time to the silver poles. There are those joints that have high overheads due to their prominent locations and large squadrons of dancers and are thereby compelled to charge more for liquid refreshments. Others have fewer dancers but the booze prices are cheap.

Getting back to the females who ply their trade from these dens, many of them move around more than a fugitive on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. One day you find yourself a ‘favourite’ who happens to work in one playhouse, a month later you go back to find she has gone.

All that said I have found that in general, the well-run ogling dens are fairly consistent with regard to quality and numbers of dancers, appropriate music and service. Though they may occasionally strike periods where they ‘go off the boil’ as it were, they can usually be relied upon to bounce back pretty quickly.

Around town: The Hot and Cold 2 ogling den has moved from its former premises in the lane between Soi 7 and Soi 8 and is now just off Soi 7, in the small soi leading towards Central Pattaya Road and down from the popular After That beer boozer.

The setup is fairly rudimentary at the moment but there are plans to take over the adjoining shophouse and turn the den into a giant show and tell playroom. This is due to take place any time soon.

In case you were wondering, the Hot and Cold 2 ogling den is a separate entity to the Hot and Cold play palace located in Soi Post Office. Although the people connected with version two were the former owners of the original, they have since relinquished involvement in the Post Office setup.

A Champion idea: The long-established Champion ogling den (Walking Street) has been doing a lot better business in recent times ever since owner Khun Joo decided to take a more hands-on approach to running the chrome pole palace. Spirits are at 90 baht, draught beer is 55 baht and the music is good rock and pop.

Up to their old tricks: A couple of recent incidents have been brought to my notice involving foreigners being short-changed at the Pattaya Bus Station (North Road) when buying the 90 baht tickets. Basically, if you hand over a 500 or 1,000 baht bill (especially the latter) you might find yourself 100 baht short. Funnily enough, as soon as you look like querying your change, the 100 baht miraculously appears, with a smile and a brief apology. Of course, not all the employees are working this scam and, no doubt, the occasional genuine mistake is made. Just make sure you count your change as soon as you purchase the ticket. Also check your fingers.

My e-mail address is: nightmarch@hotmail.com

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