This bistro-style restaurant is, we are told by the French owner, named from a well known poem by the great 19th century poet Arthur Rimbaud. It translates literally – and no doubt with poetic license – as the drunken boat, hence the rather nautical appearance to the entrance of the premises. No doubt the poem relates to a stormy journey but perhaps for such an imaginative writer that is rather prosaic?
The restaurant holds two surprises and has, I promise you, no suggestion of drunkenness about it. You will find firstly that it boasts not just a fairly classic French menu (such favourites as Coq au Vin) but also a quite extensive Thai menu – the cook is Thai it seems. Useful for those who want an alternative but sorry I cannot tell you more except that it had many attractive, reasonably priced dishes on offer.
Importantly the ‘Bateau’ also has 14 rooms for rent, so it is a pension and bistro combined. Some have a view of Wat Chedi Luang and it is situated in the heart of tourist land on what is popularly known a Walking Street, next to the Writers Club and directly across from the fashionable boutique U Hotel. It is also within a short walk of Wat Pra Singh so makes a useful bases for sight seeing, with Thapae Gate just minutes away.
The dining area is in fact in two sections, with a quite spacious terrace just off the street and an inside area, with air conditioning – and a bar. This is quite narrow and can accommodate about 16 customers. As the bar indicates the drinks menu is quite extensive, although on a recent visit for this review my Thai companion and I opted for the quite generous sized glasses of house wine: A Chardonnay from Australia and a red from Chile, both at 120 baht a glass. No French wines I was told by the proprietor thanks to the high taxes on wine, which we agreed were very unfair on both restaurateurs and on the public.
We chose a salad as shared starter, with garlic bread on the side. Another temptation was the shrimp- bisque (90 baht), or the moules in a white wine sauce but the salad proved to be very fresh and a generous portion, Oddly we had to ask for olive oil etc. to make our own dressing. The main menu is not untypical of the small but growing number of neighbourhood style French restaurants that are gaining ground slowly in Chiang Mai and does not seek to emulate the rather grand and well established French eating places that have long been a fixture of the City. As a main my partner chose breast of duck (290 baht), which was decently cooked and seemed tender. It came with a rather sweet sauce and was served with sautee potatoes and a little salad. The menu is primarily – in French style – devoted to meat dishes, including beef bourgignon – but there are a couple of fish options, including sole. There is also a dessert menu and as mentioned a range of alcoholic drinks and coffee. Le Bateau Ivre is open all day (no doubt serving French style breakfast from 8 a.m.) until 10p.m. You will find it at 141/8 Ratchadmnen Road and the ‘phone number is 053 272 012.
Find more details about the restaurant, recommended menu items, map, etc.