When you have the travel bug you look for new cultural experiences. You want to try all of the native food and Thailand has no shortage of delicious fresh local food. However, sometimes you just want a place that feels a little bit like home. I was lucky enough to stumble across Compass Restaurant Bar and Bakery. It helps that it was directly across the street from the guesthouse budget hotel Vanilla Place (see Vanilla Place) where I was staying. When you walk in Compass already has a Western-feel. It looks like your favorite diner cafe back home. Nothing special about the decor jumps out at you right away. The specials are on the wall in the back and when you sit down you get two menus. The first is the specials menu that has a 2 course deal (250 baht) or a 3 course deal (300 baht). To put this into perspective, that's 2-3 extremely large portions of delicious food for 8-10 dollars USD. The second is a fixed menu that is filled with local and western favorites.
You'll notice right away that the theme is comfort food. The first night I ordered the 'safe choice' a bacon cheeseburger that they claimed was the "best". I'm kind of a burger snob and I came off of another disappointment that was The Shack of Koh Samui so I was cautiously optimistic. To my surprise the burger was quite good! Not the best, but certainly better than many of the others I have tried. The bonus is they didn't use Kraft American cheese. Despite what Thai people think, not all Americans like American cheese on their burgers. :) My friend was more bold and got the fall off the bone pork rib with compass sauce, mashed potatoes, and spinach. This came with a huuuuuuuge mixed salad of FRESH vegetables for 8 bucks! Folks, it was divine. The same meal in the states would be 25-30 bucks. The crown on her happiness was the 3 dollar wine. Even better since wine in Thailand is 20 dollars a cheap bottle and 10 dollars a glass. I repeat. They serve cheap good wine. Good luck finding cheap good wine in Thailand anywhere near that price. If you do find some leave a comment below and let everyone know where!
We liked this place so much that we came back a second time, which quite possibly beat the first experience. This time we shared a 2 course special getting another huuuuuge mixed salad, a passion fruit - mango smoothie, a coke, tomato soup, a southern fried chicken for the entree. Here in the states we call it chicken fried chicken. If the menu would have said 'chicken fried chicken' I would have passed on it as I'm not a fan. However, I'm so glad that I got it! Compass puts a twist on their "southern fried chicken" with fresh chicken (seems like it may be straight from their backyard) and a Thai-American fusion gravy that is very good. The whole bill came to 14 bucks. Yes. 14 whole dollars. Crazy and delicious!
We chatted with the waiter/owner Kon who recommended their Salmon with apricot or herb sauce and the pork ribs (which we already ate and loved). Ong is another person you'll see who waits tables and helps manage the restaurant at night. She is very attentive and very sweet. The last night we were there she helped us pick out some bakery gifts for the owners of Vanilla Place (our way of saying thank you for an awesome stay). Not only was the food terrific but the people were really lovely. This was the theme for Chiang Mai - really nice people. This was our take on Chiang Mai, but you know how the old saying goes, 'be nice to people and they'll be nice to you.'
Compass Restaurant Bar and Bakery I think I love you. Don't let the descriptions fool you travelers, this place is anything but ordinary. They may be Western descriptions but they put their own twist on their American New - Thai dishes. You won't taste these exact flavors in the states. You'll leave dreaming about the tastes, missing the prices, and not forgetting the warm smiles and great service. We will miss them... Let's not lie here... we are going back for another round before we leave! :)
Edited: third round - bruschetta and chili glazed chicken tenders (excellent!) and fries. Fourth round - half roasted chicken and fries and mixed pizza with added onions.
Make sure to tip these two. They work really really hard. This place is their lives.
Compass Bar and Bakery Website