Sep 06 2013
Restaurant, bakery, tea and coffee shop and snack bar rolled into one, Pai’s famous Witching Well is not only our favourite eatery in Pai but one of our favourites in north Thailand, full stop.
Pai is famous for its bakeries and cafes, but what sets Witching Well apart is a commendable attention to detail. It offers an imaginative yet not too wacky menu, with good sized portions, quality ingredients and more than reasonable prices. Added to a central location, friendly staff and attention-grabbing decor and it’s no surprise that this Italian/Thai-run cafe is pretty much full from opening until closing times.
You may have to wait for a table, though efficient and fast service does mean a rapid turnover — the wait, though likely not too long outside peak season, it is worth it. The menu is eclectic, though all Western, and while most dishes are vegetarian, there are chicken and fish options. (There’s not a deliberate no red meat policy — they do offer beef burgers — but owner and chef Marco says it’s just to do with the quality of ingredients available in slightly remote Pai.)
Beginning with breakfast, you have a wide choice of healthy options, such as fruit salad and juice at 60 baht, eggs with salmon at 120, and some tempting and unusual omelettes such as the “wicked omelette” filled with mushrooms, onions, potatoes, rosemary and a mild curry sauce. There’s also a wide selection of crepes featuring various caramelised fruits and cinnamon, though we particularly like the mango and hot passionfruit custard one, a give away at 70 baht.
Moving on to lunch WW also offers an extensive sandwich and salad selection and again, highlighting the care for details here, our simple toasted cheese sandwich came with chunky potato fries in their skins and a home-made red pepper chutney.
Sandwiches and salads range from 80 baht for the above to 130 for a shrimp salad. Since the chef is Italian there’s an emphasis on pasta dishes for main courses, again mostly vegetarian but with some tuna, salmon and chicken options, too. Although most options are healthy, there are no pretensions of being a health food outlet here, and plenty of cheap beer and wine is on sale along with herbal teas or “potions”… which brings us to the witch theme.
The decor could place the cafe somewhere around the middle of Diagonal Alley and you half expect Hagrid to be sat in a corner supping on a large Chang. Broomsticks and witches abound, there’s some neat haunted house murals on the walls and of course the central feature is a magic well. Herbal teas are called “potions”, alcohol with mixers are “poisons”. As Marco explained, when they took over the location an old well was in situ, and since in Thailand it’s considered back luck to cover over a well, they decided to keep it and create the decor around it.
Even if you’re not hungry , the drinks menu is a lure of its own, with the aforementioned local coffees and teas designed to chill you out, perk you up, get over the previous night’s hangover or whatever, plus a great range of fresh juices and fizzes. Simple shakes or house-made fruit sodas are 45 to 50 baht.
The Witching Well
Tesaban 1 Road, Pai
T: (084) 366 4269, (0830) 245 8966
Open Tues-Sun, 08:00-23:00
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