Sala Pha Deng is the lovely riverside restaurant at the Elephant Crossing Hotel. It is set on the river's edge of the Nam Song River, with wooden tables, both of the picnic-style variety and the cocktail variety, depending on where you sit. The view is great, as the river is backdropped against the mountains, with villagers walking their water buffalo, and riding motorbikes over the wooden bridges crossing the river. An occasional drunk tuber might float by, or kids might be fishing in the river. Very nice to sit out here and enjoy the view (make sure to wear long sleeves and pants at happy hour times 5-7PM because there are a lot of mosquitoes). They provide candlelight after dark which is nice too.
The service staff is all very young kids, who spend more time talking with their friends, looking out at the view, or slowly meandering through the property than attending to the guests. Most of the time they are nowhere to be found at all. The dishes are cooked one at a time, and you will need about 2 hours to eat a full meal, as each dish takes about 30 minutes to come out. The bell is rung, and your food sits there for ten to fifteen minutes, as the service staff continues to chat with their friends or the other staff members in the back room before getting around to bringing you your food. Half the time, the bar is unattended, and most of the time no staff members are anywhere to be found in order to receive service. When they do show up, they have limited English, but that is not a problem, it's enough to communicate - and they do smile and are friendly enough. Just have lots of patience, and don't be in a hurry.
The food is hit and miss - we had a BBQ beef dish that was fresh and tasty one day, and a chicken dish that was also good. The next day, our vegetables were terribly overcooked, and the beef in a stew was so overcooked you couldn't even chew it, but a BBQ fish was tasty.
Don't go here for breakfast - most hotel guests came out, took one look at the breakfast, and then walked into town to eat. They were the smart ones. It's only a dollar or two for breakfast anywhere in town, and this buffet isn't worth your calories, even for free. It is a nice ambience though, so if you're not hungry, you can enjoy a very nice morning view with a cup of tea (watch out for the coffee though).
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