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  1. PLEASE NOTE: This review concerns a restaurant called the Wooden Box, not some of the other wooden boxes that can be encountered in Jomtien, whether in condo buildings or in bars. The Wooden Box has been open about six months on Thapphraya Road in Jomtien, next door to the Pattaya Provincial building. It specializes in salads and other healthy food, although it is by no means vegetarian. There's plenty of meat, fish and seafood on the menu to keep the veggies company. According to its Facebook page, the Wooden Box is Thai owned and operated. The Facebook page also says the restuarant grows its own vegetables and herbs on site hydroponically. There's a pic on the page of the tanks and trays in full bloom with healthy green stuff, but they were empty when I visited yesterday. The view after dark. The restaurant is open from 9.30 a.m. until 10.30 p.m. and serves all-day breakfasts in addition to its lunch and dinner fare. Salads are the restaurant's focal point. The "basic" salad, a huge portion of greens and three toppings, costs only 77 bahr, including dressing. My salad below cost 123 baht as I asked for extra toppings (boiled egg, beetroot, almond slivers, raisins, etc.). The salad is literally a meal in itself. The interior is bright and spotlessly clean. The seating, which includes some sofa and armchairs. is comfortable. There are tables indoors and out with space for 60 diners. The salad bar is impressive, but I'm not sure if there's an "all-you-can-eat" buffet option. I'll ask about that next time I visit. Prices are very reasonable for the salads and a lot of the other dishes, with plenty of options under 300 baht. However, if your tastes run to ribeye steak or lobster, you'll be paqying the same prices as in comparable restaurants. The steak cost 535 baht and the lobster 935 baht. The first time I visited Wooden Box, I only ordered salad and a watermelon smoothie. You order the salad on a check-box menu, ticking off the options you want. The salad was fresh and the various components were packed with flavor. The homemade balsamic dressing (one of about five options) was great and the salad came with a bowl of grated Parmesan cheese, which gave my salad a nice accent. Total cost was 198 baht (123 baht for the salad, 75 baht for the smoothie). On my next visit, I had the mushroom cheeseburger at 255 baht. Instead of a bun, it features two extra large mushroom caps (breaded and deep-fried) as the top and bottom layers. It was a novel idea- I've never seen it before- and very well executed. It came with a small serving of salad, shredded beetroot and a few potato wedges. The beef patty was tender, well-seasoned and cooked properly. In all, a delicious and filling meal and good value for money. My next meal wasn't nearly as good as the mushroom burger. I decided to try the eggs Benedict, which turned out to be a big mistake. Eggs Benedict is a U.S. dish consisting of poached eggs and Canadian bacon on a toasted muffin, then topped with Hollandaise sauce. This is what it's supposed to look like (pics from the Net): And this was what I got: Everything was smothered with a thick Hollandaise sauce that wasn't good. Instead of a layer of Canadian bacon, it was topped with a slice of streaky bacon and had some diced ham inside. There was also a layer of spinach and slices of French bread had been used rather a muffin. The eggs were poached properly, but that's about the only positive comment I can make. It didn't taste any better than it looked. Since the pics are depressing, I'll add a bit of info about the dish itself. There are two main versions of how it originated. The most accepted version says it was invented in the 1860's by Charles Ranhofer, the legendary chef at Delmonico's in New York City. Supposedly the wife of a NYC millionaire named Benedict wanted a dish featuring poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce and Raqnhofer came up with eggs Benedict. The other version holds that it was invented in the 1890's when a stock broker named Benedict asked in the restaurant of the Waldorf Hotel for poached eggs and bacon on toast with a boat of Hollandaise on the side. He wanted it as a cure for a hangover. The chef at the Waldorf was impressed and decided to add it to the menu, but substituted Canadian bacon and a muffin to make the dish more fitting for the fancy Waldorf. I scraped off the sauce and ate the eggs. It can be that eggs Benedict was a culinary bridge too far for the Wooden Box. Eggs Benedict is like the girl in the nursery rhyme who had a curl in the middle of her forehead: when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid! It's rare in the U.S. to find eggs Benedict done properly, even less likely abroad. However, the meal wasn't a complete flop. The 235-baht price included coffe or tea, a glass of real orange juice and some fruit. On that basis, I'd give it a 4 out of 10. The miss with the eggs Benedict won't stop me from returning to Wooden Box. I want to try this special before it runs out on Aug. 15: Bottom line: Wooden Box is a welcome addition to the Pattaya food scene with its salads and "Thai fusion" dishes. Just don't order the eggs Benedict. Evil
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