"It's not much but it's ours"

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


It’s not easy trying to find a decent place to eat around Victoria. Il Convivio has always failed to convince, Noura is not what it used to be and there is precious little towards Westminster.

So, tonight when Dawn was working in town and suggested meeting near the station I had to do a bit of thinking.

Pre dinner drinks was the easy bit. The Goring of course. Quite the best of the remaining “old school” hotels in town. A splendid bar with good cocktails and excellent canapés. A perfect place for a post work wind down before supper.

But what for supper? I tried to persuade Dawn to some F&C’s but she was having none of it.

In the end, I remembered Mango Tree, that Thai place that sits on the corner of Grosvenor Place which always looks like it is full of the people you would want to avoid.

Well, it is. It is also full of attitude. In the front of house at least. We arrived sans reservation and expected to be told that we could only have the table for a limited time. That’s fair enough. But, this was 6.30pm and they wanted the table back by 7.30pm. Unless both us and the wait staff were to re enact the end of an episode of Benny Hill, that was never going to work. So, I said, “not to worry, we’ll see if Noura (next door) has a table” Suddenly, the table that was only going to be free for an hour was free for an hour an a half. Perhaps, Derren Brown was working the front desk.

All a bit snotty and off putting and I was pre disposed to hate the place. A bonus then that it actually turned out to be rather good.

Once we had left the dipsticks at FOH, the service was charm itself if a little keen on the “pour the wine and water upsell” which I despise.

I don’t even register on the scale when it comes to knowledge of Thai food. I did once go to Nahm with a real expert who described it as “execrable” but that is about it as far as my expertise goes.

That being said, this all seemed pretty echt and the cooking was clean and precise and the flavours discernable.

We began with three starters. Som Tum , a lime dressed green papaya salad which was fresh and crisp. Satay Nuer Luam Mid which was a mix of lamb, beef and chicken all of which were better than the rubbery versions I have tried before and Tod Mun Goong, small crisp shrimp cakes which came with a fiery plum sauce. Not bad at all.

Three main courses were standard but well prepared. A Gang Ped Ped Yang was as good an example of a red duck curry as I have tried in a long time if served rather shamefully in a scooped out pineapple. I kept expecting Alison Steadman to turn up and ask me if I wanted a Bacardi & Coke.

Pad Thai Gai, a Thai restaurant staple was also better than I recalled. But, best of all was Pad Ka Pow Moo. A new one on me which was a fiery pork fillet with plenty of chilli and basil

I wasn’t cheap. In fact, with a bottle of passable NZ Chardonnay and some sparkling water it came to about the same as last night. Around £100. That is, rather depressingly, becoming the norm now in London.

However, it was, despite the bad start, better than last night. Clean flavours, and real tastes. Things I might actually want to eat again.

Well, by now, our magical hour and a half was up. So we left. To be fair, the place was heaving and the room had a real buzz about it so I can understand why a reservation is needed. But, why the snotty attitude?

But, I guess it worked out even.

So, as I said, let’s call it a Thai
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