There are some places that you enjoy so much you not only keep going back, you insist on taking other people along so they can share your delight.
And Bhan Thai fits very much into that “we must go here” category – or it did when we were casting around for somewhere to eat with chums.
Mind you, forward planning would help, as we discovered when we walked up to be so politely informed they were oot the door with diners and would we mind coming back in 40 minutes.
A wait for fine food is no hardship – especially when you can hang around in the Grape and Grain around the corner (a place that needs much more investigation by Mrs B and I in future).
Duly mellow when we sauntered back, we were ushered to our table at the heart of this elegant eatery, that’s all wooden panels and Thai knick-knacks, a place that has “authentic” stamped all over it.
By now our party of four were, shall we say, “peckish”. So it was not one, but two sharing platters to get us going.
The mixed platter was picture perfect when it arrived, a smorgasbord of chicken satay skewers, prawn on toast, spring rolls, pork ribs and prawns in pastry.
The skewers were a delight, perfectly cooked chicken, with a zingy peanut based sauce. The ribs brought a big meaty treat to the table, fall-off-the-bone tender, while the prawn toast was lush, crunchy and nutty, thanks to the sesame seed topping. The only downbeat note was the too dry spring rolls, but there were dips for that.
Meanwhile, the seafood platter was shouting “try me, try me!” And there was so much to try, from the massive prawn skewers, tender salmon satay and round patties of Thai fish cakes.
It was a lot of food but there wasn’t a lot left as we yakked and snacked.
As the dishes were whisked away we had a couple of minutes just to chill and chat, enjoy some cold beers and deep red house wine before the mains arrived.
Now, the good thing about eating with friends is that it doubles up your choices on the table.
The Gaeng Pa “jungle curry” was a fiery affair, full of pepper with tender chicken lurking just under the surface. It went beautifully well with the sticky rice we had ordered, each coming in a delicate wee bamboo steamer.
One dish that was new to me was the Tom Saeb.
This was more like a broth in nature, with tender beef nestling alongside bean sprouts and veg. It had bright notes from the lemongrass and the earthy tones of galangal, plus a splash of fish sauce.
What it also delivered was a fine chilli note that had my eyebrows going up involuntarily. Yum.
Another star attraction was the king prawn Phad Prik Sod. The tender seafood had been stir-fried with a melange of onion, fine beans, mushroom and garlic, creating a sweet dish, but again with those spicy accents.
However, as far as I was concerned the real winner was the Gaeng Mussaman. It’s described as a curry made with potatoes and peanuts and flavoured with spices.
Which is like describing an Aston Martin as a car with four wheels – it simply doesn’t do it justice. This dish had a depth of flavour – rich with coconut milk, sweet with anise, all complementing the bite-sized chicken – that made you want to just go at with a spoon and not stop.
We eventually had to admit defeat and leave some food on the table – but not a lot.
Off we trotted into the night, full, mellow and comparing notes on what we’d eaten. In short, everything you want from a meal.
What we had
- Mixed prawn crackers
- Bhan Thai Mixed Platter
- Bhan Thai Seafood Platter
- Gaeng Pa “Jungle Curry” with chicken
- Tom Saeb Phad Prik Sod with king prawn
- Gaeng Mussaman with chicken
- Sticky rice x 3
How much it cost: £166.56 (for four incl drinks)