Impressive Thai Square Opens in London

21-24 Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5BN

The Thai Square restaurant has just opened in the former Norwegian Embassy just off Trafalgar Square, and it promises to be one of the top new Thai restaurants in London. An investment of over 5 million has resulted in a 450-seat facility incorporating a nightclub where Thai Karioke and kickboxing are also on the agenda. A team of specialist chefs preparing a range of Thai food that includes some house specialties complements a stylish and spacious interior. They include Homok Talay (steamed seafood with curry mousse and lime leaves, served in banana leaf), Kanom Jeeb (Thai dim sum) and San Saab Curry (jungle curry with dried long red chillies cooked in chicken broth with peppercorns, shredded grachai, aubergines, bamboo shoots and long beans).

One of the most interesting aspects of the restaurant is that it is one of only a few in the world serving the food on celadone tableware. This is a process where the plates are glazed with dried clay and special additives, and after a series of time consuming steps involving red hot kilns at temperatures up to 1250 c the glaze is produced on the plates. It appears to give the food that little bit of extra gloss, as all the dishes I tried at the Thai Square were excellent and incredibly vibrant. The cutlery is also unique at Thai Square. It was as if Uri Geller had been hired to bend all the forks and spoons in the place, making them easier to handle than normal cutlery. It is worth going just to check out the plates and cutlery which is something that most of us takes for granted. I went for lunch and found the atmosphere very busy and lively, so clearly the word has already got out about the set lunch of 3 courses plus a glass of wine for 8.95.

We used these for the "Thai Square" starter selection at 12, which is enough for two people. I have always found this to be the best way to go with food you are not too familiar with. Spring rolls, dumplings, chicken satay and a Thai spicy salad are included with the dumplings standing out-fat and juicy but unfortunately not available on their own. There are a total of 23 starters to choose from including soups and salads and a few of them look interesting next time around. Samui soup is a spicy seafood soup with shallots, lemon grass, lime leaves, basil leaves and fresh chilli and is served in a traditional steamboat. We got a taste of Rice vermicelli noodles in the starter selection and I loved the taste, and that is available as a separate dish at 7.95 and is known as Pratunamm Salad and includes prawns, minced chicken, onion, coriander and celery in a chilli and lemon dressing.

The main menu comprises of 7 Thai curries all priced at 7.95, 20 pan fried and special dishes costing between 8.95 and 18. Plenty of extra items like rice, noodles and vegetable dishes as well and the steamed rice at 1.95 was possibly the freshest and best tasting I had had in a long time. No sticky clumps here. The three dishes selected to try were the Phed Makham (Duck with tamarind sauce), Macha Raksanook (Fish with Chilli) and Chonburi (King prawns with garlic and pepper). All three were very fresh tasting and highly recommended .The Duck was thinly sliced and was well complemented by the very sweet tamarind sauce and accompanied by thinly shredded cabbage and only priced at 10. The fish at 12 with chilli was a crispy fried pomfret, a traditional Thai fish and again like the duck well served by the sauce and attractively presented on a fish shaped platter.

The wine list is very small but extremely selective and very well though out. The two house wines for example are both top notch. The very in wine at the moment is the Sancerre, and the 98 La Cole de Sury is good value at 21 with a strong flavour and excellent after taste. The Crozes Hermitage 97 is the house red and is probably equally enjoyable. Service as you might expect is very attentive, despite claims from the manager that "they are still trying to get things right". Hardly surprising when you find out he spent seven years at the ultra-efficient Blue Elephant.

Average cost of dinner for 2 with wine- 70

Michael Hepworth August 99

Tel: 0171-839-4000
Fax: 0171-839-0839

Open Monday-Saturday-12.00 pm- 3.00 am.
Sunday-Noon until Midnight
All major credit cards accepted except Diners.
Nearest tube-Trafalgar Square
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