Now over twenty years old, the Thai Square chain continues to offer value for money and a menu that varies by location.
Quite a few people, we suspect, are familiar with restaurant chain Thai Square. With branches in high profile London locations such as Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden, as well as outside of the capital.
We recently visited the Islington branch of Thai Square, and were in fact a little surprised at how different it looks at first glance from some of their other venues (the Minories branch springs to mind as well as the Covent Garden restaurant).
The Islington branch reopened with a full refurbishment last November following its closure in December 2016 due to severe flooding after a public water main burst, adding redesigned interiors, a late night bar serving cocktails and a new menu.
The decor is a little odd: while a golden statue of Buddha greets customers at the entrance, the candles beneath are not lit, and the flowers by the golden boat at the back are plastic; plastic are also the ‘plants’ by the entrance, before said statue.
On the side walls are massive reproductions of Arcimboldo’s paintings which would seem more suited to an out of fashion Italian trattoria than a modern Thai restaurant.
The service was courteous and friendly but it could be quicker, especially considering that the place only had a handful of tables during the lunchtime we visited.
Being a well known chain with good value dining options, one could be forgiven for thinking that each restaurant offers exactly the same menu and the same experience and look & feel. Indeed, each branch has its own specials’ menu, with different dishes showcasing each chef’s preferences and tastes from the Thai cuisine.
We opted for some dishes from the regular menu, as well as dishes from the branch’s offering. A starter of Duck Spring rolls was a good choice, well fried, crunchy rolls. The Grilled Scallops with garlic butter, coriander and green peppercorn was from the branch’s own menu, and while it was a decent scallop dish, it was perhaps more reminiscent of french cooking than Asian.
The mains were more interesting: a Yellow chicken curry was creamy and well balanced, a rich curry with tender chicken chunks; the Green chicken curry was less satisfying, the curry not as strong as expected and not spicy enough.
The Jungle beef rib was the highlight of the meal, the meat falling off the bone of the huge rib, covered in beautifully aromatic herbs, chili and peanuts which added a zingy freshness to the fairly hot meat and represented a good value at £14.50.
A side dish of green papaya salad was also a good accompaniment, but lacked a little bit of flavour and zest and a touch expensive at £9.95.
To finish, Thai Square has a number of sweet options including a refreshing lychee mousse and a selection of ice creams and sorbets of exotic fruit.
For those keen on drinks and parties, the new elegant bar on the first floor has a great choice of cocktails with an asian twist as well as a selection of small bites, and they do happy hour between 6pm and 8pm.