Tel: +44 (0)20 7938 3585
Address: 14 Wrights Lane, Kensington, W8 6TF
Cuisine Type: Thai
High Street Kensington
The corner plot of this restaurant looks completely overgrown. Every conceivable surface is covered with greenery, sprouting out of window boxes, lining the first floor balcony and in pots of varying sizes. None of it is untidy or weed-infested; quite the contrary, for it appears that the green fingers behind this unexpectedly verdant patch have excelled themselves to the point when the plants dominate the façade and almost mask the fact there is a restaurant lurking underneath.
Inside, the ground floor room is unnecessarily gloomy. The plants block out the natural light, and there is insufficient artificial lighting to compensate. One lunch we had here was rather depressing, our enjoyment of the otherwise tasty food diminished by the imposed lack of light on an otherwise sunny day. Rather, ask for an upstairs table, and better still, for one of the tables in the window alcove, even if you do have to share the space with a couple of large palms.
There is a good value lunchtime menu, which offers a choice of starter and main course for £7.95 per person, though the options are more pedestrian than the a la carte. Expect the likes of prawn toast, spring rolls, satay sticks, dim sum or tom yum soup for starters (only the last of which I really consider Thai), and a choice of red, yellow, green or Massaman (slowly braised beef curry from south Thailand) curries for a main course. The curries are tasty, if milder than an authentic version, and come in generous portions.
For dinner, the full menu offers potential for more adventurous forays into Thai cuisine. Over the course of a few visits, we’ve sampled the likes of Pla Rad Plick (a whole fried fish in a garlic and chilli sauce, crispy and very tasty but a tad pricey at £11.95), Pla Koong (salad of grilled prawns with shallots, lemongrass and a decidedly bold chilli kick) and Pad Thai (good the first time, disappointing the second, because they’d run out of bean sprouts so used fried bean curd instead). The other rice noodle dishes are worth trying and, with the generous addition of seafood, meat or vegetables, make adequate meals in themselves.
The wine list is mediocre – we struggled to pick a bottle to go with our food, and the waitresses know next to nothing about them. However, the various bottles we’ve eventually plumped for have been pleasant enough.
Desserts (around £4 – £5) are missable – a range of bought in ice cream, including the enticingly exotic sounding “Terrace Ice Cream”, which turns out to be a scoop each of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. If, like me, you have a sweet tooth, go for the banana fritters with vanilla ice cream.
The only other downside is the service. Utterly courteous in every respect but incredibly slow. We’ve had to ask after our food on several occasions, only to be told each time, without hesitation and before checking, that “it’s on its way”. Obviously a glib answer that the waitresses use frequently. Still, if you’re not in a hurry, this is a good alternative to restaurants on Kensington High Street itself, and it hasn’t deterred us sufficiently from making several return visits.