London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Oxford Circus

At the time of writing, the Olympics are coming to a close. It’s been a rollercoaster couple of weeks with unprecedented success for Team GB; Jamaica has dominated the track, the USA dominated the swimming and China dominated pretty much everything else. And Thailand? Were they there? I’m pretty sure I saw a Thai competitor at the weightlifting, but this sighting remains unconfirmed. Still, sporting prowess is not what impresses us. Oh no. And when your national cuisine is as good as Thailand’s, then maybe it’s time cooking became an Olympic event. It’s already more relevant than synchronized swimming…

London is already spoiled for choice with Thai restaurants, with Fitzrovia’s Bam-Bou and Crazy Bear among some of the best places to eat in this city. Another venue is now pushing them hard: Ora, situated on Little Portland Street, is aiming to join the premier league of venues, and, as with sport, competition pushes everyone forward (great news for hungry customers).

An unfortunate side effect of Seb Coe’s big East London sports day however, has been that restaurants in the West End have suffered as tourists and commuters stayed away from town, so Ora was pretty quiet when we visited. (On a normal day, it’s usually far busier, so we used our imagination to create the atmosphere in our minds). Although, fewer customers meant great service, with attentive and knowledgeable staff who made some excellent recommendations. We ordered the sampling platter to start, getting a taste of as many flavours as possible. Beautifully presented in individual dishes, we ate chicken and tofu cooked in a creamy and salty satay sauce and spicy papaya and chilli salad. Our particular favourites were the mini Thai fishcakes and crispy calamari with black pepper dipping sauce. The batter on the squid was exceptionally light and very moreish.

Our second course was soup (we had already made a conscious decision to skip dessert – we’re not pigs) which included a sweet and spicy Tom Yum soup with large, chunky prawns and a creamy chicken and mushroom soup with coconut milk. The Tom Yum was a personal favourite with a spiciness that left the lips tingling.

Three very different main courses followed and all were absolutely first class. The duck in red curry sauce was served on the bone, pan seared with crispy skin. We know we shouldn’t really eat the fatty skin, but it was just too good to avoid. The sauce is rich and subtly spiced, not too hot but bursting with flavour. The lamb, stir fried with mini aubergines, chilli and peppercorns, was more fiery however, and as fans of spice, we loved it. The meat was soft and tender, and both dishes naturally worked well with sticky rice. Our final dish was the beef salad – thin strips of supple beef char-grilled and presented cold with sweet, fruity salad. Sharing a few dishes between friends is always the best way to enjoy restaurant food and try as many different things as possible. We definitely recommend this at Ora. The dishes are too good to keep all to yourself.

Ora doesn’t just pride itself on excellent food, it also has an excellent wine list of many Thai wines and cocktails made with Thai spirits. We recommend the Thai whiskey with lemongrass and lemon juice, as well as the Black Pearl, a fruity little number containing vodka and fresh blackcurrants and raspberries.

The restaurant looks great too, modernist minimalism with lots of dark wood and subtle lighting. The only element stopping us from awarding Ora full marks is the price of the dishes, which can very easily creep up to a sizeable sum. That aside, the food is excellent and the service is exemplary, so sometimes it’s worth splashing out a little and treating yourself. Ora certainly isn’t far away from gold medal standard.

6 Little Portland Street, W1W 7JE

Average price for main course: £15.00
Average price for glass of wine: £5.00
Food/Drink: 5/5
Value: 4/5
Service: 5/5


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