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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rosa’s Thai Café

Soho (Carnaby)

Thai food is pretty ubiquitous in 21st century London. From fancy fine dining at Crazy Bear or Bam-Bou, right through to local neighbourhood pubs with extensive Thai menus, you’re never far away from a pad thai. But while exclusive upmarket restaurants are great for special occasions and the pub is ideal for a swift lunch, we would still like, now and again, somewhere that meets us in the middle. Somewhere that won’t break the bank, but still feels pretty authentic; that has more to the menu than just green curry, but doesn’t focus on stir-fried lobster.

Rosa’s is a Thai restaurant that perfectly encapsulates the best of both; a convenient middle ground with great food at affordable prices in pleasant surroundings. We recently visited the newly-opened branch just off Carnaby Street, the fourth in its mini-chain encompassing Westfield Stratford, Soho and its original branch in Spitalfields. This new outpost is Rosa’s largest yet with an extended menu to match. A bright, modern looking restaurant, the emphasis is on relaxed casual dining: the perfect place to meet with friends, to shelter from the winter rain and catch up for a gossip after work over dinner.

We first got stuck into a dish of Thai calamari and a plate of soft shell crab. Unlike most calamari, Thai squid isn’t battered. Instead it is marinated in herbs and grilled without the usual crunchy coating. Delicious and no doubt healthier, it’s incredibly moreish. The soft shell crab is equally delicious, with a sprinkling of fresh chillies giving it a piquant kick.

A wide range of salads, stir fries and curries are available as main courses. We tried two dishes that we had not tasted in a Thai restaurant before; grilled smoked duck breast and spicy scallops. The duck breast was beautifully grilled; rich, smoky and packed full of flavour. A naturally fatty meat, the accompanying steamed veg and jasmine rice prevented the meal from being overly rich. The spicy scallops are noted on the menu as being very spicy, and when they say spicy, they really mean it - a dish for lovers of real fire in their food. The scallops were fried with ginger, green peppercorns and red chillies, giving every mouthful three different kinds of heat. Luckily, our side-order of coconut rice provided a cooling accompaniment.

We were too full for dessert but we couldn’t leave without sampling the Thai-rish coffee for dessert. Irish coffee includes a shot of whisky, so naturally Thai-rish coffee includes Mekong Thai whisky. Whether it measures up against a single malt scotch is a moot point, as it certainly makes a cracking boozy coffee.

So, if you’re looking for a relaxed, informal place to shelter from the madness of central London with some excellent food, you’d struggle to find somewhere better than Rosa’s Thai Café.

23 Ganton Street, W1F 9BW

Average price of main course: £10.00
Average price of glass of wine: £4.75
Food/drink: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Value: 5/5


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