Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Mai Thai Restaurant, Bath


Hey guys. So i thought it might be nice to also have reviews on this blog as well, and since i heard that the city of Bath has the most restaurants per square mile than anywhere else in the U.K (except London) i'm already in the right place.

My reviews will be short and sweet, to stop myself ranting on too much about this that and the other, focussing on the food and service.

I start with Mai Thai, a very friendly small 40ish seater Thai restaurant, located conveniently near Bath train station. Me and five of my friends went for a birthday dinner, and were welcomed warmly, and taken to our seats. (The Photo I used here is from the website, and I would say is a good representation of what the food actually looks like)

In terms of the building, I like the decor- the delicately carved heavy wooden tables with glass tops, and the statues of Thai ladies and elephants, but the bathrooms I soon discovered were a bit dishevelled (and you find them down a weird thin corridor with cleaning equipment strewn about carelessly).

Our waiter was very friendly, and brought us our drinks (we had all ordered Singha beers and they complimented the Thai flavours very well) and prawn crackers swiftly. We all had a laugh about the various typos on the menus as well, like "Numerous spies are used to enhance the flavour and to improve that taste".... really Mr Bond?

The menu, which you can look in full on the website http://www.maithai.co.uk/menu.html has quite a lot of choice, and in particular has a large range of interesting seafood options, such as dishes with crab claws or mussels. The dishes are shown in Thai and in English.

For starters I chose the 'Satay Kai Chicken' (or Chicken satay to me and you). The dish was well presented, and I thought the chicken tasted O.K (nothing different), but what I liked about it was that they gave you two sauces with it: the usual peanut sauce but also a delicious sweet rice vinegar sauce, which really brought the dish to life. If I were to recommend a starter however, I had a taste of my partner's (Nick) hot and sour soup, and it was absolutely delicious. It was a coconut milk based broth, with the predominant flavour of lemongrass, and a hint (definitely not an overpowering heat)of red chilli(and when I say that, I mean it- I am a complete wimp with hot food, but this dish was very flavoursome without being too spicy). One of our party's soups arrived about 5 minutes late, which meant we all started eating before her as the food gets cold quickly, which was unfortunate.

For my main course I ordered the " Ped Op Naam Peung" (Thai style roast duck in Thai herb sauce) and as a side dish "Pad Tang Taek" (Soft noodle stir fried with bean sprouts and spring onion). I did think it was strange there was not an option of plain noodles as a side dish, and that instead I was having to order an almost-main course priced dish as an accompaniment. However, when these dishes arrived, this noodle dish was quite big and definitely enough as a side dish for two.

With the main course, I felt there were a few setbacks. About three of the members of our party ordered sticky rice as a side dish. Their orders of sticky rice all arrived in a separate rice bowl- and inside that bowl the rice were in little plastic bags! We all immediately said what it reminded us of: Vesta boil in the bag ready meals. My friends were happy with their rice, but this was their first time trying it, and in my experience (when I worked 8 months in a Japanese restaurant) it wasn't very well cooked. The rice was not soft or sticky enough, it looked too "condensed" somehow. I don't think this boil in the bag method works with sticky rice, and have never seen it done like this before (we always used rice cookers) but i'm open to corrections.

I felt like my main dish had been badly described. It tasted all right, but was in something like a hoi sin/ teriyaki sauce, and the duck was quite crispy (you know when you get that strange texture you sometimes get in Chinese food when something is crispy but then its coated in a very thick sticky sauce, which changes the texture? I find it hard to describe) I was expecting a normal roast duck breast with a thin coriander/lemongrassy based sauce or something along those lines. It tasted nice, was fair enough in portion size, but it tasted quite generic. My noodles had a kind of sesame/soy flavour to them which was quite nice

However, we all had a very nice night, my friend had a very good birthday experience, and I felt it was a restaurant that would be good for large parties of people, due to the relaxed atmosphere of the place.

We got the bill for the meal including tip (which like most restaurants is just added on to the bill if the party is 6 or more) which came to £25 a head. We each had 2 courses, 1 side dish, and two drinks so i consider that a very reasonable price.

I would give them a 7/10 for service, and 6/10 for food, So an Overall 6.5!

Right, hope I didnt go on too much, this is my first restaurant review so be sure to give feedback on how i could improve.

Your obliging chef,

Melanie

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