Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Review: Thai Balcony Restaurant, Bath

Review Thai Balcony
Happy new year everyone! The blog got over 500 hits yesterday, which has never happened before, so that’s a nice finale for 2013! On Christmas Eve, me and my parents visited the “Thai Balcony” restaurant, for a cosy pre-Christmas meal. I have been here before, a long time ago now, about 6 years ago? I didn’t leave with the most positive opinion of it to be honest, I went there with my first boyfriend and we got a set meal which turned out to be more expensive than advertised and ended up being a complete rip-off. However, I am of the opinion that every place deserves a second chance, especially because I know how much catering staff move around, and within 6 years the whole waiting/kitchen staff could be completely new, and the place much better.

We got into the restaurant and it wasn’t too busy, we were placed at a table in the middle of the restaurant. Also in the middle of the restaurant is a giant water feature, which I find a little odd in such a small restaurant, and (maybe others don’t) but I found the noisy trickling fairly irritating. Anyway, we waited a fairly long while for our drinks order to be taken, but it arrived fairly quickly so this was fine. When we ordered our food, the waitress that was writing down our order was incredibly surly and rude. She kept looking away to other parts of the restaurants and ignoring us whilst we were ordering, and then snatched our menus from us- very rude! Me and mum had the vegetarian spring rolls for starter, and my dad had the vegetarian hot and sour soup. My spring rolls with plum sauce were delicate and delicious, typical of good Thai restaurant food, and my dad’s soup (although I did not taste this being a chilli wimp!) was apparently very hot and very tasty.
Our mains arrived fairly promptly, but the waiter pretty much ran away before I could ask for anything. I had to go up to the counter to ask for water and to ask for soy sauce. I ordered the Chicken Thai Green Curry, which I found particularly disappointing. The sauce did not have the delicate lemongrass/ thai basil/ splash of fish sauce flavour to it, and I thought the sauce just tasted spicy and a little “dull” I suppose. The amount of chicken in this dish was also very skimpy portion-wise, and the little amount of veg in the curry included a few fine strips of red pepper, and some bitter undercooked pea aubergines. I had some plain fried noodles with beansprouts on the side of this, which were acceptable but not mind-blowing, and shared egg fried rice with dad. The egg fried rice was under seasoned, and I tried some of dad’s spicy tofu dish (described as “bean curd stir fried with chillies, fresh garlic and basil leaves” on the menu) and this was also severely under seasoned- Dad practically had to pour a bottle of soy sauce over it to make it taste of anything. Mum had a tofu pad thai which I tried- and again, it just lacked “oomph”! The tofu was flavourless (“ But tofu is always flavourless!!” I hear people cry, but this isn’t true, if tofu is in a strong dish and cooked properly then it should soak up the flavours) and the pad thai noodles did not have the sweet and sour flavour that they should have.

I don’t normally order desserts, but as it was the festive period, me and dad decided to share one. I was impressed by their dessert selection actually- they had the usual pre-made frozen desserts that you get in Asian restaurants, but they also had a scrummy sounding selection of about 10 odd sounding ice creams/sorbets, like green tea ice cream and black sesame sorbet and things like that. Dad and I shared a lychee sorbet (which we ordered through that rude surly waitress again, and even though we made it really obvious we were sharing- we actually asked for two spoons, she came back with it with one spoon, and gave us a weird look when we asked for another one. Basically the waitress was not listening to us at all throughout the whole meal. Also mum and dad ordered cappuccinos with our desserts and they both said they were very weak.

I can’t remember the exact bill, but basically it came to over £30 per person, which is more expensive than other Thai restaurants in Bath, where you would have two courses, and side dishes, and loads of tiger beers for £25 or less. So unfortunately, similar to my visit 6 years ago, I left Thai Balcony underwhelmed and overcharged. The place isn’t the worst Thai restaurant in the world, don’t get me wrong , but if you give skimpy (yet expensive portions), your food is under seasoned, and you can’t make flavoursome thai green curries/pad thai (I believe essential dishes and a good test for Thai places), then you need to get your act together. I would give it a 4 for the food (it would be less, but as mentioned previously, the starter and the puddings were acceptable) and 5 for the service, which was brought down by a rude waitress.

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