Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
There seems to be a formula to calculate the number of oriental restaurants in any given area – if you know the number of...

There seems to be a formula to calculate the number of oriental restaurants in any given area – if you know the number of Indian restaurants,

Baan Thai chicken satay

you can assume a similar number of Chinese ones, and, aggregating these two, once you reach a certain number, sure enough there will be a Thai restaurant as well. On the Island, it seems to be that for every ten Indian or Chinese restaurants, there is one Thai. Whether this is because Island restaurant-goers are less enthusiastic for Thai food, or simply because there are not so many Thai people on the Island it’s hard to say. Matt and Cat have no hesitation – they’re fond of Thai food, and so when visiting Cowes with a friend they booked a table at the popular Baan Thai, a long-established restaurant right in the heart of the town.

Entering the little restaurant the party was warmly greeted by the proprietress, who politely took Matt and Cat’s coats, and soon all were seated with drinks and complimentary prawn crackers at a comfy table. The place is laid out in a series of little rooms, which makes a good intimate venue. Probably not the ideal place for a huge party – but perfect for a cosy evening with a friend, or two.

The menu gives plenty of information – and a wide range of dishes. With hardly any prompting the friendly Thai lady came back to take the order, and was soon offering help and suggestions. Two starter dishes were to share for all three diners – chicken satay and crab and prawn toast. The starters were decent in size and exceptionally tasty. The chicken satay was especially good, and made Matt and Cat realise how desperately far from real chicken satay are the sad little skewers bought in supermarkets. This was the real thing, fresh, juicy chicken with delicate spices. It’s a shame that some classic dishes are generally known only through the faded ghosts that they have become through mass-production. Who would take seriously a chicken kiev or a doner kebab? It’s therefore a delight to rediscover such pleasures and enjoy the original dish cooked as it should be.

Baan Thai meal

Matt ordered roast chicken marinaded in garlic, and Cat ordered king prawns with baby corn and spring onions. Taking the advice of the amiable hostess, the three diners had one steamed rice, one fried rice, and one bowl of noodles. All three of these accompaniments proved to be different and interesting – the noodles especially so, coming with king prawns and spring onions.

Matt and Cat’s bill
Starter: chicken satay £4.95
Starter: crab and prawn toast £4.95
Main: king prawns £7.95
Main: roast chicken £7.75
Prawn noodles £3.95
Fried rice £2.50
Boiled rice £1.95
Thai beer £2.95

At this point in the meal the diners became aware of a slight disturbance in the gentle atmosphere of the Baan Thai. A kind of murmuring from another room was rising in volume, as a protesting drunken Scotsman was outmanoeuvred by a bevy of tiny Thai ladies who escorted him to the door with much polite but very firm twittering. Unable to pay his way, they’d finally had to send him off, and down the street he reeled. It was a remarkable display of professionalism which was typical of this restaurant’s excellent service – any restaurateur will recognise the difficult scenario of evicting an awkward customer without disturbing the others. Baan Thai rose flawlessly to the challenge.

The main courses soon drew the party’s attention back to the meal. A generous pile of sliced roast chicken for Matt, served in a light, tangy sauce. There was plenty of meat – in fact, nothing but meat. Matt was glad he’d taken the waitress’ advice and chosen the noodles which came with a bit of veg alongside. However the whole thing was satisfyingly tasty. Cat’s king prawns and baby corn was more balanced, with plenty of the title ingredients in a spicy, thin, sauce. It was a meal with good texture and flavour.

In summary, a very enjoyable evening in pleasant and relaxing surroundings, with outstanding service and very good food. Recommended.

  • Stephen says:

    There is a sign in the window saying Closed until Further Notice

  • Alexander says:

    Oh my goodness this has lost its shine.
    Surly service, mediocre food, dated decor, nasty loos. This place was good when Cowes was bad. It has been left behind in a weird timewarp. £55 for 2 people sharing a starter a main course each and just 3 glasses of house wine is frankly a rip off.’
    I have not been this disappointed in ages.

  • da yw wyth says:

    Well, have to say this place has upped its game since my last visit! Same homely atmosphere and welcome, but new sparkly menu cards, and best of all…. no peculiar taste to the stir-fries, and no resultant wakefullness…! Full marks this time, and nearly as good as Seaview!

  • da yw wyth says:

    I did try it again. Same enthusiastic welcome, complete with homely selection of spare glasses as I’d forgotten mine! Same odd taste to some of the food. Satisfying meal with lovely nutricious cabbage, broccoli and beansrpout seasonal veg stirfry. Same odd taste to the meal though, and woke up later as the suspect materials coursed their way through my gut. I think it is whatever is used for the frying – similar to the taste of tea made from tapwater that comes out of an old manky tank. Seaview for me, next time for sure….!

  • da yw wyth says:

    I must say that I also found the service flawless. Some of the food seemed to have an odd taste, though – no comparison with the quality at Seaview. Heartened by the appreciative comments here, though, I will venture to try it again.

  • Jamal salloum says:

    we had a lovely meal at Ban Thai with our two children. the food was excellent and the staff were very helpful in choosing the right portions for them and were willing to adapt to their tastes.While we were there a number of families called in for take away and the owners knew them as regulars. Great place to eat, we will make it our local when on the Island.

  • Where to start with this one…

    Reviewing this restaurant is a little like giving an employee an appraisal, we have known each other for a long time. Since we moved into the area in 2001 we have been eating at the Baan Thai fairly frequently, and there is a reason, its superb.

    My fondest memory is going there with a virtual empty cheque book after a very generous friend offered us as much as we could eat. Sadly the dream and the reality didn’t work out as the brilliant woman that runs the restaurant would only allow us to order what she thought we could eat! As it turns out, she was quite right, we were stuffed after the 10th course!

    I have also been there with large parties, and this is the one downfall of the place, it does tend to attract tables of hungry sailors, often 30 deep. If your involved its fun, however if your out for a quiet romantic evening the sight of a sweaty salt ridden moron drinking a bottle of red wine via a deck shoe is enough to kill the ambiance! However as a disclaimer, I have in the past been said moron, if its not your bag just avoid Cowes week.

    We visited the Baan Thai last month and I have to say I am pleased to report its as good as ever, if anything I noticed the service has even gone up. We ordered (and apologies for sporadic authentic names):

    Tom Yum Goong
    Pad Thai
    Cod Thai style with chilli and ginger
    Egg fried rice
    Red Thai curry

    Tom Yum is a favourite of mine and after many unsuccessful attempts to make it at home I can reveal this place serves the best I have encountered. The Pad Thai and the Cod are also on our favourite list and I am pleased to say it never disappoints. The Thai curry for me was a little lacking this time, but my partner in crime told me I was being picky as it was “delish”.

    Many people have asked me how it compares to the Thai in Seaview, in my opinion is easily on par, although you can tell there is a slight difference in cooking style.

    Some top tips:

    Dont go during Cowes week
    Make sure you book, it gets very busy
    Make sure you sit downstairs, less chance of being sat next to a party of 30

    A great restaurant run by nice people, I endorse it.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.