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,
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.
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.
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.