We have only just moved to Winchester and so far it has been delightful. However, sampling a first restaurant in a new area can utterly poison your view of the town and leave you questioning why you ever thought of visiting, let alone deciding to live there. Consequently, I’m rather chuffed to report that the seriously good food served at the Bangkok Brasserie has only increased my happiness to be living here by leaps and bounds.
Making quality Thai food no mean feat – it is a complex cuisine composed from an intricate palate of complimentary but often powerful flavours that, if imperfectly combined, can clash and over-whelm the senses. Whilst a couple of the dishes we tried could have hurt a bit more, the sophisticated harmony of tastes showed Bangkok Brasserie to be well up to the task of composing top tuck of this type.
I’ve said this before but it is so important I’m going to say it again. Don’t drink wine with Thai food, just don’t. Beer is best and Thai Singha beer is the option of choice. There was a wine list proffered, which featured what must be the only time someone has bragged about getting a desultory 83 Parker–points for a wine (the wine being a Thai Shiraz), but just ignore it: get some Singha.
The menu isn’t huge, but as we got lubricated for action it struck us that there were enough dishes we wanted to try to allow us different food on our first few visits. We chose two salads for starters and two curries with some rice as main courses.
I horsed down my half of the beef salad before Editor Daniel had even finished serving himself. All too often in Thai restaurants one gets tough, flavourless, over-cooked meat in salads; the beef here was nothing like that. We both commented that they must have used some quality cut from a decent animal in order for the meat to be so tasty and tender. The vegetables were crispy and fresh, with a piquant dressing that kept the whole thing lively. This really was quite impressive.
Our second salad contained a mixture of squid, prawns and mussels. I was pleased there were bugger all mussels as I hate the blighters but Daniel told me they were good specimens. The texture of the prawns told a similar story about them but, alas, the squid was just a hint on the rubbery side. Always a risk with squid, of course, but I’d be happy enough to eat this again (especially if I could talk them into adding a few more chillies in it).
The roast duck curry was extremely enjoyable. It had plenty of big bits of scrummy duck meat in it, complimented by the richness of the coconut cream-based sauce. It wasn’t amazingly hot, but the chilli character was strong enough, together with the crisp, freshness of the vegetables it contained, to keep it vibrant despite its lovely decadence. I thought putting large lumps of pineapple in a curry might be a bit weird but they fitted with the curry’s taste-profile very well. Definitely a super squirrel-grade curry; I loved it.
Finally we had a beef jungle curry. We’ve had this at many establishments and we like them when they provoke plenty of sweat. This was nearly hot enough but just lacking the fire required to make it a stirring, passion-charged dish. One again, the beef used was of a high quality and the vegetables pleasingly fresh. Just hotter please!
Something very odd did happen at the restaurant. All of the food contained a heroic amount of ginger, something I have utterly detested all my life. Even at New York’s mortgage-requiring sushi restaurants when the bleeders insisted I ate the foul stuff ‘because I had never had ginger done properly’ it made me gag. Tonight, for the first time in my life, I rather enjoyed the taste of gingery food, very gingery food, so either Bangkok Brasserie are very good at what they do or crapulence has destroyed my taste-buds. I think the former, it was a great meal.
I am more than willing to pay for good times but this meal, tip inclusive, was just a gnat’s protuberance above fifty notes. Considering the pleasure it delivered this is was an extremely reasonable price and encourages me all to return. Return rather soon, I fancy. I suggest you give it a whirl when wending Winchester way.
Bangkok Brasserie, 33 Jewry Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 8RY. +44 (0) 1962 869966