Housed in an architecturally unique and award-winning building, the Thai Square Restaurant in Putney is situated along the South-side of the river, with glorious views across the Thames. It truly is a marvel to behold, even before one sets upon the tantalisingly delicious array of authentic Thai dishes on offer. Albeit a rather narrow and long restaurant, aligning itself perfectly to it’s river-side location, it is an ingeniously planned and functional layout. It is a strikingly modern building with almost ship-like shape and proportions. A ship’s bow style entrance provides an inviting, if not intriguing welcome to the restaurant, with the maître d’ situated left and downstairs bar further beyond.
“Upon entering, my partner and I were graciously welcomed by two delightfully courteous and well presented young Thai girls, who promptly ushered us upstairs via the flowing side-lit stair-case to the first floor restaurant”….
We are then led to a peaceful table on the far-side of the restaurant, beside an open floor-to-ceiling sliding-window with a balcony view over the Thames. The time is now just gone 7pm but the scorching day has not quite finished with us yet and the flawless light-blue sky persists with not a cloud in sight. Just as we have both done scouring the delightful scenery and acquainting ourselves with the Buddha behind us, we are timely presented with a menu each before being left to scan the wondrous Thai dishes on offer. Five leisurely minutes pass before we are asked if we would like to order our drinks, which although still spoilt for choice on the extensive menu, we have already decided that the array of seafood dishes look irresistible and thus opt for a bottle of House White.
“After sampling the wine, a simple yet light and refreshing Chardonnay with flowery notes and hints of peach, we are now ready to order”….
As a starter, we instantly agreed upon the
2-person ‘Mixed Golden Seafood Starter.’ For the main course we both go for Coconut rice; I choose ‘Pla Neung Manau’ (Steamed Sea Bass Fillet) whilst my partner opts for ‘Gang Dang’ (Red Curry), choosing chicken (versus the optional beef or prawn variant). Eagerly awaiting our starter and main courses, we are temporarily catered for by way of some appetising rustic looking prawn crackers served with a dipping sauce with mis-guiding sweetness followed by an addictive spicy little after-kick. Having conscientiously restrained ourselves from over-indulging in the prawn-crackers, we were thankfully soon presented with our Seafood Starter. This was cleanly presented on a slim white platter featuring scallop satays, butterfly king prawns, crab claw tempura and Thai fish cakes decorated with the addition of meticulously crafted carrots and courgette resembling little flowers. There was also a kind of sweet crispy-noodle-cake which I can only describe as being the noodle equivalent of a rice-krispie cake, seemingly formed by way of a sticky sweet-chilli mixture. Although not necessarily the highlight this was certainly a welcome addition to the platter and made for curious topic of conversation.
“The crab claw tempura I personally found to be too thickly battered, whilst the fishcakes perhaps a tad too moist, but that is rather a matter of taste than a dis-credit to the chef. For me however, the highlights were certainly the deliciously succulent scallop satays and irresistible butterfly king prawns for which I could easily have devoured a few more of.”
On to the main courses; having both gone for the traditional Thai coconut rice, my partner had chosen the ‘Gang Dang’ (Red Curry) which is a red curry using dry long red chillies (not so hot), cooked in coconut milk with bamboo shoots, lime leaves and garnished with shredded red chillies. For myself, being an avid fan of Seafood I had decided upon the Putney Speciality dish of ‘Pla Neung Manau’ (Steamed Sea Bass Fillet), which consisted of Seabass fillet steamed with lemongrass, fresh lime juice, garlic, chicken stock, crushed chillies, sprinkled with spring onions and garnished with thin slices of lime. As is always the case, Sea Bass is naturally a particularly light and subtle tasting fish, providing an excellent canvas for all manner of culinary experimentation. In this instance…
The combination of Lemongrass, lime, spring onion and chilli providing a rich and potent zinginess whilst the fish itself was cooked to perfection with flawless consistency.
Although not enough to savour all the intricacies, I did also taste the Red Chicken Curry, which I can also say was exquisite. Although not particularly hot, it was inconsistent enough in the chilli department to throw up some pleasant surprises when unknowingly devouring a spoonful featuring some seeds and/or a large slice of chilli. Generally speaking though, it was a gentle warm heat, restrained by the coconut milk which formed the basis of the curry. The chicken and bamboo-shoots were proudly tender and both perfectly cooked.
Desert, despite not being entirely necessary at this point, was more a matter of tasting the complete menu and also giving us time to lap up the breathtaking sunset whilst also catching up on the rest of the bottle of wine which had been somewhat forgotten amidst our enthusiasm with the food. My partner had opted for the safe-bet of a soothing mango soufflé whilst I had bravely agreed upon the more traditional Thai desert of sticky rice and fresh mango (cannot remember the actual Thai name), upon recommendation of our charismatic and personable waitress. While sticky rice as a desert is pretty alien to my taste-buds, it was a well-balanced and welcome end to an otherwise sublimely tasty palate, and stealing some of my partner’s soufflé when she left for the ladies’ room really helped smooth things down.
All-in-all the restaurant and setting was fabulous, the food was awe-inspiring and I was also thoroughly impressed with the impeccable service of the waitresses who all worked as a tight unit, never pestering, yet observant and on hand when required. I will most certainly be heading back soon to work my way through the rest of their menu and would certainly recommend it.
Reviewed by Sam Bryan-Merrett