This would be the first time that mum’s parents had ever eaten anything vaguely foreign and she was not sure they completely embraced it.
Mum told me this story on a visit to see me after I moved here from Bristol and we happened to be walking through that very same square.
It is amazing to think how much changed in terms of the food landscape in those years between my mum’s and her parent’s generation in this country. This is something that both my and later generations take for granted, but is something that enriches our lives on a daily basis. The reasons I am telling you this story are threefold. The first reason is that on the day this review will be printed, the funeral for my mum’s father will take place in London. Pom Pom, as we grandchildren called him, was a master butcher in London and was always very supportive of his wilful and headstrong daughter – which is probably how they ended up in that restaurant in the first place.
Secondly, there is a very important political decision taking place this week that I am sure you have all become sick of hearing about. I for one am firmly in support of remaining in the EU for a number of reasons but there is one main one. All of our lives are made better through integration and cooperation with our European and global neighbours.
This country is a part of Europe and we live in a global world where the only way to create a fairer and more equal society is to do so together. I’m not saying it is perfect but the benefits, and I’m not just talking about having a choice of different restaurants, certainly outweigh the negatives.
Thirdly, and probably most in keeping with this theme of this column, I went to review the restaurant that is now on that very same site this week. Street Thai is a restaurant that claims to bring the “authentic Thai dining experience to people here in the heart of Brighton”.
Having not visited Thailand I am in no position to authenticate this statement, so I went with someone who has.
The restaurant itself is extremely large situated over two floors with the upper overlooking the square with an outside seating area. They have gone for a bit of a modern “street” feel with graffiti on the walls and references to Thai culture and street food. It is a pleasant enough space which is bright and clean. The menu is fairly extensive with all of the sorts of options that you would expect to see. We start with some Thai Spicy Crackers (£2.75) whilst we wait for our starters of Tom Yum Goong (Soup £5.75) and Bhuu Nim Tort Prik Thai Dam (Deep fried soft shell crab £7.65).
The prawn crackers have a good sweet flavour and a gentle heat making for a satisfying pre-meal snack.
The starters arrive and there are definitely mixed feelings. Tom Yum is one of my partner’s favourite dishes and should be extremely aromatic and bursting with vibrant Thai spices and a good chilli kick. This offering doesn’t meet expectations and is tepid and lacking in most areas.
My crab on the other hand looks very appetising. I tuck into the sweet crab meat that is not dominated by the batter, which is a little too heavy but not so much it ruins the dish. The accompanying garlic and black pepper sauce is neither here nor there but I enjoy the crab nonetheless.
Our mains of Kaeng Keaw Wan Gai (green curry £8.50) and Kao Mon Gai Tod (marinated chicken (£8.50) arrive and there is a reverse in fortunes. My partner’s green curry is a fairly standard offering that is creamy aromatic and comforting. There is a decent amount of chicken and assorted vegetables and the coconut rice is nice and sticky. It’s not going to win any awards but it does the job.
My chicken dish is somewhat disappointing with meat that is dry and flavourless with no hint of what it may have been marinated in. The stodgy rice does have a hint of garlic and ginger and the accompanying clear soup saves the dish a little by offering some respite from the dry chicken.
We finish with a banana fritter £4.95 and Matcha tea ice cream £3.80 both of which are tasty without being remarkable. Both servings are very generous and we leave the restaurant very full, if somewhat deflated.
Street Thai is one of those venues that occupies the middle ground between convenience food and restaurant food. The service is quick an efficient and the staff are very friendly and attentive. It would make a good place to go in large groups or for families who are after a cheap no frills dinner. There is plenty of choice on the menu and the venue is clean and spacious, just a shame that the food appears a little inconsistent.
This review first appeared in the June 18th Brighton and Hove Independent. The food was complementary and the restaurant was aware I was reviewing