A cool new addition to intu Eldon Square’s new and colourful range of restaurants. The shopping centre’s new dining quarter takes you on a culinary trip around the world and Chaophraya puts Thailand firmly on the map with a perfectly-sized menu, brimming with Asian-influenced small plates, platters and sophisticated mains. We were given a sneaky peek a few days before its official launch this Saturday (December 10) and dining among us were all kinds of folk; businessmen in sharp suits, dressed up ladies clinking champagne glasses and friends kicking-back with cocktails and tasty sharing bowls.
It feels upscale – and it’s a lot bigger than you’d think. Lots of gleaming gold, mahogany tables, crisp white napkins, gorgeous lantern-style lighting and a sleek bar serving all kinds of Thai-inspired cocktails and bubbly. Nothing feels/looks cheap or gimmicky. And the panoramic views across Grey’s Monument, Grey Street and beyond are second-to-none. You can even see individual seats at St James’ Park. Nab a spot near the floor-to-ceiling windows and get that high-in-the-sky feeling.
Cocktails, fizz, beer, ales… all the usual tipples. The bar is gorgeous; small and tucked away in a quieter corner of the restaurant, but still really inviting and buzzy, ran by a team of well-dressed bartenders mixing and muddling all kinds of drinks.
Small starters and sharing plates to kick off your meal (that’s how they do it in Thai culture), followed by a mix of traditional and innovative mains – from chicken pad thai and good old green curry to steamed seabass, spicy beef and duck tamarind. If you’re being good, there’s a good amount of lighter options too, including grilled tuna superfood salad and juicy king prawns with ginger. Desserts are really fun; there’s a ‘white chocolate box’, a hot, melty chocolate bomb, a meringue creation, Thailand’s answer to sticky toffee pudding and some really nice ice cream/sorbet options as well.
We started with the vegetarian sharing platter; a medium-sized plate of crispy veggie spring rolls, Thai veggie tacos, giant onion rings, tempura broccoli and courgette and a couple of traditional sweetcorn cakes. These really stood out; small patties of smushed fried corn, blended with red curry paste and a kick of lime. Great when dunked into the homemade sweet chilli sauce.
For mains, we opted for steamed seabass fillets, bathed in a fresh and zingy lemongrass, lime and coriander root dressing. The fish was cooked perfectly; light, flaky and bright white (just look out for a few bones). It came with a crunchy salad of yellow soy beans, sugar snap peas and chilli and mint. A real treat for the tastebuds – it made our nose run, but in a good way. Really invigorating. Our dining chum went for tofu pad thai – a neat stir-fry dish of soft Thai noodles in a tamarind sauce, joined by soft tofu, spring onions, carrots, sweet turnip and bean sprouts, topped with sweet pickled vegetables. A real winner – and portion-size was spot on.
We shared the mango meringue roll for dessert; a light and fluffy cloud, rolled and served with juicy Thai mangoes, a dusting of roasted almonds and lightly caramelised strawberries. We added a couple of scoops of peach and prosecco sorbet to the mix to finish things off – our new favourite.