Cold winter evenings in the city call for indulgent comfort food. Caroline Dask is yet again experiencing the best Newcastle has to offer with a visit to Mantra Thai…
Tuesday seems to be the new Friday, as the city is buzzing with lively chatter and a pleasantly busy atmosphere. A hunch tells me that the famously popular Newcastle Restaurant Week has something to do with the excitement filling the streets. And with so many restaurants tempting with delicious food offers, it would be a shame to miss out.
In need of some soul-warming dinner before seeing ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ at Theatre Royal, we settle on Mantra Thai. It’s an elegant Thai establishment, offering classic Thai dishes, cocktails and a warm ambience. Upon arriving, the exterior is simply magnificent and tells that we’re off to a great start.
Mantra Thai: First Impressions
From the moment we step in, the atmosphere envelops us. It speaks of authenticity and dedication to the art of Thai cuisine. The restaurant’s elegant décor, warm lighting and inviting ambience set the stage for what would be an undoubtedly exceptional dining experience.
We are greeted by AiR and Joon who make us feel extremely welcome. It’s that small gesture of friendliness and attention to detail that makes Mantra Thai a truly special place.
As we are shown to our table, AiR and Joon mention that we’re treated to their best table. A glance outside the window confirms this. Newcastle Quayside is our view for the night.
While perusing their Newcastle Restaurant Week Menu, the sound of The Prawn and Chicken Toast tempts me. The deep-fried toast, golden and crispy on the outside, reveals a savoury interior filled with the delectable goodness of minced prawn and chicken. Each bite is a delight, as the flavours meld seamlessly and complement each other beautifully. The dish is accompanied by a sweet chilli dipping sauce. This adds an extra layer of complexity and brings a sense of familiarity to the whole experience.
My companion for the night decides upon The Golden Parcels. A classic Thai appetizer of crispy deep-fried spring roll pastry wrapping, and it does not disappoint. At first glance, the presentation exudes a delightful aesthetic and the crunch of the golden parcels is music to the senses. It signals the perfect balance between a delicate outer layer and a flavourful filling within. It was a perfect soul-warming treat on a cold winter night.
Mantra Thai: Mains
A massive fan of sweet and sour dishes, I already know my choice for the main course. It’s Thai Style Sweet and Sour Chicken for me and, after a bit of deliberation, Lamb Massaman Curry for my companion.
While we are busy chatting, the chef skillfully stir-fries crispy strips of tender chicken breast in a sweet and sour sauce, creating a meal that strikes a perfect balance between textures and tastes. The addition of pineapples, onions, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and spring onions adds a refreshing and vibrant dimension to the plate. One that reminds me of the reasons why it’s always my go-to choice. The taste of sweet and sour is reminiscent of good old comfort food and this is exactly what the night called for.
A sneaky try of my companion’s choice, Lamb Massaman Curry proves that if there is a definition of perfection – this is it. The chef slow-cooks the tender cuts of lamb to perfection, accompanying them with potatoes and onions in a rich massaman curry sauce. The aromatic blend of turmeric, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, chillies, and coconut milk creates a comforting and flavourful curry, one that showcases the depth and complexity of Thai cuisine, earning Mantra Thai additional praise.
A Quick Dessert
The portion sizes at Mantra Thai are rather generous, so after finishing our two courses we are wined, dined, and taken care of. However, after a lot of convincing from AiR and Joon (we had to be asked once), we decide that there’s always a bit of room for dessert. Especially, when it sounds that good. On the menu: Mango Mouse!
As soon as we take our first spoonful, we know we made the right decision in opting for it. It’s the crowning jewel of an already exceptional dining experience. As the spoon glides through the velvety layers, the fragrance of ripe mangoes wafts through the air, instantly awakening the senses and cleansing the palate. It’s the perfect culmination of our night at Mantra Thai.
A Memorable Evening
Safe to say, the outstanding attentiveness and genuine friendliness of the staff, particularly AiR and Joon, leaves an indelible mark on our dining experience. From the very beginning of our dining experience, they ensure we feel like welcome guests in their home.
The attentive service extends beyond the culinary aspect, creating an atmosphere that feels like dining in the company of friends. AiR and Joon’s ability to strike the perfect balance between professionalism and familiarity makes us feel at ease, making this an extremely warm experience amid this cold winter month.
We’re sure we’ll be back time and time again, so no goodbye, only a ‘see you later’!
Mantra Thai is taking part in Newcastle Restaurant Week, offering two courses for £20, see the menu here.