Restuarant review: Comforting and surprising - Thai Square St Albans is well worth a visit
- Credit: Thai Square
The first thing that struck me when walking into Thai Square in St Albans was the beautiful setting.
I'd driven past the crooked building in George Street countless times, but had never been inside before. As the exterior suggests, the restaurant is housed within a restored 15th century timber framed building, and was full of charm.
Having visited in the lead up to Christmas, a dazzling tree greeted us at the door and the decorations throughout were stunning - with nods to its oriental roots.
Looking at the menu, I won't deny that I was a bit overwhelmed - there was so much choice!
There were sections for soups, salads, house specials, stir-fried dishes, curry dishes, seafood, grilled dishes, noodles and rice - as well as a dedicated vegetarian menu. Everything was clearly labelled to help those with specific dietary requirements, and my partner (who is vegan) had no trouble determining what she could or couldn't eat - and there was plenty that she could.
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In terms of price, most starters were between £6.95 and £7.95, while for mains the cheapest was £9.95 and the most expensive £19.95.
So, on the recommendation of our waitress, we did what everyone should do when they can't decide on a starter... have a little bit of everything.
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Our mixed vegetarian starter for two (there's also a mixed starter with meat and fish options) had the classic vegetable spring rolls, but also vegetable tempura, corn cakes (my favourite) and salt and pepper tofu. And with the customary pot of sweet chilli sauce, of course.
All in all it was a plate of deep fried heaven - and well worth the indulgence.
For my main I had Pad Med Mamuang Tofu (stir fried tofu with cashew nuts, onions, carrot and spring onion, garnished with roasted chillies) with sticky rice, and my partner had Pad Priew Waan Tofu (stir fried tofu in home-made sweet and sour sauce, with pineapple, tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and spring onion) with coconut rice and a side of pak choi with 'chef's special sauce'.
In truth we shared all the dishes, and they really hit the spot. The sticky rice was the perfect match with the sweet and sour sauce tofu - a dish which, to me, typifies a fantastic Thai dining experience, one that both comforts and surprises - while the coconut rice was so refreshing.
But the star of the show was probably the chef's special sauce with the pak choi, so much so that it ended up accompanying the tofu dish I had chosen!
With the meal we picked one of three Thai wines on the menu - all international award winners from Monsoon Valley.
I must admit I know nothing about Thai wines, and would usually opt for a beer if in doubt. I'm glad I didn't, as our 2015 red shiraz at £28 (there's also white and rose options at the same price, also available by the glass) was delicious and lived up to the billing of being a 'perfect wine for Thai food'. If you can't be persuaded, though, there's still a plentiful selection from both the new world and old world winemakers. There's also a large cocktail menu, with non-alcholic options too.
Now usually I woudn't mention a trip to the toilet (!), but I have to on account of the fact it was only when going upstairs to where they are located that I realised how big the restaurant really is.
As well as a spacious downstairs and bar area, upstairs there were even more tables - including an area which looked perfect for large parties.
After returning to my seat, we were tempted into dessert (ranging from £4.50 to £7.95) despite being pretty full from our mains.
I opted for the St Albans Sundae (coconut ice cream with slices of young coconut meat and attap fruit - Thai palm seed - and garnished with cashew nuts), while my partner had mango and passion fruit sorbet.
Both desserts were light and refreshing, and the perfect way to end a lovely evening where both the service and food was great throughout.
- Thai Square St Albans, part of a chain of 14 restaurants situated in and near to London, is open Monday to Friday (12 noon to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm), Saturday (12 noon to 11pm) and Sunday/bank holidays (12 noon to 10.30pm) at 26A-28 George Street, St Albans, AL3 4ES. To book call 01727 893700 or visit thaisq.com/restaurants/st-albans - where you can find all the menus and the special offers available (such as early bird and healthy lunchbox deals).