Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to get invited to the official launch night of new Newcastle Thai restaurant, Chaophraya, in the newly refurbished Food Quarter of Eldon Square. I am a huge fan of Thai food and was dying to get a look out at the Monument from Chaophraya’s enviable roof terrace, so of course I jumped at the chance. I had only heard good things since the restaurant opened just before Christmas, but did my experience live up to the hype?
When we arrived, the restaurant was really buzzing, with a lively atmosphere. The decor is exactly as you would expect, with servers wearing traditional Thai clothing and statues of Buddha, elephants and lotus flowers all around. We were seated close to the roof terrace, so I could just about see that incredible view from my seat, but to start I was just interested in a cocktail and some food.
Chaophraya has a cocktail and wine list as long as my arm and they all look delicious. I plumped for a fruity cocktail, with pomegranate seeds and Andrew had a beer. While we waited, we took a look at the menu and our waitress answered any questions we had, recommending some choices along the way. We also munched our way through a whole bowl of crunchy, spicy prawn crackers served with a perfect sweet chilli sauce. Definitely recommend!
Service was a little bit slow on the drinks side and our drinks often didn’t arrive together. There seems to be one central bar that each server takes their orders to, then the bar staff bring to your table. I think this makes the whole process a bit slower than if each server was in charge of serving their own drinks.
The entire menu is really extensive and included a lovely long list of Thai favourites to start, including fish cakes, spare ribs, soups and spring rolls. We chose the Maeklong Platter, which at £9.50 a head wasn’t cheap, but would give us a good taste of most of the starters on offer.
Since Andrew is allergic to nuts, we substituted the chicken satay for chicken tacos, which the kitchen were happy to oblige with.
Unfortunately, we did experience a few teething problems with service on the night – it took about 40 minutes for our starters to arrive, with the waitress having to come over and check whether we had been served yet. Then when our platter did arrive, although the satay had been substituted, there was peanut sauce on the tray. This naturally made us a little bit cautious about the rest of the platter, so I taste tested everything before Andrew to check!
Once it finally arrived, the food itself was delicious – the tacos being a real stand out. Soft tortillas, with a really tasty filling meant they were top of my starter list.
Onto the mains. I chose the Palm Sugar and Chilli Glazed Chicken (£16), coconut rice (£3.80) and vegetables (£4.50) while Andrew had Weeping Tiger Sirloin Steak (£19) with noodles (£3.50).
Andrew said his steak was one of the nicest he has ever had and it certainly looked well-cooked, juicy and full of flavour. Together with the noodles, it made a really tasty, filling meal.
My chicken was another really generous portion including breast meat and meat on the bone. It was served with an asian salad, which I’m not a huge fan of, so the addition of the rice and vegetables was much needed. The flavours were good – particularly the coconut rice – but my chicken was a bit dry. It was served with a very small pot of sweet chilli sauce, but I had that with the prawn crackers and the starter so I was fancying something a bit different by now.
After a huge bowl of prawn crackers, a platter of starters and a filling main, it was pretty surprising that we could even fit in a dessert, but for the purposes of a well-rounded review, we squeezed one in!
Andrew went for the Chocolate Bombe (£7.50), with meringue, popcorn pieces and whiskey ice cream. It looked amazing and I always love watching a bombe melt under hot caramel sauce – it never gets old! Unfortunately, the ice cream really let the dessert down because it tasted SO strongly of whiskey, Andrew didn’t even manage to finish it. And he is a BIG fan of booze. Let’s face it, it’s not often that booze and alcohol makes a dessert worse!
My dessert was the White Chocolate Box (£7.50), a white chocolate mousse served with a macaron, meringue pieces and fresh fruit. It was light and flavoursome, the perfect round off to my meal. I would definitely recommend it if you like white chocolate.
Honouring the Buddha
In our invite was a square of gold leaf. I was totally intrigued by what we would have to do with it on the evening and after dinner we were invited to stick our square of gold leaf onto the huge Buddha statue that stands at the restaurant entrance.
I absolutely loved this ritual – we were talked through the Buddhist symbology and encouraged to apply our gold leaf to the part of the Buddha body that we were suffering with in our own bodies. I went for the head because I’ve been feeling stressed and depressed recently.
So that was our experience of Chaophraya Newcastle. In summary, I think our meal was blighted by a few service teething problems. On the whole, the food was delicious and you would kind of expect it to be at those prices. I would suggest Chaophraya for a special meal out – graduation, family birthday, date night – but not really a quick after work bite with friends.
Have you been to Chaophraya Newcastle?
Mine and Andrew’s meal and drinks were provided free of charge, but all my opinions about them are 100% my own.
Pin now, read later!