9 Montpellier Terrace crack
In these hard times of recession it’s good to see a new restaurant opening in Cheltenham, especially if that new restaurant is so special that it is difficult to find fault with. The new Thai Brasserie opened just before Christmas and Sai Fon and her staff have already ensured that this is one of the best restaurants of its type in town.
To start with, the commanding location of the Brasserie and the building itself make it something exceptional. It stands at the Rotunda, facing down towards the Promenade in what used to be a very smart chemist’s and, until recently, an Indian restaurant.
We were welcomed by Nithipat, known to his friends as Pat, and shown to our table in what was already a busy midweek evening. I always think that, to a certain extent, you can judge a restaurant by its house wine so we tried a couple of reds; the South African Dudley’s Stone Cabernet Shiraz and the Cuvée de la Baume from the Pays de Gard. The cabernet shiraz was one of the best house wines I had in a long time so I knew we were going to have a really good night.
We tried three starters. Again, you can usually judge a Thai restaurant by its Chicken Satay and this one certainly passed the test. The Thai Fish Cakes with a crushed peanut and sweet chilli sauce were delicate and tasty and the Vegetable Tempura served with a sweet and sour plum sauce was light and crispy. There is also a good selection of soups and salads available.
I wanted to know which dishes the Thai Brasserie prided itself on and Pat recommended the Salmon Choo Chi. The grilled salmon arrived topped with a thick, sweet tasting, red curry leaf sauce with coconut milk, bell peppers and a touch of kaffir lime leaves. The fish was very well cooked, which I liked, and so avoided the fattiness you sometimes get with salmon. I had some coconut rice to go with it.
My companion chose the Pla Pao; a whole sea bass stuffed with an aromatic selection of Thai herbs grilled over charcoal and served with a tangy chilli sauce. This was cooked to perfection, beautifully presented and succulent. She had the Thai noodles with it, which were superb. One thing we liked was that the fish was served on a separate plate so you weren’t burdened with all the debris that is left from eating a whole fish. Only a little thing, but those are the ones that count.
Most of the desserts were all genuine, made on the premises Thai specialities. This makes a welcome change from the exotic sounding but factory made concoctions you often find in even good restaurants these days. I couldn’t resist the Fried Ice Cream. ‘How’ I hear you ask, ‘do they fry ice cream?’ Which is just what I wanted to know. It turns out it’s wrapped in batter, covered in breadcrumbs and popped in the deep fryer. It was delicious and quite a novelty. We also tried the excellent Thai Pancakes flavoured with pandan leaf and served with organic ice cream.
All in all we spent a very satisfying evening with fine food, efficient and friendly service and comfortable surroundings. Although the ground floor is often full, there’s plenty more space upstairs. Highly recommended.