JIM THOMPSON'S THAI RESTAURANT/BAR
408 Upper Richmond Rd
Putney SW15 6JP
Telephone: 020 8788 3737
Nearest Tube: East Putney
Average price per person: £20-25 (entrees, main, dessert and drink)
The last month has swooshed us by at a frenetic pace. Many life changes have overwhelmed us – a challenging 10 mile run, the acquisition of a supercharged Cooper S, a holiday abroad, the end of one job and the start of another, a proposal (yes the Prince Consort and myself are engaged!) and the following wedding arrangements. So forgive us for neglecting the maintenance of our little baby here.
After the gym, we headed to The Ship for another slap-up meal. Yes I know it’s an exercise in conducting an anti-thesis to the concept of a good work-out. I did protest but was over-ruled. Nevertheless. The idle afternoon was spent lounging at The Larrick pub in Fulham watching the Men’s Wimbledon final on the two large projector screens they had there. If there ever was an unsatisfying match between the great titan Federer and hard-serving Roddick – this was it. This Wimbledon final was done and dusted in three sets - with hardly a whimper. It seemed that the display of emotion by Federer was just that – a display for the cameras. The win came easy to him and he expected it. We watched the match complete with a resplendent bottle of champers and the obligatory bowl of strawberries and cream. If only we were watching the nail-biting, bum-on-edge match of Venus versus Davenport. Sigh.
After a few games of pool at Durrell’s pub in Fulham (now serving the ultra-refreshing Kronenberg Blanc on tap) we wanted a simple meal. A salad maybe. Definitely not too heavy on the calories and easy on the wallet. We decided on Jim Thompson’s Thai restaurant/pub – a place we’ve always meant to venture to, but never quite made it.
We were pleasantly astounded as soon as we walked through the entrance. It became abundantly clear that this was no ordinary local pub. A quick search on the trusty web surprised me even more. We had to be either completely unobservant (or stupid) or wandering aimlessly in the Amazon rainforest for the last few years. Jim Thompson’s asian influenced eateries are everywhere. Putney, Wimbledon, Fulham, Marylebone, Brighton, Surrey, Gloucestershire, Kent – apparently twelve in all, gosh. Jim Thompson was a charismatic American who was renowned for his wit, charm, entrepreneurial skills, lavish hospitality, infectious personality and his collection of Thai silks and artefacts. All establishments are manned by only Thai chefs and waiting staff (very important in maintaining authenticity).
The pub is small, cosy and intimate with lots of earthy wooden undertones. The restaurant occupies another section of the establishment to the left. Immediately your senses are overwhelmed with the number of fascinating Oriental artefacts they have on display. All items are for sale and signs everywhere proclaim that haggling is encouraged. Buddha statuettes, towering dragons, gongs, masks, pottery, paintings and freizes. Upon entering the restaurant ‘Thai Pad’, we were immediately struck by the romantic bewitching airy nature of the place. Stone floors, wicker furniture, tables supported by giant stone fingers, walls adorned with beautiful Oriental artefacts. Our table was set with a large stone frog used as a candle holder. The menu itself was an art-piece in itself. Wooden bamboo like construction. It became apparent early that this plave is a perfect setting for an amorous, fiery date.
The menu covered mainly Thai delicacies, but also included a random Malaysian or Chinese dish. All walks of edible domestic and wildlife are represented fairly. Starters include all the usual suspects – chicken satay, honey-roast pork ribs, sesame prawn toast, spring rolls, Thai fish cakes, crispy aromatic duck….yawn, stop me, I’m boring myself. Starters range from £4.50 to £9.95. The most intriguing was the chargrilled crocodile with a spicy peanut sauce. To be tried on another occasion.
As I mentioned before, we weren’t at all hungry and were just out for a snack. I tried the crispy duck salad (£8.95). The duck, dressed in ginger and soy was succulent, lean and bountiful in their portions. It was accompanied by an egg noodle salad, the proportions of which was quite meagre. Enough for me on this particular day, but not enough to make a fulfilling meal on any other.
The Man had a similar dish with an intriguing name – “Tiger Cry” (£8.95). Tender, succulent, well-marinated strips of sirloin steak dripped with a fresh mint, coriander and lime dressing. A winner dish out of the lot we had chosen. Very cleansing and refreshing for the soul. Even The Man’s soul – spotless clean, needs a spring clean every now and again.
The Other Hag opted for the sea spiced aubergines with Shanghai noodles (£6.50). This was also a gorgeous dish but extremely heavy and oily. A feature of Shanghainese food – to stack on those extra pounds of lard to survive those harsh Shanghainese winters. The noodles are white, round and thick – similar to Japanese udon. The deep-fried aubergines were divine – velvety, searing hot melt in your mouth bite-sized pieces.
The Prince Consort had the most unsatisfactory dish, but I have to say to him – “I told ya so”. He opted for the curry Laksa. From my experience, it’s hard enough to get a decent Laksa at authentic Malaysian joints, let alone fusion restaurants – so why try? You’re only setting yourself up for disappointment of gargantuan proportions. The Laska came in the smallest bowl ever. I think they sell coffees in larger vessels in Starbucks. Tiger prawns, chicken and vermicelli noodles swam in their tiny hot-tub of the too sweet and coconutty soup broth. Nothing close to the original.
Around the back they have a quaint intimate beer garden with a few tables supported by large god-like Thai hands. Perfect surroundings for those chill-out summery evening enjoying a pint. On Tuesday they offer a stir-fry and a pint for £5.95, Wednesdays a curry and a pint for £5.95 and on Thursday from 9pm there’s quiz night.
A great place to go to for a chow-down and drink with friends or even a romantic rendezvous for two. It’s all good. The food here can be a bit hit and miss, but the ambience more than makes up for it. Only wish we had found this place earlier and can’t wait to try out their cocktails. See ya there on quiz night!
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