£19.50 for a three-course meal in central London, including a glass of wine or soft drink is pretty good. Plus it was served quickly – I am not a fan of being kept waiting (a) in between courses and (b) for my food in the first place. So, Nipa Thai in the Lancaster London hotel next to Lancaster Gate Tube gets the thumbs up from me.
It’s a lovely, beautifully-lit (important), panelled room on the first floor of the hotel overlooking Hyde Park (and being on the first floor you actually get a view – whereas their Island Grill restaurant (which I have reviewed before) is on the ground floor and all I saw was traffic on the busy road outside.
The all-female kitchen staff (it just happened that way, apparently) rustled up two thali-style trays for me and my dining companion (a bit like Japanese Bento boxes). You get a starter, two mains, rice and carved exotic fruit for pud all at the same time. There’s also a veggie option. Love the idea – and the execution. Mine included mini crab spring rolls, red chicken curry with coconut and lime leaves, stir-fried pork with pepper plus jasmine rice. They didn’t hold back on the chilli, but that was a good thing.
The husband had menu A: fried prawn dumplings, chicken and Thai aubergine (those little, pale green aubergines) green coconut curry, beef with onions, mushrooms and oyster sauce plus jasmine rice. And the fruit, which included dragon fruit, papaya, pineapple and grapes – very refreshing after all that spice. He then pronounced on the wines:
“And I thought there were no new wines for me to try,” he exclaimed when he spotted Thai wine from the Monsoon Valley (£7/175ml glass) on offer (this is what you get for your free glass of wine, included in the price). The Thai Shiraz was “plummy, flat, uncomplicated but earns you bragging rights at the wine society.” He also had an Italian Soave (white, £8.50/175ml glass). “The main wine list is very good: everything (except a handful of champagnes) by the glass, which is almost unheard of. Seven champagnes including Bollinger and vintage Dom Perignon. A good selection of whites and reds, mainly from France and Italy. A sprinkling of New World (well, one). For a Thai restaurant, it’s good. For a hotel, it’s good.”
Extras included prawn crackers with a hottish sweet chilli sauce and an amuse bouche of coconut, lemon and some other stuff I didn’t catch. It was tangy and delicious though, and whetted my appetite for what was to come.
The Nipa Thai Thai Khantok £19.50 menu is available 5–7pm daily: it’s ideal as a pre-theatre menu. The West End is a 45-minute walk away by my reckoning – I actually walked to the restaurant from Tottenham Court Road and it took me an hour (I was shopping though). It’s also good if you simply like to eat early ( if you’re American, or dining with children who don’t mind chilli).
Nipa Thai Restaurant, Lancaster Terrace, London, W2 2TY.
T: 020 7551 6039 [email protected]
Opening hours: Mon–Sun: 5.00–10.30pm.