I work in a big office…and, amidst the seemingly consistent stream of notifications pertaining to birthday cards, leaving drinks, celebratory collections and co-worker catch-ups, an email caught my eye which detailed a night-out at Thai Edge. Now, as an establishment which has featured (almost daily) as part of my commute to the source of my new-found addiction, (as per my previous post), it had inadvertently, manoeuvred itself to the top of my to-do list – this particular email factoring as the final push towards booking a table whereby I guiltily shunned its originator in order to visit that very night with a small group of friends…
Date and Time: Monday 14th May 2012, 18:30
Name of Establishment: Thai Edge*
Location: Unit 4 Broad Quay, Bristol
Reason for Visit: A previously unexplored eatery at the pole position of my ‘to-do’ list...
Reflecting its name sake, Thai Edge is situated at the cusp of Bristol’s city centre; cornering Broad Quay and within crawling distance of the hustle and bustle of Queens Square. With crisp lines, white linen and contrasting violet hues within its refreshingly spacious interior, Thai Edge eschews the chaotic chintz which can so often be associated with a restaurant of this type in favour of a minimalistic approach whereby its décor has been tastefully arranged. Here, the odd bronze figurine or exotic flower arrangement, as well as the subtly-pitched Thai-inspired soundtrack, hints at a theme rather than forcing it upon your person! Instead, effectively channelling an air of sophistication, its rather more stylish features – including the likes of the ball-shaped, latticed light-fittings overhead and the use of a dedicated accent colour – sets a distinct aura of calm; the tranquil trickle emanating from the water feature at the forefront of the restaurant setting a precedent for the space beyond. Furthermore, floor-to-ceiling windows facilitate a light and airy ambiance, not to mention creating a panoramic viewpoint from wherever you happen to be sat. We did suffer the downside of this however whereby allowing for direct sunlight to microwave its clientèle, proves really rather uncomfortable and, after squinting at each other from across the table for an entire five-minute period, our party opted to move to a shadier spot, (which incidentally led to a second basket of complimentary crackers: Win!) Whilst documenting the negatives, I feel that it’s fitting to mention our servers for the evening who, although smartly attired (in purple dress) and unquestionably efficient, were particularly matter-of-fact in regards to our dining occasion; failing upon all accounts to engage with the group and instead, remaining nonchalant even in the face of a little attempted banter. I also wasn't sure whether I liked being encouraged to order my food using the corresponding number reference from the menu - after all, surely it would be preferable to learn a little in regards to the origin of the fare rather than to offhandedly opt for an M4 or S5?!
That said, my S5, or Chicken Satay to put it less crudely, was simply delicious. The meat all-but falling off its skewer and the sweet, salt and spice of the coarsely finished peanut dipping sauce, perfectly balanced – in fact, so not to waste a single mouthful, I felt compelled to finish it with a spoon! Yes, they were a long time coming but it was unanimously agreed that our starters were worth the wait; others, who ordered the likes of the Poh Pia (spring rolls filled with vermicelli and white cabbage) and See Krong Mou Yang, (seasoned spare ribs with a sweet chilli glaze) reporting that they particularly hit the spot; something which became obvious given the satisfied oohs and ahhs that reverberated around the table. That said, our spirits became somewhat quashed with another excruciating wait before our main courses made an entrance and yet, with commendable presentation all round, in addition to the sizeable sharer of steamed Thai jasmine rice that had been served 'as standard', all was quickly forgiven. I had opted for the Panang curry; a beautifully flavoursome dish with an intricate composition – the sweet, earthy notes of the coconut cream complimented with basil and punctuated with the kick of fresh red chilli. The distinctive zing of lime leaf danced upon the palate and I was pleased to find that the chicken content had been generously portioned and seemed of an ample quality; proving both tender and juicy. No complaints from my dining companions either – the Best Foodie Friend (BFF) for instance, reporting that the Pad Prew Waan which, with a pork base, constituted a stir-fry of sweet and sour sauce, fresh cucumber, tomato, onion, peppers and pineapple, comprised a colourful medley of tastes and textures that was altogether well received.
We chose not to indulge in desserts on this occasion but it was duly noted that the selection is dominated somewhat by those rather unappealing ‘bought-in’ creations whereby ice cream factors as the primary ingredient. That said, the aptly-named 'Thai Specialities' section held greater appeal; the Tago and Woon Ka Ti (£4.50) a definite talking point given their unusual content. Here, we learned that Tago is essentially a coconut cream dessert with taro, sweetcorn and sago wrapped within a pandanus leaf and Woon Ka Ti consists of coconut jelly cubes topped with a water chestnut preserve – intriguing yes, but as appealing as the lure of the fro-yo frenzy taking place next door?...Not so much! Drinks included all the usual suspects plus a couple of Thai Beers; namely Chang and Singha; the latter described as the lighter, 'girlier' of the two by one of my dining companions! Wine is predominantly offered in 250ml measures and, at £5.25 a glass, it was considered a little too heavy (both in terms of its price tag and alcohol content) to warrant a mid-week treat! That said, we did later discover that smaller glasses are available upon request – something which may have proved rather more difficult to resist a little earlier in the proceedings.
In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Thai Edge; the contemporary twist on a classic genre and the thoughtful serenity of the space overall proving the perfect backdrop to a relaxed nosh-up and natter with friends; a notion which clearly extended beyond our party given the consistent buzz from what had become a rather well attended evening’s cover. However, I felt that whilst its cuisine proved both wholesome and well-executed, as well as fantastic value for money (the pre-theatre menu denoting two courses for just £9.95), this is a four-part franchise that seems to adopt the ethos of 'feeding the masses' whereby getting people through the door seems of greater importance than a focus on passion for service. I mean, beyond the brief explanation of traditional Thai cookery that is provided upon the inside cover of the menu, there is little to instigate an understanding and appreciation in regards to the nature of fare – plus, to outwardly display a degree of indifference for the dishes delivered to the customer (whereby at one point our server seemed almost afraid to exert an opinion, or recommendation if you will), is surely not a good method of securing return-visits; arguably, nor will it expedite the demand for Thai cuisine. Consequently, I’d suggest that expressing a degree of pride in terms of the gastronomical skill-set accountable for dishes which, for me, demonstrated exceptional balance, variety and detail, is in fact the only thing standing in the way of bestowing this establishment with a true sense of the ‘edge’!
And now for the second opinion...
The BFF gave Thai Edge a rating of 7/10 and in three words, described the experience as; 'tasty but slow'.