“ Lower Road / Ashley / Market Drayton / TF9 4NL / Tel: 01630 672237. „
Thai food in the UK is something that I associate with London and other large cities. I certainly would not expect to find anywhere in the middle of Shropshire that not only provided Thai food, but authentic and tasty food to boot. However, exist it does. On a recent trip to visit my parents in Staffordshire, they took me to Pins Kitchen, one of their favourite restaurants and provider of the only Thai food that they have ever had. I wasnt really expecting much, but was very pleased and surprised at the quality of the food. Based in a country pub, the restaurant is run by the Thai wife of the pub owner.
Address: The Robin Hood
Tel: 01630 672237
Ashley can be reached by leaving the M6 at junction 14 and following the A5013 (Stafford Road) to Eccleshall and then the B5026 (Eccleshall Road) to Loggerheads. The turning for the pub is just before Loggerheads and is sign-posted. The pub is situated a few hundred metres from the main road along a narrow lane. From Market Drayton, follow the A53 to Loggerheads, then take the B5026 towards Eccleshall.
We arrived in the dark, but from what I could see of The Robin Hood pub, it looked exactly like a rural country pub with a reasonable amount of parking both beside and opposite the pub. Going in through the low front door, it is clear that the pub is a good couple of hundred years old. Over to the right-hand side is the bar area, which looked cosy and low-ceilinged, with a roaring fire. We went straight on to the restaurant itself, which again, is a low-ceilinged room with lots of black and white beams.
The best way to describe it is as an old ladys sitting room cluttered with bits and pieces that children and grandchildren have given her over the years. The décor is very befitting of a cottage sitting room; what makes it different is the amount of Thai souvenirs shoved in amongst a collection of very traditionally English plates and ornaments. This really does look bizarre. The quality of the Thai souvenirs is not high many of the bits and pieces I saw are available for virtually nothing. To make it even more tacky were the obviously fake flowers and tacky Christmas decorations flung everywhere. Despite this, it was a small and comfortable room and although I would never have decorated it in such a way, it wasnt awful. A fresh coat of paint would have been nice though.
The room is small, so although there were about 10-12 tables of varying sizes, there wasnt much room left between them. Luckily, the restaurant wasnt too busy the night we were there, so there wasnt anyone sitting on top of us.
The restaurant isnt good for wheelchair access. There are various steps in the way and the room is split-level.
There is a good choice of food on the menu. It is divided up into starters, curries and stir-fried dishes and there is a good variety of each. It is possible to choose whether you want the food hot, medium or not so hot; there are also a variety of non-spicy dishes for people like my mother, who cant bear spicy food. My mum had the sweet and sour chicken, which was tasty and very mild and packed full of fresh pineapple. She has previously had the Thai omelette, which is also non-spicy.
I chose Pins special (beef, chicken and prawns) with chillies, onions and peppers. I asked for the dish to be hot, which it certainly was, although not so much that I couldnt bear it. What impressed me was that it was obviously cooked from scratch, with no added sauces the spiciness came from the chillies themselves, which nicely invaded the rest of the dish. My mums partner had stir-fried beef with cashew nuts, which was quite similar to mine, but less spicy. This was also deliciously fresh. All portions were huge and apart from the free prawn crackers, we didnt need anything else to accompany the meal.
None of us tried the curries, but my mum had previously been with my brother-in-law who loved one of the varieties of red curry.
We all stuck to soft drinks, but obviously this is a pub, so you can pretty much order whatever you want. Many people arrived, had a drink in the pub first, then moved into the restaurant when it was time to eat.
I always groan when I see what looks like 15 year old girls in charge of serving in a restaurant. However, in this case, they were very professional, very polite and unobtrusive, whilst being available at all times. The food was served quickly and steaming hot.
The toilets were sadly out of date. The sinks and toilets were in a fetching coffee coloured plastic and the sinks were set into the wall 70s style. The ubiquitous condom/sanitary towel machine and the hand dryer looked ancient, but the latter, at least, worked fine. In a London restaurant, Id probably be a bit shocked; but for a pub in the middle of nowhere, they werent too bad. And after all, if a girls got to go, a girls got to go, brown plastic or not!
Very reasonable. Each main dish was about £9.95, which considering the size of the portions was pretty good. Rice and soft drinks on top, the total price came to about £42, which compared to London, is phenomenally cheap, particularly for a meal that was so well-cooked.
The restaurant is not open all day, every day. It is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 7pm onwards. Bookings are taken for other evenings, but only if the party is made up of at least 12 people. Booking is recommended. As one of the few decent restaurants around, it is very popular.
If youre in the area, then it is worth seeking out this restaurant. The food was excellent, even by London standards, and although the décor is seriously odd, it is worth it for the food and the value. Recommended, with just one star knocked off for the décor and lack of wheelchair access!