“ 3-5 Guildford Crescent, Churchill Way, Cardiff. CF10 2HJ Tel: 029 2038 7404 „
As a big fan of Thai food and having visited Thailand a few times I had high expectations of Thai House. The restaurant itself is lovely - large, nicely decorated and with a good atmosphere. DO make sure that you book a table in the main building. They have an annex which looks like a portacabin with tables touching each other and zero ambience.
As a vegetarian, I expect most restaurants to appreciate that this does not involve eating fish. I was very disappointed to have a Thai vegetarian salad, sent back instantly as it tasted of scampi fries roasted in fish oil and laced with haddock. The main course (tofu curry) was fine, but consisted of very little apart from said Tofu (very few vegetables in sight!) and was overtly salty. My friend enjoyed a nice prawn dish but also noted that it consisted of very little apart from prawns.
Desserts were much better - with home made Thai dishes as opposed to the deep fried / bought in nonsense served in other establishments. However, if you want a fine Thai meal in Cardiff, I would suggest THAI THAI on Four Elms Road. This place did not live up to my expectations despite very fine service and a lovely building.
Recently Mr Tart and myself headed to Cardiff to see Michael McIntyre in the International Arena. We had planned to use one of Martin Moneysavingexpert's two for one deals at a restaurant before the show but due to traffic and parking issues we got there late. Cardiff has changed a lot recently and despite being a former local I couldn't work out how to get to the restaurants that we wanted as they had planted a massive multi-story where the road used to be. We didn't have enough time to find another route to it so we headed for the nearest restaurant that could seat us and this happened to be the Thai House.
The Thai House is located at 3-5 Guildford Crescent in Cardiff city centre. There is a car park opposite the restaurant which you access from Bridge Street. There is some on street parking outside the restaurant as well but I'm not sure of the parking rules for these spaces.
We were running late and were grateful that we'd found somewhere to eat without resorting to the evil McD's. We had tried the Madeira Restaurant next door first but there was a long wait there (which was a shame because I've been there before and it's really nice). We didn't even look at the menu before we went in to the Thai House, hunger was taking over where our brains used to be!
The restaurant looks quite traditional. There are lots of plants and lots of bamboo. The waiters and waitresses were all dressed in beautiful silk Thai clothes. All of the waiters, waitresses and cooks are all Thai which makes you feel like you are getting an authentic experience.
The waiter did offer to take our coats, we kept ours but it's nice to know that they had coat storage should you want it. The waiter asked what drinks we wanted before we had any menus or wine lists so I ordered my standard lemonade and Mr Tart asked for some tap water and the menu so he could see a wine list. The drinks came first and then the menus came.
We ordered a starter to share. This was the Ruam Mit. When it came it was a big platter with spring rolls, chicken wings, mushroom toasts, chicken and beef skewers and toast. There were three sauces: satay; sweet chilli and onion and cucumber relish. The spring rolls were really tasty but they were a little spicy (I really don't do spicy food - literally the remotest hint of spice and I'll know about it!). The chicken wings were tasty but they weren't really wings I didn't think, they looked like mashed up chicken encased in skin. The mushroom toasts were very nice, the toast was crunchy and the mushrooms were mixed with spring onions and were tasty. The chicken and beef skewers were nice when dipped in the satay although the beef was a little chewy. I didn't really see the point of the plain toast as it seemed a strange thing to dip into satay or sweet chilli (although you wouldn't have caught me dipping anything into the sweet chilli!). I did really enjoy this starter but the price annoyed me. It was £15.95 and it was just not worth this money.
For the main course I ordered the Ner Pat Namman Hoi which was beef, Thai mushrooms and Welsh leeks cooked in oyster sauce. I will say that this dish was really delicious. The beef was tasty and the mushrooms and leeks went really well with it. The sauce was also really good. I had the noodles to go with the dish and they were very nice as well. Mr Tart had the Gang Kio Warn Gai which was a hot green chicken curry and also had the rice to go with it. He said that the curry was really good, but I couldn't comment as the spice aversion keeping me well away!
We finished our food quite quickly as we were in a rush to make sure we got to Michael McIntyre. Once we'd finished we asked for the bill but went up to the bar to pay (which is what everyone seemed to be doing so I'm not sure if you can pay at the table). Here was the shocking part of the evening. Our meal came to £50 with the tip and a glass of white for Mr Tart. £50!!! Are you having a laugh! This really is the major problem that I had with this restaurant. The problem was not helped by the fact that we had been expecting to get a nice two for one deal and pay maybe £15 for the both of us but still! We were only in the restaurant for 45 minutes (again, admittedly due to our being late and completely our fault) but again, still! What really annoyed me was that none of the meals came with rice or noodles and you had to order these separately at the cost of £2.50 each. To be honest, the food was nice, but it wasn't £50 nice. It was standard Thai food and nothing particularly stood out as being better than you would get in a Thai chain. I often go to a really nice Thai restaurant in Bath and it's a lot cheaper and they serve rice or noodles with the dishes that should come with them as standard (like curry).
The restaurant's toilets were very clean and were generally nice. The service in the restaurant was really good. They were very attentive. The waitress that brought our starter explained what everything was. When a waiter brought our clean plates for the main course he held them with spoons to place them on the table so that they weren't touched by hands which I thought was a nice touch.
The menu was quite extensive. There are fish, pork, game, chicken, beef and lamb dishes. They also have quite a few vegetarian dishes. None of the dishes come with rice or noodles. The portions were pretty big and if I was going back I would only order one portion of rice between us (just as it makes me so mad to pay for two!!). There are also a selection of set menus for two which give a selection of the food but one of them is £70! There were a lots of desserts, mainly made with fruit like banana fritters and mango served with sticky rice and coconut cream. I'm not really big on these type of desserts (I'm more of an apple crumble girl) but at £6.25 each they wouldn't have got a look in anyway.
Another problem with the food (which was partly caused by us eating so quickly as we were in a rush) was that it was so rich that it caused me to have acid reflux on the way home. I've never had this before and trust me, this was not the first time I've eaten a lot in a short space of time (I always eat quickly as I hate cold food). I know this wasn't really the restaurant's fault but it just topped off the evening in a bad way.
The Thai House's website claims that in 2008 the Times said that it was 'one of the best Thai restaurants in the UK' and that Harden's Guide of 2009 said that it was 'one of Cardiff's very best restaurants'. I beg to differ. I haven't eaten extensively in Thai restaurants but have had food that has been just as good and sometimes better at more reasonable Thai restaurants. I've also frequented a good number of Cardiff restaurants and if this is now one of the best I don't hold out much hope for my beloved city! Ok so maybe I'm being harsh. There are lots of good points about this restaurant. The atmosphere was lovely and the décor was good. The service was excellent and attentive. The food was tasty and clearly all freshly prepared. However, the prices were just ridiculous for the food that we had. The quality of the food just didn't justify that price. I certainly wouldn't return to the restaurant. However, I would say that the menu is extensive (more so than most restaurants) and it is very authentically Thai so I think if you had more time it would be a more enjoyable experience. Despite some scathing words (they all just came tumbling out when I started writing!) I'm awarding three stars for some good food and good service, but the two get knocked off for the price and some of the food not being quite up to scratch.