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There's more to Rugby than oddly shaped balls
Thai Orchid Restaurant (Rugby)
Member Name: koshkha
Thai Orchid Restaurant (Rugby)
Date: 05/03/08, updated on 05/03/08 (169 review reads)
Advantages: Great food, pleasant service
Disadvantages: A touch on the pricey side
When we found Rugby it looked like rather a nice place, and as we passed a place called the Thai Orchid my stomach spoke up for itself and demanded that we stop. We pulled off the main road, found a small car park and hurried round to see if we could get a table. It was quite early - about 6.30 pm - and we were the first customers of the evening. It was a Thursday night so that seemed a bit ominous; perhaps we were the only people in a 30 mile radius who didn't know that the restaurant served fried dog in salmonella sauce? Perhaps the locals knew something we didn't but I was hungry and Thai is my favourite style food so we were willing to give it a go.
The restaurant is really large - or perhaps being empty just exaggerated the size. It's beautifully decorated with carved scenes on the wall and lots of Thai nick-nacks all over the place - gold elephant heads, temple-style carvings and such like. The staff wear traditional Thai costume and appeared to be authentically Thai. We were taken to a table and left to consider the menus. There were several set menus but whilst I was hungry, I wasn't sure that I was THAT hungry or that we had quite so much time to spare. There were two standard mixed menus, the cheapest at £18.95 per head and the other at £22.00 per person. There was a seafood special set menu at a rather pricey £26.50 and finally a vegetarian set at £16.95. As I love seafood but am too mean to pay quite that much we decided to just pick a few dishes off the standard menu.
We polished off a basket of prawn crackers (the brownish ones rather than the Chinese-style white ones) with peanut and chilli dips and pondered the menu. Starters were easy because I love Tom Yum Soup so I ordered that with prawns for me and chicken for hubby. Then for main courses he chose a yellow chicken curry, I took a mixed seafood dish by the irresistible name of "Seafood Phad Prig Sod" (how could anyone NOT order something with such a name?) and finally we took a curried stir-fried bean curd dish to share. A portion of rice for each of us and the order was done and dusted.
Up to this point we were still the only people in the restaurant although as time passed a few others tables filled up. However by the time we left I think there were still more staff than diners. Our soups arrived and were delicious though I'd have to say they didn't look quite like Tom Yum I've had in any other restaurant. Rather than a dark reddish stock, this was a lighter yellow in colour and more cloudy in appearance. On the plus side though I didn't have to spend all my time picking out the inedible twigs that normally challenge anyone taking this soup. There were 3 or 4 large king prawns in my soup as well as lots of pieces of button mushroom and the balance of herbs was just right - plenty of Thai basil, a good spice kick but not so hot that you couldn't taste the different spices.
The main courses appeared at a suitable interval after the soups. First they brought three little clay candle burners to keep the dishes warm and then the dishes themselves arrived. The chicken curry was served in a chicken-shaped bowl complete with a head and wings - very cute; the mixed seafood dish arrived on a plate shaped - I was starting to see the trend at this point - like a fish; and the bean curd, disappointingly, was just on a normal oblong serving dish. Or maybe that's logically the shape of bean curd. We had large heated plates to eat from and whilst I didn't ask, I'd at least have liked the option of a bowl and chopsticks rather than the assumption of a plate and knife and fork.
I can't comment too much on the curry although I did sneak a tiny spoonful of the sauce and it was delicious - not too hot because my husband's a bit of a wimp - but full of complex flavours and textures. My seafood dish was fantastic. I think I'd feared a dish in which someone had thrown in a pack of mixed frozen seafood like you can buy in the freezer cabinet but I needn't have worried. The prawns were large and had their tails on; the mussels were wearing their shells; the fish had a light coating on it and had been fried and the squid had been scored and fried in large chewy pieces. The sauce itself was not that exciting so I was really pleased that we'd pigged out and gone for the curried bean curd to liven up the mix. Our usual Thai restaurant tends to be rather mean with their portions and you really do need three dishes between two but these were much more generous in size although we still left little more than the patterns on the plates.
The bill for the meal - a bowl of prawn crackers, two soups, three main courses, two rice and four diet cokes - came to £44.50, so no change from £50 after the tip was added. To be honest it was more than I'd normally want to pay for a 'stopping off on the way home' dinner but the quality was great and the price was pretty much what I'd expect for a Thai restaurant.
We liked the Thai Orchid and were intrigued to see what Rugby had to offer so we decided to go back a couple of days later and have a look around. What we'd seen of the place suggested it was worth another look and sure enough, we had a pleasant few hours checking out the town museum, the Rugby Museum (i.e. the sport not the town) and just wandering around looking in the shop windows and nosing about. We went back to the Thai Orchid and took a two course lunch deal which was priced at £8.95 per person but still managed to clock up £25 plus tip with just the addition of a couple of diet cokes each. They also offer a one course deal at £5.95 or an 'all you can eat' deal at £11.95 which we turned down because all I could eat (as a non meat-eater) was far too little to make it worth the bother.
So if you like Thai and find yourself in Rugby - or if another French lorry driver decides to exhibit his acrobatic skills at the end of the M6, forcing you to make a detour - you could do a lot worse than take a stop in Rugby and try out the Thai Orchid.
Thai Orchid Rugby
21 Sheep Street
Open every day serving lunch from noon to 2 pm and dinner from 6 pm to 10.30 pm.
Summary: Delicious food and a nice town for a visit