Reviews

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THAI RESTAURANTS

Katie Barrett – Waitrose Food Illustrated

 

I’ve only been to Hertford twice and both times I’ve eaten at Baan Thitiya, a smart Thai restaurant

arranged over two floors and decked out in understated Thai style. On both my visits, all the rooms

have been full of contented-looking diners.

 

My most recent meal here involved eight of us piling in after an evening in the pub. This, I reckon,

is the best way with this type of food: the fact that the booze has already been flowing means that people

tend to order too much, while the large number of diners means you can try things you wouldn’t order

for yourself. We chose a couple of bottles of Kim Crawford Dry Riesling, a winner on our previous visit, and

then opted for ‘Golden Pleasures’ (enough for two). This featured superior chicken satay, won tons, spring rolls and prawn toast (on French bread with coriander). We backed these up with more prawn toast, prawn and crab dim sum and tom yum hed (hot and sour lemon grass soup.

 

Main courses arrived amid a flurry of excitement, allowing the locals in our group to immediately ring-fence the tamarind duck and once I managed to grab a little I realised why: sweet and savoury and incredibly delicious, it’s really quite special. Other stand-out dishes included the pad thalay (green lip mussels, crab, squid and prawns in a punchy chilli sauce and pla rad prik (fried fish with hot chilli and garlic sauce. Rice is served in cute baskets, and the coconut version is good enough to eat unadorned.

 

My third visit to Hertford is sure to include another trip to Baan Thitiya. This time, though, I’m determined to have a plate of tamarind duck all to myself.

THAI-LY DELIGHTFUL

Aaron Gransby finds lots to praise...

 

Baan Thitiya was the first restaurant in Hertford I visited when we were setting up Axis Magazine

so it is high time we featured it properly.

 

Thai restaurants have become more popular in recent years and they tend to fall into two distinct

categories – pubs which happen to offer Thai food and traditional restaurants.

 

Both, as you might expect, can vary in quality – one pub that never disappoints is the Cock and

Dragon at Cockfosters – while of the restaurants I can happily recommend Baan Thitiya in

St. Andrew Street as the best locally.

 

The menu is fairly large and features traditional Thai favourites divided up into appetisers (meat and vegetarian), spicy Thai salads, soup, Thai curries, meat dishes, duck dishes, seafood dishes, plus noodles and rice.

 

But there are a few unusual touches thrown in. For example, the traditional mixed starter, known at Baan Thitiya as Golden Treasures, has among its offerings the usual prawn toast but it comes on French bread rather than on tiny squares. Combined with the satay chicken, crispy wanton and prawn tempura the Golden Treasures offers a good taste of the variation and quality that this restaurant is now renowned for.

 

We tried both chicken and lamb dishes. The old favourites of chicken with cashew nuts (Pad Med Mamuang Himmaparn) was excellent, but the real star was the Thai-Muslim Curry.

 

The menu ambitiously claims that it is “a favourite will all who try it!” and I can see why. The lamb genuinely melted in the mouth and featuring tender lamb strips cooked with potato in a rich creamy coconut sauce, it comes highly recommended.

 

Other dishes on the menu include Gaeng Kiew Wan – green curry cooked with coconut milk (with chicken, beef or prawns) and Drunken Duck – fried roasted duck with fresh chillies and Thai herbs.

 

Pleasingly, the service is also up to the mark. One of the worst mistakes a restaurant can make is to economise by not having enough waiting staff. Waiting politely may be something the English are supposed to be good at but waiting for your order to be taken when you are hungry or for the bill when you have decided the time has come to go home is no fun at all.

 

At Baan Thitiya the staff were excellent, always attentive, regularly scanning the side room in which we were eating (in many places you can be easily forgotten if you are not in the main room) and even bringing complimentary water while we were eating.

 

The meal for two, with starters, main courses, drinks and coffees, came perfectly reasonable price to pay for an enjoyable meal at a smart restaurant which even offers its menus presented in wooden menu-holders, a nice touch.

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