Restaurant Review: Thai Square, Shaftesbury Avenue, London

The Weeping Tiger wasn't the only thing weeping.

When the concierge of a highly respected hotel recommended Thai Square in Shaftesbury Avenue for dinner during a stay in Covent Garden, I was looking forward to a wonderful dining experience. 

Thai Square’s website rhapsodises its cuisine and decor. And a reassuring statement from their CEO, Haim Danous, declares: “Our ingredients are hand-selected and flown in direct from Thailand every day. Our Thai chefs present a meticulous selection of more than 1,000 authentic Thai dishes, with uniquely fresh flavours and a kick from chillies”.

Ambience

So it was a little disappointing when walking into the restaurant that it seemed nothing more than a foyer. Dingy lighting, simple wood tables and little decor to speak of. This was as far away from cosy as, say, London is to Timbuktu.

At the back of the foyer were colourful doors. There seemed to be fun and music on the other side. We thought perhaps the real restaurant was to be found on the other side of them. It turns out it was a separate club.

Were we in the twilight zone? This restaurant came recommended and has received accolades dating as far back as 2016.

My partner and I weighed up our options. Shall we stay in an environment that wasn’t inviting or leave? Rereading a notice about their accolades in the doorway, we surmised that this is one of those restaurants whose food was better than its look. The food, we concluded, must be exceptional.

We sat at our table. We moved a chair to be closer to each other and in a flurry of shock and horror the waiter was quick “Not allowed, others will mind”. A quick straw poll, and no one did. Calm was restored.

Menus came, we chose and managed to catch the eye of one of the waiters – they were a sprightly black-clad team slip-sliding across the foyer floor at ninja speed.

The Food

We ordered the Gold set menu. This started with chicken soup. It was okay, a bit too oily for my taste. My partner downed his.

For the second course, the waiter seemed happy to exchange the shrimps for something else (I have an allergy). This turned out to be a couple more spring rolls. Perhaps something got lost in translation. But hey, actually, I like spring rolls.

On the bright side, the beer was cold. 

Then the main course. Duck with cashew nuts and a dish called Weeping Tiger. I am a fan of this Northeastern Thai dish cooked from a brisket of beef. But one bite, and it wasn’t just the tiger that was weeping.

The beef was tough when it should have been soft, dark when it should have been pink and dry when it should have been juicy. The duck was gourmet, by comparison, but still only rated as “mediocre” by my partner. The rice was edible, and the noodles, well, were noodles.

On the bright side, the beer was cold. 

So after just a couple of bites, we decided to leave. Shockingly they didn’t acknowledge the fact that we hardly touched the dinner. However, they did ask if we wanted a doggie bag. We said no, we couldn’t eat it. So we paid the bill and left.

Verdict: This meal cost £100 for the two of us (included a couple of Chang beers and a Mai Tai cocktail). Frankly, I would have been better off spending that money on a pair of walking shoes to hotfoot it out of that restaurant.

HOWEVER: this could have been a one-off bad night. I have emailed the restaurant for  comment. If I get an answer I will update this review.