Has anyone told Busaba Eathai that the Thai generally don’t eat with chopsticks? We can’t help feeling that their routine supply on Busaba’s communal tables (forks and spoons appear when food arrives) spreads ignorance.
But there’s no doubt this quality chain attracts an international crowd; customers on our visit included Indian families, Italian babes and Essex builders. The spacious Bird Street and smaller, quieter Store Street branches are, we feel, superior to the Wardour Street original, although the latter has undergone refurbishment.
Busaba’s iconic metres of smooth, shiny wood are brightened at Bird Street with floating gerberas and tea lights, wafting incense, and an expansive view of white tiles.
The menu is tweaked occasionally (we long for the return of mooli omelette), but perennial favourites include Thai-style calamares; prawn pomelo with proper betel leaves; morning glory with yellow bean, garlic and chilli; and the cashew and coconut cookies that are included with the tisanes.
Smoky grilled aubergine arrived pretty as a picture topped with toasted coconut, chilli and fresh mint. Fresh chillies and green peppercorns added heat to a light stir-fry of seasoned cod fillet (at £9.70 among the pricier main courses).
A jasmine smoothie was expectedly fragrant and surprisingly crunchy, thanks to blended passion-fruit seeds. We’ve received complaints about service here, but in our experience it’s usually friendly and swift.