These days you can pimp pretty much anything. You might splash out on a diamante dog collar for your mutt; personalise your loo paper and even vajazzle your… well, you know.
Now, it’s the turn of the cheap-and-cheerful combo of ‘pub with Thai food’ to go upmarket, in the shape of this swanky Kennington newcomer. One side is a stylish bar; the other an elegant, low-lit restaurant, tricked out in the Royal Thai way with dark, high-gloss woods.
The menu also has high intentions, with luxurious offerings from across the Orient (yellowtail sashimi, miso black cod) in among the mostly Thai dishes. But the basics are decent – our tom yam soup, laced with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and red chilli, cleared out the cobwebs ahead of a refreshing som tam (a salad of shredded under-ripe papaya that balances sweet, salt, sour and spice).
There were a few duff notes, though: a ‘signature’ dish of stir-fried prawns in a sweet chilli reduction proved one-dimensional, and came not with the fine beans advertised, but with sugar-snap peas. For afters, we tried a tempura-clad scoop of ice-cream: a nice idea, but too sweet and insipid to impress.
Happily, a strong selection of speciality beers, such as JHB, our light and aromatic golden ale (brewed by Oakham Ales), proved a distraction: there’s even German wheat beer by Krombacher.
This may not be the place to relive memories of hawker stalls – the staff are an international bunch and the music is more ‘spa’ than Siam – but for an attractive spot to enjoy spice and beer, it hits the spot.
by Tania Ballantine