Are you still scratching your head, wondering where to take your Valentine’s date? You are in good company!
This morning my friend S sent an emergency WhatsApp group message, asking for a last-minute restaurant recommendation. The brief: romantic, great food, under £100 per person. Easy…err not!
In the past week, I carefully reviewed the many Valentine’s dinner options around London; and I can confirm that very few restaurants offer a 3 course menu for less than £100/head, and even less come with the added value of a romantic atmosphere.
Last week however, I was invited to personally taste the Valentine’s menu at recently revamped Blue Elephant, relocated in stunning Imperial Wharf. And luckily for my restaurant-expert friend reputation, this eatery ticks all the boxes. Romantic? Check. Stunning views of the Thames. Great food? Check. Not your usual Thai, amazingly good traditional Royal Thai cuisine directly imported from Bangkok. Price? Check. Incredibly good value menu at £69.
The Thai feast starts with a delicious amuse bouche of Tom Yam Yod Phaeng, a sour soup with tiger prawns and the Chef’s homemade pastry, stuffed with herbal green curry and mixed vegetables. A little explosion of exotic flavours.
Thai born Chef Nooror then offers a few starter options. Vegetarian Chor Chom-pu, steamed floral shaped dumplings stuffed with yod phaeng and shitake mushroom. An interesting balance of different textures, beautifully presented.
My favourite, steamed egg custard with towhu topped with home-made strawberry sauce. I loved the sweet and sour combination of the unusual custard foie gras and the sweet strawberry sauce.
Other starter options include the fresh avocado salad with lemongrass, coriander, mint and kaffir lime leaves and the perfectly crispy, and piping hot, deep fried duck rolls served with a delicious red sweet and sour sauce.
Among the main course trio, my pick is the spicy lamb shank curry with black wild ginger. Seriously mouth-watering. Perfectly cooked juicy lamb, in a spicy, slightly sweet, rich aromatic sauce, with a little pleasant ginger – that I hear is known for its aphrodisiac properties! – kick.
Another excellent dish is the grilled black cod marinated with Korean ginseng, wrapped with banana leaves, served with a caramelized tamarind and shallot dip.
But if you want to stick to one of Thai staple foods, they also offer stir-fried giant (they really are giant – see my picture!) prawns with a home-made paste of bird’s eye chilies, shrimp paste, black wild ginger, kaffir lime, sweet basil leaves and a hint of rice whisky.
Two accompaniments for the mains, stir-fried jasmine rice with celeriac and crab meat and my favourite of the two, the crispy and delicate stir-fried green pak-choi with garlic, oyster, and soya sauce.
Lastly, the trio of desserts. A must-try is the ginger and honey vanilla Panna Cotta. A rich yet light, spicy pudding. It comes with a rose cream Éclair and a more traditional Thai heart-shaped coconut jelly.
Great Thai food with a twist. Recommended!
If your wallet doesn’t quite stretch to the budget needed for a dinner, what about a fun yet romantic night of bowling and cocktails at All Star Lanes in Holborn? My cocktail pick: the Love Tap with Bombay Sapphire Gin, Cassis, Fresh Lemon, Sugar and Pomegranate Juice topped with Prosecco.
If you are planning a steamy night in, then why not try my Nutella and M&Ms truffle recipe to surprise your date?
No matter how you will decide to celebrate, Happy Valentine’s day!