FOOD MONSTER: Thailand Number One in Bailgate, Lincoln
The dull, grey, drizzly and uninspiring August has capped off a right old mess of a summer.
During those frozen nights of winter there persists the temptation to look ahead to the long days of sitting around in the back garden, an "improving" book – or trashy novel, you take your pick – in one hand, the other clasping a cheeky drink, basking in the therapeutic glow of summer's greatest gift.
Yes, that's the sunshine, if you'd forgotten.
Alas, finding solace this summer has been akin to poking your head through a gap expecting to find streams of sunlight, only to realise it's the stocks at a village fete wet sponge competition. There appears to be little respite.
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And so it was through these inclement conditions that we trudged to Thailand Number One, situated in the heart of Lincoln's Bailgate.
Contact details and location map for Thailand No. 1 in Lincoln...
Rather optimistically, they placed us in the conservatory in the rear of the restaurant. We ate early, around 7pm, but as the evening progressed the buzz of a busy restaurant came to the fore.
Service, though, was not a problem throughout our two-hour stay. Choosing our orders proved to be a task on a far larger scale, albeit with a wide and welcome choice.
My dining partner opted for Tom Yam soup with prawns and mushrooms. Considering she's travelled to the Far East before and this was hardly her first taste of this hot and sour classic, the response was an encouraging and firm thumbs-up.
The furthest east I've ever managed is Lowestoft, but on her prompting I tried Gai Hor Bai Taei, chicken marinated with coriander root, cracked black pepper, wrapped in pandan leaves and deep fried, served with sweet chilli sauce.
You have to take off the leaves before you eat, you see, otherwise the experience is taken down a notch, somewhat.
Thankfully I was afforded this advice and enjoyed every last mouthful.
My Pad Neau Harappa main course – beef, stir fried with Thai sweet basil leaves, onion and red chilli – carried a subtle taste with a hint of something a little more challenging.
On the other side of the table, I sneaked a quick taste of my dining partner's Phed Pad Subprarot while she wasn't looking and it was totally at odds with my dish, in a welcome way, I'm pleased to say.
Chosen from the chef's specials, this duck dish with pineapple, cooked in red wine sauce, enlivened the taste buds to such an extent that I even had to gulp down some water before returning to our good bottle of Rioja.
To accompany these dishes we ordered Khaow Suay, steamed and fragrant white rice, plus another traditional favourite of Pad Thai.
Its mixture of fried noodles, chicken, beansprouts, spring onion, tamarind and ground peanuts enhanced what was a very fine dining experience.
The folly of this whole exercise was to realise how little we eat Thai food, which I always find to feature more subtle and fragrant tastes than its more popular Indian and Chinese counterparts.
We chose not to finish off the meal with dessert, which was wise as an overall bill of just over £60, places this firmly in the "special night out" category.
Whether that comes near Christmas, when the nights draw in and we dream, less hopefully this time, of a warm and beautiful summer, remains to be seen.
But at least we know of a fine restaurant in the heart of the city that would make the dullest of days just that little bit interesting.
FINAL VERDICT: Subtle flavours combined with a fine atmosphere. Recommended if you want to try something different from your usual Indian or Chinese options.
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