Totally Thai, Warwick

Totally Thai is one of a number of charming family-run restaurants dedicated to good food in Warwick town centre, as unlikely a centre for gastronomy as Baghdad is for peace and tranquility but one which has undoubtedly stepped up to the mark through establishments such as Micatto.  The effect of a cluster of decent hostelries in the quaint and delightful town centre seems to be that more punters are attracted, though for some reason this Thai, located on the far side of the Market Place, has always appeared quiet as I walked past.

Any reason for this, I wondered?  Thai is after all the new Chinese – endlessly popular and with its own signature dishes, notably the green and red curries available on every supermarket exotic foods aisle.  Perhaps it’s always been a notch or two more expensive than your Chinese, arguably because whole families did not emigrate from Thailand the way they did from Hong Kong and other dependencies, so the supply of cheap waiters and chefs is not the same.  Thai dishes were also a tad more sophisticated in their construction, a trifle subtler in the skills required, and definitely more than the image that Thai food was the midway point between Chinese and Indian, as some paint it.  True, there were always the stir fries, curries, noodle dishes and rice dishes, but the flavours and presentation were generally unique to the Thai style and served in portions slightly smaller than the Chinese and Indian equivalents, while never descending to the ludicrous depths of nouvelle.

Totally Thai is no exception to that rule, run with a certain shy je ne sais quoi, that unwritten air found in a few restaurants that even though you booked you are slightly unexpected but very welcome, and will be treated with the merest hint of deference and awe.  There were a smattering of other guests but somehow that did not lessen the feeling that you were in some small way special and privileged.

Just as well, since the waitress’s grasp of English required repetition and confirmation to be quite sure, though certainly not following the traditional British pattern of bellowing out the same words ten decibels higher.  The order was taken and served quite correctly, with only one element of surprise, namely that we chose mixed starters followed by an intermediate course of soup.

Actually, given portion control this was a wise choice in more ways than one.  The Thai mixed starters, even preceded by an amuse bouche of prawn crackers and sweet chilli sauce, were pleasant and tasty snacks but maybe not sufficient on their own.  So a bowl of Tom Kha with mushrooms, a really flavoursome soup with lemon grass, fresh galangal (distinctive Thai ginger) and coconut milk, proved very welcome and not formidably expensive.

The main courses also went down well: Phet Yang (roast duck in a Thai sauce), Neau Yang (steak with red curry sauce), plus coconut rice and Pad Thai with prawns.  Not the greatest Thai food I’ve ever eaten but more than competent and served at every turn with charm.  It was washed down by pots of green tea, and credit to the waiting staff for not trying to flog alcohol in preference to the very refreshing and endlessly refilled pots of tea.

In summary: a decent and honest restaurant with good service and perfectly good food, about which I can think of nothing to complain, served at fair prices.


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