Tucked away just out of the town centre in Eastborough, Thai Smile is the latest eaterie to bring new blood to this part of town.
The premises has been home to a number of restaurants and cafes over the years and what it lacks in size, it makes up for in the warm welcome extended to customers.
Having visited a number of times since the bistro opened, I thought I’d return to see what it was like on a Saturday night after the summer season had drawn to a close.
The restaurant was fairly busy, with family groups, friends and couples lending the venue a pleasant buzz.
It has the feel of a place you might visit on holiday, with warm yet simple decor, adorned with pictures and items showing the owner’s Thai heritage – along with some very British flying ducks on the wall which made us chuckle.
We arrived just before 6.30pm, having booked, and were told we could still order from the early bird menu if we wished, which runs from 4pm to 6pm.
It offers good value for money, with a main course and starter for £8.99 (chicken or pork) or £9.99 (beef, lamb or prawns).
However, we chose to order from the main menu, which has a wide range of dishes, including plenty of vegetarian options.
To start we ordered Thai fishcakes (£3.95) made with fish which is blended with red curry paste, green beans, lime leaves and chilli, served with sweet chilli and ground peanut sauce.
We also had a serving of Thai spring rolls (£3.50) with mixed vegetable served with sweet chilli sauce.
While looking through the menu we were also offered some Thai prawn crackers and sweet chilli dip to nibble on.
I wasn’t sure whether these were complimentary or not, but they did appear on the bill at the end for £1.50.
The starters both looked very pretty when they arrived, with smart presentation continuing throughout the meal.
The spring rolls were tasty and crisp, and though we enjoyed the flavour of the fishcakes, the texture was quite rubbery. However, I looked this up afterwards and apparently this is what Thai fishcakes are supposed to be like – so we know for next time!
For our main course we opted for pad Thai (£6.99) – stir-fried noodles with eggs, bean sprouts, carrot, spring onion, ground peanuts and tofu, and Gaeng Masaman curry (£6.95) with tofu in a rich coconut with onion and peanut sauce with potato, with Jasmine rice (£1.70).
The food again looked very appetising and arrived swiftly.
The pad Thai was a little bland and could have done with more vegetables, as it was mainly noodles and crispy friend tofu. I much preferred the curry, which was beautifully creamy and flavoursome, with just the right amount of chilli kick.
I’ve had both the red and green curries at Thai Smile before and can vouch for them too as a good menu choice.
For dessert we shared a portion of pineapple ice cream, served in a scooped-out pineapple (£3.95). It was lovely and we could have probably managed one each, as the portion size was fairly small.
This friendly bistro offers choice and value for money, with the meal (with two drinks) coming to £34.94.
Score: 7 out of 10