A REUNION dinner after one of my best mates had returned from a trip to Thailand – where better to take her than to a Thai restaurant?
Echo chum Cara had whetted her appetite for Thai cuisine in its birthplace recently, so Orangegrass had high standards to live up to.
Turns out, it passed the taste test with flying colours.
I’d never visited this corner of South Shields before. Two minutes from the centre of the town, it’s no great shakes from the outside.
Inside, however, is a different story.
We let out a collective “oooh” as we walked into this rather splendiferous restaurant. The colour scheme is orange, red and rich hues peppered with Thai trinkets and paraphernalia and immaculately laid-out tables.
We were impressed and Cara was chuffed at being able to try out her recently-learnt Thai phrases on the smiley staff.
Other pal Georga and I were less adept at manoeuvring our way around the vast menu, 114 options to be precise. Fortunately, our waiter was super helpful in giving us tips on what to choose.
As well as boasting some impressive-sounding Thai options, there are other Oriental dishes from which to choose.
There’s plenty of choice for the vegetarians out there, but we were after a meat and seafood hit. Faced with so much choice it took us an age to decide, but after some recommendations, we chose the mixed starter.
It’s perfect for the indecisive diner as it’s a smorgasbord of treats for the taste buds.
The cost is £7.25 per person and you get plenty for the price tag with a selection of deep-fried fish cake, charcoal-grilled chicken, deep fried marinated tiger prawns in filo pastry, vegetable spring rolls, Thai salad and deep-fried chicken in a sweet-chilli sauce.
It was simply scrumptious. However, the best was yet to come.
I’d ordered the Gung Pud Bai Ho-Ra-Pa for my main meal, a delicious blend of stir-fried king prawns with sweet basil, green bean, onion and pepper in an oyster sauce (£11.95).
The dish was rich, but not too much so, and I savoured every mouthful.
Cara, meanwhile, enjoyed her Mussaman with lamb (£8.95).
With its creamy, peanut base, it’s highly recommended for those who want to enjoy a curry without the heat. It was a generous portion which she struggled to finish, but it went down a treat.
Georga gave the thumbs up to her dish also: Gung Choo Chee, which consisted of whopping king prawns in a spicy coconut sauce with lime leaves and chilli (£11.95).
It had a real kick to it and is perfect if you enjoy your food with a bit of zing.
Your rug rats needn’t miss out either. Asian restaurants aren’t normally the eaterie of choice for those with kids in tow, but Orangegrass were more than happy to accommodate Cara’s son Tate.
He has fairly-advanced taste buds for a two-year-old and was delighted to be able to dunk his prawn crackers in some sweet chilli sauce before he moved on to some plain noodles and prawns.
Drinks-wise, we paid £12.95 for a bottle of house white, bringing our total bill to £81 with sides and a pudding for Tate.
This may have been our first visit to this corner of culinary excellence, but after that debut performance, I’m sure it won’t be our last.