REVIEW: Mantra Thai, Forth Banks, Newcastle
Impeccable service and tantalising flavours seem to be the mantra at this Thai place.
Set on Forth Banks in the shadow of the Centre for Life, it’s perfectly placed for anyone who’s heading into Newcastle from Central Station or is en route to the arena.
Descend the bank and it’s easy to spot this slice of Thai dining, with its Oriental-style sloping roofs, which once housed the well-known Waterside Palace Chinese restaurant.
Now a haven of Thai foods, it’s all change inside.
It’s a sleek and sparkling restaurant, all clean lines and neutral tones, finished off with Thai trinkets and wooden fret work, and trendy feature lighting that shimmers.
It’s a sharp attention to detail that’s reflected in the food, a choice conjured up by the restaurant’s Thai owner.
The menu is massive and touches upon every flavour you can think of from this Oriental corner of the globe in its diverse selection of salads, soups, noodle dishes, seafood selection, grill, curries and stir fried dishes.
Vegetarians needn’t settle for just one or two choices either: there’s a good selection of adventurous animal-friendly options, including Panang curry with butternut squash tempura (£8.95) and sweet corn fritters (£6.50).
For those after a cheaper option, the early dining menu, which offers Thai staples, runs from 5pm to 7pm and offers a starter and main course for £15.95 per person.
I waded through the appetiser section of the lengthy regular menu and settled for the grilled pork skewers (£7.95).
Service is super efficient, polite and swift here and it didn’t take long until our dishes were served.
Mine was served Bangkok-style on skewers, four of them to be precise, which made it perfect for dunking in the pot of honey and coriander sauce. It was a sweet balance to the succulently tender pork.
For mains I chose from the salad section. Sounds dull, but this is no ordinary salad section, with options such as grilled pork with lemongrass and salmon with Thai papaya.
It was the glass noodle with seafood option (£11.55) that won my patronage – king prawns, seafood, scallops, squid and mussels served with glass noodles and salad. It’s a medley of textures that blend together well in this dish that’s popular in its birthplace. The addition of lime juice, fish sauce and coriander lifted the subtle nuance of the seafood, while the chillies added a kick. A lot of kick.
I had to reach for a glug of water more than once. But there’s a reminder of heat strength next to each menu option, and the staff are happy to tone it down for more timid palates.
The drinks are as exotic as some of the foods and feature everything from flames to classic cocktails. For a far flung tipple, try one of the Thai options. The Mor-Ra-Kot (£8) blue Curacao, peach schnapps, orange juice, lime juice, Canadian Club whisky and passion fruit, is bound to knock your socks off.
In keeping with the authenticity of the place, there’s also a range of Thai beers including bottles of Singha and Chang beer (£3.75).
As the night went on, the large restaurant began to fill, but the good service never slipped.
We enjoyed our experience so much, we ended up staying for three hours, almost missing the gig we were off to at the arena. Even the time flies at this corner of Thailand.