Sometimes a risk is worth taking – and for Lotus Lounge that’s certainly been the case.
The business opened its doors recently in Saddler Street, Durham – a city which is already bursting with upmarket eateries, and ones which have already established themselves as quality Pan-Asian restaurants.
With head chef Martin Moor, formerly of Seaham Hall, taking the reigns in the kitchen, this place is starting to blossom.
Step inside Lotus Lounge and you find yourself whisked away from all the hustle and bustle into a serene setting with simplistic, uncluttered spaces.
Buddha-style sculptures are dotted around, quirky artwork adorns the walls and lanterns hang from the ceiling to add to the relaxed mood.
The restaurant, formerly Mrs Mustard, which only lasted a few months, was Hide bar and grill before that.
Bosses at Hide sold off their five businesses across the North East, but now they’re back – having also opened a Lotus Lounge in the former Hide premises in Yarm a year ago.
The menu features everything you would expect from Pan-Asian cuisine, with a nod to Thai, Malaysian, Japanese and southern Indian cooking.
You’ll find dishes such as Shanghai noodles (£10.95), to Vietnamese lamb rump (£15.95), as well traditional Asian-style curries.
My friends and I opted for a Lotus sharing platter to start (£12.95 for two).
It comprised of bang bang chicken with a peanut and honey dressing, tempura prawns with a sweet chilli dip, mini fish cakes, satay chicken, raw beef salad and tempura cod.
Not realising there would be so much, we also ordered chilli spiced squid (£6.95) and duck pancakes (£5.95).
It was a veritable feast and one that left us “oooh-ing” and “ahhh-ing” with every mouthful. We polished off every last piece and were congratulated from Martin for doing so.
Next up was classic pad Thai (£12.95), fillet of beef black bean served with peppers, chestnut mushrooms, black bean and coriander sauce (£16.95), which the ladies opted for. I settled with the Laksa yellow spiced king prawn and salmon curry (£14.95).
The presentation of each dish was impeccable, the taste even more so. Even though we were feeling pretty full from our starters, the aroma of the flavours had us tucking straight in.
It’s not very often that I get food envy, but the beef black bean was tremendously tasty and stole the show.
Only one of us had room for dessert (a panna cota) while my other friend and I finished off with a coffee-infused cocktail.
If a coffee or tea is what you prefer, Lotus Lounge has a good selection including vanilla, cinnamon or caramel-flavoured latte and jasmine, assam, chai and lemon and ginger tea (starting from £1.95).
Lotus Lounge certainly ticks all the right boxes. It’s got a great vibe and the food is delicious.
Fingers crossed it lasts longer than Mrs Mustard – but with dishes this tasty I’ve got a feeling it definitely will.