The view may be unmistakably Newcastle, but the flavours are traditional Thai with a twist.
Take a trip to the new Grey’s Quarter in Eldon Square (think fancy food court) and you’re spoilt for choice for a meal.
We chose the fanciest of the bunch to dine: Chaophraya (don’t ask me to pronounce it). Perched on the top of the quarter, it offers prime views of Grey’s Monument, up Blackett Street and down the sweeping Georgian facade of Grey Street, while the interior is a blend of New York lounge seating meets the Far East with smatterings of orchids and Buddhas. It’s a slick style which helps to set it apart from the more bland chains downstairs.
We booked ahead and were able to get one of the tables that hug the panoramic windows and, aside from neighbouring Botanist, there are few places in the city that can offer such a dramatic vista. It felt suitably special for a Saturday night date night.
The food was equally theatrical.
I chose the Yaowarat dumpling platter to start (£8.95), a Chinese import and street food favourite in their adopted Thailand. It’s on the pricey side for a starter, but you get six dumplings, whose wafer-thin skin was almost fit to burst with pork, prawn and beef. They were steamed to perfection, real melt in the mouth morsels, which come with an accompanying sticky soy dip for an extra layer of flavour.
As a side, we chose from the Thai Re-Imagined section of the menu, which offers some imaginative takes on Thai cuisine. Our choice of ceviche scallop, chilli and dressing nasturtiums (£5.95) was prettily presented and a refreshing medley of flavours, with notes of lime and chilli adding extra depth, but we would have liked a little more of the succulent seafood.
For mains, I chose the spicy beef salad (£14.95). I was presented with plenty of strips of tender sirloin steak for my pounds and, with the addition of grape, celery, tomatoes and red chillies which brought a kick, was a lighter alternative in the current heat wave to some of the heavier curries on the menu. A simple dish, done well.
The pudding proved more dramatic. We chose to share a chocolate bomb (£7.95). It’s not Thai, but we weren’t complaining. Our waitress melted the glistening chocolate sphere at our table, as it oozed into submission to reveal a peanut mousse, toffee and chocolate centre. This is a pudding that’s crying out to be Instagrammed. Peanuts provided a hint of Thailand, while the rest was unadulterated decadence.
Last time I visited Chaophraya was in opening week 18 months ago, when I was less than impressed with the food and service. However, any teething problems seem to have been well and truly extracted: we had the same waitress throughout who was helpful and attentive, while the food seemed to be executed with much more flair.
The name may be a tough one to digest, but our tastebuds were more than tickled by the food.