Thai Manor, Sunniside, Sunderland

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It’s all too easy to fall into the Nando’s or Frankie & Benny’s trap for pre-cinema face filling in the city centre.

Granted, they’re a (sometimes) tasty and easy option, but sometimes you want to enjoy a meal that’s a tad more exotic.

As it’s only a two-minute walk from Sunniside car park, we chose Thai Manor for a catch up before we immersed ourselves in the cinema’s latest release.

It was a Wednesday night, usually a slow night in the city centre restaurant business, but there was still a fair few diners at this authentic Thai restaurant, which has built up a good reputation over the years.

We hadn’t booked, though this is probably advisable on a weekend, but the staff quickly seated us at an immaculately laid-out table in the large dining room.

Service was everything you could want for: swift, friendly, efficient and attentive.

The menu is equally satisfying with a whopping 90 options plus banquets – I didn’t count them, they are numbered, which is handy for non-Thai speakers.

To start, we chose the Thai Manor mix appetiser (£10.50).

It’s for two people and whisks your taste buds away to the Far East with a selection of spring roll, satay gai (chicken), prawn toast, taud mun plah (fish cake) and toong taung (little pastry parcels of Thai morsels).

It was more than enough to satisfy two people, but we were determined to find some space for our main meals.

I like to think I’m an adventurous eater, but I went with the classic Pad Thai. It’s a dish that I enjoyed so much when I last visited Thai Manor a couple of years back that I wanted to have it again.

It didn’t disappoint second time around and was a delicious blend of vegetables, noodles and prawns. The ground peanut was to the side rather than lathered on top of the dish, which I prefer, so I can flavour to my liking.

As an added bonus, it’s also one of the cheaper dishes on the menu at £8. As it comes with noodles you don’t have to order any to accompany it which again makes it a more purse-friendly option.

Curry can be a dish that’s easy to get wrong, but Laura’s choice of mussaman with chicken (£7.95) was spot on.

It’s a milder curry than most and is a smooth blend of coconut milk with vegetables and Thai herbs topped with crispy shallot and cashew nuts.

The sauce was packed with flavour and was just the right side of rich and I couldn’t resist helping Laura to mop the last spoonfuls up.

For those after a cheaper option, the lunch time menu offers good value for money.

Running between noon and 2pm Monday to Saturday, it offers a choice of starter, main course and ice cream or coffee for £9.95 per person.

Katy Wheeler