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Amongst those restaurants still open, expensively overblown & past-their-sell-by;  'Christmas menus' remind you of a birthday more important than yours: bummer. (Writing December 2012)


Inevitably, one is easily tempted farther East to escape, bowing to the Buddha and a properly exotic Thai experience. Ascending heavenwards in the elevator of an office block transports you to an impressive glitzy black, gold & appropriately lime-green entranceway, beckoning upwards yet again into its own cocoon of pleasingly 'luxe-dining' feel. Already more appealing than your average oriental offering.


An open kitchen and extensive cocktail bar lie to the rear. Cocktails tend to a fruity 'beach resort' taste & size, rather than the sublime herbal & floral offerings previously provided in the Oloroso incarnation here; but my 'Made in Thailand' (£7.50) was good - the Malibu element lent it a velvety texture, and for purists the classics are still available. From a well-selected albeit limited wine list, the four of us had two organic whites from the Chilean Emiliana winemaker: a Gewurztraminer (£24.75) and a Riesling (£28.95), both of manageable gravity and ideal with our food.


Pleasing white porcelain bowls show off the food to best advantage. The food itself had a mixed reaction: my own papaya salad (£7.95) was nothing to write postcards home about, though the crispy sticky rice parcels were surprisingly good; but the others very much enjoyed a fresh & generous prawn tempura (£8.95), char-grilled pork skewers (£7.55) and a crispy duck salad (£9.95).


My Brummie pal found her chef's signature Mussaman lamb main (£10.95) "magic". Stealing a morsel (while she mused on the idea of enjoying the outside sofas on the George St balcony in May), I agreed with her - melting & comforting coconutty yumminess. My other half enjoyed only half of the Chaophraya Duo of Fish at a hefty £18.95 (the sea bass, not the overcooked cod), though the main of king prawns with ginger at £14.95 was well-received.


There were enough interesting choices to make a return visit worthwhile - e.g., I would love to try their take on both street-style spicy rice and fried tofu with tamarind & chilli. The 'inside-outside' movable glassed-in balcony was busy and, despite being a chain - and pretty pricey for a Thai - you can expect this to be a sought-after fixture on the central dining scene. (The Go-Between)




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