If you live in St Albans, you will be very familiar with the former Tudor Tavern, which sits on the corner of Verulam Road and George Street. This beautiful Grade II listed timber-framed building, with a history dating back to 1400, is currently home to Thai Square.
A sympathetic conversion retained many of the original, protected features - now complemented by a wood flooring and furniture, Thai statues and, at the time of our visit, some festive decorations.
The restaurant group, established during 1996, now has 13 outlets in London and the South East. Their remit is to serve ‘tasty, authentic Thai food within interesting, often historical, and luxurious Thai-inspired surroundings’. Their St Albans venue must be one of their more unusual locations, and definitely provides a dining experience in an environment with its own unique character.
We received a warm welcome when we dined on a wet and windy weekday evening in December. Assisted by friendly staff, who know the menu inside-out, we started with the drinks selection. A classic Champagne cocktail always delivers, and it was easy to see why the recommended ‘Crystal Ball’ (fresh lychee, lemongrass, ginger, lemongrass vodka, ginger vodka, demerara sugar, lychee juice and lime juice) is so popular. The large bar area is perfect if you just want to swing by for an early evening drink and some quality prawn crackers.
The embarrassment of riches on offer makes ordering quite challenging. We shared a starter of Aromatic Duck with steamed pancakes, cucumber and spring onions, served with house special hoisin sauce. Equally tempting were the Thai dumplings, the mixed starter selection and salt & pepper squid.
After asking the well-informed staff for their favourite mains, we settled on Chu Chi Goong (jumbo prawns in red panang sauce topped with coconut cream), a creamy, flavourful and Chicken Panang Curry, some Thai Jasmine Rice and a shared Som Tum, a salad of green papaya mixed with chillies, tomatoes, long beans, lime juice, garlic and nuts.
At this point it is worth noting that Thai Square’s ‘red chilli rating’ system has three levels: medium hot, hot and very hot. We found that 1 chilli (medium hot) was our limit and that the Som Tum salad was too fiery for us. Lesson learned for our next visit.
There really is something for every fan of Thai food on the main, set and vegetarian menus – soups, stir fries, curries, grilled dishes, noodles (Pad Thai, of course) and 5 different types of rice. Portions are generous but if you have room (we didn’t) then a selection of ice creams and sorbets will tempt you to go for one more course.
Our thanks to the staff at Thai Square for inviting us to visit and for looking after us so well.
Thai Square St Albans, 26a – 28 George Street, St Albans, AL3 4ES
Image - Thai Square