I’d read a couple of good reviews of Chaopraya Newcastle following its opening in the new food area of Eldon Square, and heard good things about the one in Leeds too. My experiences unfortunately haven’t been that great, so here’s what I thought following two recent visits on a Saturday afternoon.
We first went a couple of weeks ago, and it was OK, and yesterday a group of eight of us went for a 30th birthday meal.
The restaurant is beautiful, with big elephant and Buddha statues, candles, orchids and Thai themed decor throughout. You can access it from the ground floor of the Eldon Square entrance by French Connection, and getting the lift right the way to the top. The floor to ceiling windows around the inside section give you that fabulous view of Monument and the centre of Newcastle, so those window seats are obviously pretty popular.
Our first visit we were stood quite a while waiting for someone to seat us, and it seemed an inconvenience to sit six of us they weren’t sure they could fit us in. I assumed it must have been busy but when we came round the corner it was almost empty, so I’m not sure what the issue was. There was a few rows of comfy looking booths as well, which as a group of 6 we were a bit disappointed not to be given, apparently they only sit 4-5 – I was cheeky enough to ask.
The bar area leads through to the rooftop terrace, which welcomes you out with a giant candle lit gold Buddha. It was very pretty out there and I imagine would be nice in the summer.
We had starters and mains, my starter of steamed pork dumplings in soy sauce was delicious, but the Chicken Pad Thai noodle dish I had just didn’t do it for me. I like noodles but there was just too much sauce for my preference. I think in general we all really enjoyed our starters, and the non alcoholic cocktails we had were delicious! The service was slow and the mains were ok but not very memorable.
I decided to keep an open mind when I went back this weekend, and as a group of eight out for a 30th we were all looking forward to some drinks.
There’s no two ways of saying this but the drinks menu is expensive. Most places I’d say you can get a cocktail from as little as £6.50-£8 max in Newcastle, but the cheapest one I could see was £9. I went for this one not because it was cheap but it actually sounded quite nice, I’m a big gin fan and it was nice, but very small for the price, the photo below wasn’t half drunk that’s how it came. A glass of prosecco was £6 which isn’t bad, but a bottle was £28!! I don’t think I’ve paid more than £25 for a bottle these days.
We did get the bathtub gin sharing cocktail, which came beautifully presented, the type you love to Instagram basically. It said it served four and we definitely got at least a glass and a half to two glasses each between three of us. It was £32, and it was nice but not very strong. It reminded me of the watering cans at the Botanist, you get one cause it looks cute but actually the novelty wears of pretty quickly. It was watered down and just weak, the non alcoholic cocktail I had first time round was nicer.
I got the dumplings to start again and they were just as nice second time round. But this is when things started to go wrong. After our starters there was a huge wait before our mains. We had been in the restaurant for two hours by this point so we had to ask someone how long it was going to be. The private dining room has a two hour time limit on, but we were well past that before we actually got our meals.
I think everyone was reasonably happy with their food, one of the girls had duck and said it was overdone, but most of the mains were fine. Three of us shared the Chaopraya platter at £10 per person for our main and I have to say we were disappointed.
I know it’s technically a starter, but at £10 per person and three of us sharing we definitely expected more than we got. There were four things on the plate, and one of each per person. The whole thing fit on one plate, and even keeping in mind that it was a starter when you compare it to the likes of Jamie Olivers ultimate platter at £10 per person (that fills the entire table) it was really disappointing. We did complain about this, and they agreed it was expensive and brought us another portion of chicken satays and spring rolls.
Unfortunately we felt that the chicken satays weren’t fully cooked, so we asked to speak to the manager about our experience overall. She explained it wasn’t raw but the way it is cooked and they often get asked about it. It wasn’t very appetising and I couldn’t eat it.
To be fair, the manager was really lovely, very apologetic, didn’t want to make excuses and did everything she could to understand our issues and the problems we had. I don’t think we were unreasonable in our comments, and nobody likes having to complain (unless you’re one of those awful people who’s just never happy) but we aren’t like that we just like good food and strong cocktails!
Like I said the manager was great, and it really helps a bad situation. I think that despite being a really beautiful restaurant, unfortunately for me the food quality, service and cocktails of Chaophraya Newcastle just weren’t good enough for my personal preference to get me back in, but keep in mind there’s a lot of other restaurant types I prefer before Thai anyway.
If you are a big Thai food fan then I’d be interested to hear what you thought!