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Old-school Thai with spicy twists

The Greyhound Café, a new restaurant opened by a major global fashion brand in Fitzrovia, is stuffed with surprises

29 March, 2019 — By Tom Moggach

The Greyhound Café’s food comes with ‘slap-your-face’ spicing

THAI food in London seldom packs the punch of the genuine article. Timid chefs go easy on the chilli and dial down bold flavours, hoping to please the crowds.

But this trend is ripped to shreds at Greyhound Café, a new restaurant in Fitzrovia that’s stuffed with surprises. For a start, it’s the odd name – not one that evokes the bustling backstreets of Bangkok.

It turns out that Greyhound is a major global fashion brand, with a nifty line in playful graphics and oversized clothes. Their 17 restaurants – stretching from China to Indonesia – are almost a happy afterthought.

This is their first outpost in Europe and quite unlike any Thai restaurant I’ve ever experienced.

For a start, there’s the sheer scale of it. You step into a sprawling two-floor site in Berners Street, with a large canopied terrace out front.

Décor and design is mind-boggling. Various sculptures dangle from the ceiling, including a gigantic woven fish trap, the size of a small car, and dozens of fish-shaped mobiles shimmering in gold and white.

Shelves are artily stuffed with bric-a-brac such as cooking pots, kettles and egg boxes. Black and white tiles enclose the gleaming open-plan kitchen.

We started at the bar, eyeing up the staff – a mix of Thais and Westerners – wearing red T-shirts bearing slogans such as “Life is short, more dessert anyone?”

Struggling to get our bearings, we flicked through their large magazine-style menu where every dish is numbered and photographed in a flash-lit, weirdly retro style.

The variety of dishes is yet another surprise: a mix of classic Thai and more experimental creations such as “Angry Veggie Pasta” or “Salmon in Hot Pursuit”.

“If you like spicy you’re in the right restaurant,” warns our friendly waiter, leading us to our table.

The food is excellent – with slap-your-face spicing and generous portions.

A scarlet red Tom Yum Goong soup, bobbing with prawn-stuffed ravioli and topped with one huge river prawn, left me smiling but similarly red in the face.

My friend loved her “Chicken Holy Basil Chilli Bomb” – stir-fried minced chicken, sticky rice, a crispy fried egg, and side bowl of cooling broth.

Pork knuckle is a trademark here – nuggets of slow-cooked meat with crispy skin, served with pickles and a pair of spicy sauces.

The menu also includes a crab burger with chips, pad thai with scallops, a deep-fried insect dish, a riff on nachos using rice crackers, and a decent selection of vegetarian options, with many featuring mushrooms.

I felt the cooking was invigorating, original and fairly priced – you could eat well for £15, including service, although we paid more by exploring the menu.

Greyhound Café serves breakfast and brunch, too, which looks just as intriguing.

The poetic last word goes to the founder, designer Bhanu Inkawat: “Just like in Bangkok, we mix traditional and international, street and couture, all fused together in a beautiful, chaotic way.”

Greyhound Café
37 Berners Street, W1T
020 3026 3798
www.greyhoundcafe.uk

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