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Restaurant review: Bunthip Thai, The Bingley Arms, Bardsey

Bunthip Thai

Bunthip Thai

AS appalling as this may be to many sci-fi fans, Oliver has never been a big fan of Dr Who.

Don’t get me wrong, the Daleks and Cybermen and whatnot where always worth a watch.

But even as a youngster, I always found the concept of the Tardis to be lacking a certain something.

It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the endless entertainment merits of time travel, but if you’re going to have your own time machine, I’d just expect it to be a bit more visually impressive.

To me, the idea of having something so cool and futuristic contained within a device that looks so quintessentially English and, let’s face it, a bit run down seemed like a bit of a waste.

And it was with similar sentiments that my companion and I first arrived at the Bingley Arms in Bardsey which is home to Thai restaurant Bunthip Thai.

It was quite late in the evening dark and snowy so at first we wondered if we might have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way.

A more unlikely setting for a contemporary restaurant you’d struggle to find.

The picture perfect village pub looks positively ancient (and subsequent research revealed it is in fact the oldest in Britain, dating back to around 953AD).

Making our way inside, we were greeted by a wide set of stairs, with the familiar sounds of a pub drifting down from above as we creaked our way along the squeaking boards.

As we got to the top of the first flight, we almost turned through the narrow door into the bar area before spotting the sign directing us up another floor to Bunthip Thai.

Suitably reassured that we were in the right place, we continued on until the stairs opened, Tardis-like, onto a large and spacious restaurant area, decked out in plush red, with a modern-looking bar and Eastern-themed décor.

It was only the huge, time-worn timbers overhead that betrayed the building’s Middle Age origins.

We were greeted by a lone member of staff, who smiled and greeted us warmly despite out bemused expressions.

We were shown to our table, still a little bit nonplussed, and handed our menus.

Any confusion was quickly and forcefully shoved aside by our appetites, which had been kicked into overdrive by a huge selection of very interesting dishes.

After some time taking in our surroundings, we ordered our starters, with my companion deciding on a Thai favourite of Satay Gai, a char-grilled satay chicken.

The large potion of heavily-seasoned sticks of chicken could easily have been a main course but the chicken was tender and full of sweet, nutty flavour so there were no complaints from the other side of the table.

For my own starter, I ordered, Ga Dook Moo, pork spare ribs cooked in a rich, sticky bbq flavour sauce.

Spare ribs can sometimes be a bit hit and miss in terms of how much you actually get to eat in relation to how fiddly they can be. But in this case each rib had a healthy chuck of meat which can away easily and was deliciously sweet and tangy after being covered with sauce.

It’s worth saying that presentation wise, both dishes were beautiful, dressed as they were with bright and colourful vegetables carved expertly into the shape of delicate roses.

The main course selection is even bigger, with a huge range Thai curries and speciality dishes.

My companion ordered Goong Plow, marinated tiger prawn, char-grilled and served with a homemade seafood sauce. Brought to the table still sizzling on a metal platter there were so many prawns they were spilling over the edges.

Our waitress poured the seafood sauce over the dish at the table, which made them sizzle and release a strong, spicy aroma.

The prawns themselves were quite lightly flavoured but still with plenty of spice and were served with a selection of crisp, tasty vegetables.

For my own main course, I ordered Suea Rong Hai, given the ominous-sounding name of ‘Weeping Tiger’ on the menu.

What actually arrived was a marinated, 8oz sirloin steak, char-grilled and served with homemade Thai sauce.

Like my companion’s main course, it was brought on a similar sizzling platter and the sauce applied at the table.

The steak was tender and juicy and cooked slightly rare in thin strips and surrounded by a mixture of stir-fried vegetables and peppers.

The dark sauce was full of salty soy and spices and I polished off the whole dish alarmingly quickly.

As a side order, I also had some noodles mixed with vegetables and crushed peanuts which were the perfect addition to my main.

With just enough room for dessert, we asked for a menu and to be honest, we were expecting the usual generic, bought in ice cream selection.

So we were pleasantly surprised to be handed a small list of some authentic-sounding desserts.

My companion could barely suppress a yelp of delight at the inclusion of fried bananas, which had apparently been a favourite of his for years.

Incredibly simple and served with nothing more spectacular than a small blob of whipped cream, the dessert was received as if it were the most exquisite treat imaginable.

For my own dessert, I ordered a traditional Thai custard, completely unsure what I would actually be served.

After a short wait I was served a small ramekin filled to the brim with what looked like a sponge pudding.

The contents were actually a firm custard which was very sweet but had a slightly unpleasant texture. It became a bit too heavy to eat at around the halfway mark.

Along with drinks though, the bill came to just over £55, which felt incredibly reasonable for something so refreshingly different.

And it was definitely better than a trip in the Tardis as well, I’d say.

FACTFILE

Address: Bunthip Thai at The Bingley Arms, Church Lane, Bardsey, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS17 9DR

Telephone: 01937 572462

Website: www.bingleyarms.co.uk

STAR RATING

Food ***

Value ****

Atmosphere ***

Service ****

 

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