Wednesday, 21 December 2016
REVIEW: Busaba Eathai, St Albans
I may have moved out of St Albans, but I'm still a Snorbener at heart. Also, I've moved like 20 minutes away, I'm still there all the time. Nothing's really changed - I'm keeping an eye out for new places to eat and constantly adding to my mental 'To eat' list, which is extremely long.
The newest restaurant to be ticked off that list is Busaba Eathai. They opened in early November, and invited my pal Fiona and I to their opening night. It's a beautiful restaurant, situated on Verulam Road in the building that used to be Cinta Garden. It has a striking dark, intimate decor with quirky murals and high ceilings. And the food - obvs the most important part - is excellent.
Our first dish was a selection of canapes that ranged from sweet to spicy to salty, which was a great concept. Unfortunately we ruined the effect a little, as Fiona's a vegetarian who eats fish, and I'm a meat-eater who doesn't eat fish. So she had the prawn, I had the chicken, and we split the cucumber.
Next, we were given a selection of the main menu to choose from, and I started with the sticky tamarind wings, which came with pineapple, ginger and chilli. These were amazing - although they weren't spicy, they were full of flavour, with a salty sweetness that was pretty much to die for. Also, for a starter, the portions were super generous and I was pretty wowed by my little stack o'chicken.
Fiona had the Som tam - a green papaya salad with dried shrimp, peanut, tomato and lime. She liked it a lot, although she found it on the spicy side, it was not overpowering, and had a lot of flavour.
For my main, I had the Songkhla beef curry, which was delicious. It was packed with slow-cooked beef, tomatoes and banana peppers and came with a healthy portion of jasmine rice. It was the perfect amount of spicy for my wussy tongue - definitely some heat, but not too spicy that all I could taste was burning. That is my least favourite amount of spicy.
Fiona had the soybean and aubergine stir-fry, which contained egg tofu, chilli, shimeji mushrooms and black beans. Again, it was really well done, with a lovely mix of textures and flavours. Also, it was significantly more photogenic than my main:
The drinks were great too, and we were given a choice of their cocktails to choose from. They were all Thai twists on a classic, such as a Red Mule (with hibiscus), a Whiskey Plum Sour (with umeshu plum liqueur) and an Asian Mojito (with kaffir lime leaves).
Rather than dessert, we settled for one last cocktail and headed home with our goodie bag - probably the most creative one I've ever received from a new restaurant, as it contained all the ingredients to make our own red curry! I love that idea. Another lovely touch was that guests were encouraged to enjoy the complementary menu, but also donate to their partners, Herts Young Homeless, so if you can spare it, do donate. It's a great cause.
Our meal at Busaba Eathai was lovely, and I can't wait to go back and try out more of the menu - the small plates in particular are right up my street as I love to try lots of everything. The menu in general is good value, but there is also a prix fixe menu available until 7pm and an express lunch menu with a set price too. There are several other branches of the chain about in London, Liverpool and Manchester, if you're keen to try it out.
Busaba Eathai is at 7-11 Verulam Rd, St Albans AL3 4DA. The restaurant kindly paid for our meal in exchange for an honest review.
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