Friday night turned out to be quite something when it came to “firsts” for me.
A creature of habit, it’s the end of the week and involves a pint on the way home, dinner, bottle of red and a restless night’s sleep before the Saturday morning ritual that is golf.
So for what must be the first time ever, I ventured out for a restaurant review (traditionally last-minute affairs on a Tuesday or Wednesday).
As for the venue, well it certainly wasn’t a first. In its former life as The Vineyard I reviewed the opening early last year, I know the owner well and my girlfriend, Donna, siting across the table, was manager for a while.
The revamp last year made it a place definitely worth a visit; the food was very good but it never really achieved the following it deserved - Peterborough clearly isn’t ready for a classy bar/restaurant yet.
As of Tuesday last week it has a new guise: Mai Thai.
The interior has had a bit of a makeover, the colour scheme giving it a warmer and more inviting feel.
There’s a small area to sit with a drink if you don’t want to be shown to your table straight away, so we munched through some prawn crackers with dips (I particularly liked the peanut satay) and gave the menu the once over.
It’s not the lengthy unfathomable tome you often find in Indian or Chinese restaurants but more than enough to make us change our minds on a couple of occasions.
The concept is simple enough: A la-carte buffet - you pay £9.95 for a starter, main course, side dish and rice or noodle dish. And it is brought to the table, none of that serve yourself malarkey.
I’ve eaten Thai at East and the Brewery Tap and can take or leave it. For Donna, it’s the top of the pile, even if being pregnant meant she was going to have to forego the seafood.
Now here’s another first; for the first time I have had a Thai meal that has really blown me away. The presentation (see the photos), the service and, most important of all, the food, was top, top notch.
Starters consisted of Thai fish cakes for me which were small, an unusual though pleasant texture, and very tasty - with or without the dip.
Donna went straight for the tom yum soup - albeit the mushroom rather than prawn variety. No complaints, however, as lovely juicy mushrooms, chilli, lemon grass and lime leaves gave the tastebuds something to think about.
Thai curry has often left me gasping for breath, so it was time for something new. Chilli lamb not only sounded good, but looked fantastic and tasted superb.
The lamb was in small chunks, soft and melt-in-the-mouth, the peppers nice and crisp, and neither was overpowered by the chillies - no wafer thin slivers here but great big chunks that tasted great and were hot without taking over and spoiling the dish.
The egg in the noodles was a nice touch and the vegetable side orders were crisp and tender.
Donna’s hunan chicken also got the seal of approval, nice juicy pieces of meat with green peas and mushrooms, absolutely oozing flavour which meant missing out on the fish dishes was quickly forgotten.
Stella on tap meant the car was staying put and another first - I used a bus for the first time in 13 years in Peterborough.
Appropriately it was the Number One.
9 out of 10
Mai Thai, 77 Lincoln Road, Peterborough, contact 01733 567558 to book or visit maithairestaurant.co.uk
Tod Mun Pla (Thai fish cakes)
Salt and pepper calamari
Crispy chilli beef
Tom yum soup
Som tum jay (papaya salad)
Pad poh tak (stir fried seafood)
Sua rong hai (marinated sirloin of beef)
Pad nam mun hoi (stir friend chicken/duck/prawn/beef/veg)
Pad med mamuang (sauteed chicken/duck/prawn/beef/veg with cashew nuts, pineapple and roasted chillies)
Mixed veg with oyster sauce
Brocolli with oyster sauce
Spinach with ginger and garlic
Eggplant with chillies and basil leaves
RICE AND NOODLE
Various (not included )
Prawn and duck dishes carry a £2 surcharge