If you live in Newcastle you’ll be aware that loads of new restaurants have recently opened in Eldon Square, there was quite a few that are restaurants that we already have which is a little disappointing. However there have been quite a few new places opening up for the first time in the city and last month I was lucky enough to be invited along with a plus one to the official opening of Chaophraya, Newcastle’s new rooftop Thai restaurant.
Now I must apologise in advance for the quality of these photographs, I didn’t want to lug my huge camera around with me all day so decided to bring along a little Nikon bridge camera that I have. But due to the ambient lighting of the venue, it struggled quite a bit with lighting so a lot of the photos turned out quite blurry and generally a little bit shit. So I’ve included a few of the official photographs from the night so you can all see how beautiful the food and decor really is.
The invitation said there were welcome drinks at 6.30pm and we had our table booked for 7.45pm but we arrived a bit early, because who wants to miss out on welcome drinks? I must admit at this point we were a little confused when we arrived there wasn’t really a clear explanation of what was going on, so we sat down near the bar area and read the menu. I was basically waiting until I saw somebody else I knew (introvert problems) luckily Jennifer appeared with her husband Andrew and they both seemed equally confused as Lee and myself.
We weren’t sat at the bar for very long before we were whisked away by one of the elegantly dressed waitresses who took us to our seat in a beautiful dining area full of ornate Buddha statues and foliage. Somehow we ended up at our table a lot earlier than we had thought, but hey I’m not complaining as we were starving by then. The drinks we ordered finally arrived, the bar service was a little slow, and I can say they were worth the wait! Lee opted for a whiskey-based cocktail (I forgot the name and there isn’t a menu online) and I opted for a fruitier one. Both of them were delicious and I would recommend if I was able to remember the name of them, oops.
Whilst we read the menu and tried to decide what we wanted, this was had as there were so many amazing sounding dishes, we were given some Thai prawn crackers to nibble on. When I think of prawn crackers it’s the usual greasy white ones you get with a takeaway, however, these were anything but! These were light, crispy and not an ounce of oil in sight. They felt like a healthier and more delicious version of the prawn crackers I’m used to.
After much deliberation we finally decided on our starters, Lee opted for the pork spare ribs covered in barbecue sauce and served with grilled pineapple, who can report back that they were delightful (his words) and I stole the bits of pineapple which were delicious. I opted for the steamed pork dumplings that were served beautifully with soy sauce and fried garlic. For a starter the portion size was perfect, although I could have easily eaten a barrel full as they were delicious, I would definitely recommend.
We didn’t have to wait long between our starters and our main meals which made me very happy, I hate when you’re out for a meal and have to wait forever between courses. I really struggled on what to pick for my main meal as there were so many different meals I wanted to try. But after much deliberation, I finally settled on the Duck Tamarind with a side of noodles and beansprouts. I opted for a side dish as I had seen a few photos of the main meals and thought they looked a little small, how wrong was I? I really struggled to finish the whole thing as the portion of duck was more than generous, and super succulent too. I often find Duck a little too fatty and heavy going, but this was beautifully cooked with crispy skin without feeling too heavy and overindulgent. Lee picked the spicy seafood udon noodles, which was full of mussels, prawns and squid with lots of veggies thrown in for good measure. Which again Lee reports were very tasty, I even tried a muscle and can agree it was delicious, if not a little spicy for my little tastebuds.
We did um and ah about if we could fit in desserts, but because we are both greedy gannets we decided we should be able to squeeze in a little something. Lee chose the mango meringue roll, which he said was ‘quite nice’ and I went for the white chocolate box. I can’t speak for Lee but my dessert was probably the highlight of the meal. I felt like the dessert was made for me as I’m a huge fan of white chocolate and this was just perfect. It was rich, creamy and you could really taste the white chocolate in it. This was served with a lovely tart raspberry coulis and passionfruit syrup which helped cut through the richness.
At this point I was well and truly stuffed, so much so I wanted to unbutton my jeans. But instead, we were taken downstairs to the entrance where a giant Buddha stood. Within my invitation was a small piece of gold leaf which I was told to bring along on the night for a little ceremony to honour the Buddha. We were both invited to place a piece of the gold leaf onto the Buddha on an area of our choosing. This ritual is a huge part of the Thai culture as they believe this brings immense amounts of luck and good fortune. I opted for the cheek in the hope this would give me some self-confidence back when it comes to my appearance (and hopefully glowing skin too) so fingers crossed this works and I wake up soon with a radiant glow.
On the whole, I would rate our experience a good solid 8/10 – the food was delicious but the drinks often took a while to arrive and I did find the food a little pricey, however would happily pay the prices for a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary. Have you tried any of the new restaurants in Eldon Square recently, where would you recommend?