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The Lancaster London Hotel Peter Pan Afternoon Tea

Nipa Thai Restaurant

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The Lancaster London Hotel Peter Pan Afternoon Tea

Nipa Thai Restaurant

Nipa Thai Restaurant

A couple of decades ago a Thai restaurant was rare. It’s the advent of cheaper long-haul flights and more adventurous eating habits that has allowed this exciting and vibrant cuisine a foothold in London. Its flavours combine the whole available spectrum from sweet to spicy and everything in between.

asian restaurant review There are good Thai restaurants all over the capital and these days most high streets have an example. One of the best, however, is neatly tucked away inside the anonymous confines of the Lancaster London hotel at Lancaster Gate. The 1960 facade offers not a hint of the exotic opulence awaiting the diner on the first floor.

It might seem a bit cheeky to walk through those revolving doors into one of the smartest 5-star hotels in London. It is, however, a public restaurant open to passing trade as well as hotel guests. Just march past reception, turn to the left, up the stairs to the right and across the hall. You won’t miss Nipa. It has the most striking and elegant frontage of any restaurant. A vision of intricately carved teak which sets the scene for more of the same inside.

Nipa is the twin of the Nipa in Bangkok’s Landmark Hotel. Nipa is one of a small group of Thai restaurants in the UK to have received the “Thai Select” award from the Thai Government for restaurants achieving the highest standards of quality and cuisine. There are only 15 such award-holders in the UK. It’s the equivalent of a Thai Michelin star so we were assured of something special.

The charming manager of the London incarnation of Nipa, Mr. Kaseam Jongpitikrat, told us that Nipa was named after the owner’s wife and it means ‘pretty lady’. The restaurant takes on that characteristic, being one of the most attractive restaurants you will ever find. It gives the sense of an authentic wooden bungalow. It’s ornate with nooks displaying Thai crafts. It seats 60 or so and this creates an intimate ambiance. The floor-to-ceiling windows have one of the most enviable views in London. The Italian Gardens and the trees of Hyde Park will be the backdrop to your meal. The waiting staff are dressed in white costumes with gold sashes to add still further to the atmosphere.

asian restaurant and hotel review Head chef Ms. Nongyao Thoopchoi was one of the staff, along with Mr. Kaseam Jongpitikrat, who came from Bangkok to open London's Nipa in 1995. She and the other lady chefs of the Nipa kitchen are responsible for the preparation of this vibrant food from traditional recipes, each platter superbly garnished with carved fruit and vegetables. A touch of royal elegance.

Thai prawn crackers with real peppery bite were our nibbles as we perused the menu. You don’t need to be an expert on Thai cuisine. The staff are all Thai and are happy to advise you about the dishes that will best suit your taste. If in doubt then consider one of the set menus. Some dishes are fiery hot but others are more subtle.

The mixed starter platter gave us a selection of different small bites. Por Pia Tod - deep-fried spring rolls with glass noodles and crab meat, prawn-filled Beggars Purses, Tod Man Pla -Thai fish cakes with dipping sauce, and Chicken Satay with cucumber relish and one of the best peanut sauces I have had in ages. Rich and thick and I could eat a bowlful with a spoon. A must-try at Nipa.

asian restaurant and hotel review The first of our main courses arrived. The crab was a delight: Yum Ma Muang Poo Nim, crispy soft-shell crab with spicy mango salad. The batter was crunchy and more evident than that for, say, tempura but it was light and marvellously seasoned by the green mango, which gave freshness to the dish.

The stir-fried scallops with green asparagus - Nor Mai Fa Rang Phad Hoy Shell was a delicate dish. The texture of the bright vegetables was contrasted with the superbly cooked shellfish. A flavourful sauce bathed both components and was a garnish for the fluffy rice.

Thai Green Chicken Curry - Kaeng Kiew Warn Kai - was both spicy and aromatic. Full of white chicken with a creamy sauce. A typical Thai menu item but done well here. Yes, it’s a standard dish but it’s popular because this authentic Thai Green curry is remarkable, with depth of flavour and unctuous texture. The Nipa curry is doubtless a favourite with its many regular visitors.

Lychees were my dessert of choice as I love that distinctive perfumed taste - cool and a good digestive. My guest ordered the slightly more adventurous, delicious and strikingly red Tab Tim Krob - water-chestnuts coated with tapioca flour in coconut milk and syrup, served in a Martini glass. That has to be the perfect dessert to end a romantic Thai meal.

Nipa is award-winning and it’s easy to see why. There is casual elegance, charm and grace. We might not all be able to afford a trip to Thailand but an evening at the Royal Lancaster offers a few hours of tranquillity and lovely food.

Opening times:
Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat:
Lunch: 12:00pm - 2:00pm,
Dinner: 6:30pm - 10:30pm
Sun: 6:30pm - 10:30pm

Asian restaurant review: Nipa Thai Restaurant
1st Floor, Lancaster London Hotel, Lancaster Terrace, London W2 2TY
Phone: 020 7551 6039
Visit Nipa Thai Restaurant here
Mostly Food and Travel hotel and restaurant review

The Lancaster London Hotel Peter Pan Afternoon Tea

Peter is a seven-day-old infant who, "like all infants", used to be part bird. Peter has complete faith in his flying abilities, so, upon overhearing a discussion of his future adult life, he is able to escape through the window of his London home and return to Kensington Gardens. Well, who can blame him? He is, however, the only “infant” with such a history to be immortalised in bronze in his beloved Kensington Gardens, and in a book bearing his name.

hotel review This year sees the 150th anniversary of Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie's birth! He documented Peter’s adventures and gave all rights to his books to Great Ormond Street Hospital when he died in 1937. Peter is mischevious and iconic, and he conjures memories of a more innocent and quintessentially English world.

The bronze statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens is one of the most popular monuments in London. He stands along the west bank of the Long Water. This site has a particular importance for Peter Pan and was specially chosen by J M Barrie – an enchanted glade where often, I have heard tell, one can find a golden sheen of fairy dust. But where can one get a bag of good quality fairy dust these days? The 5-star Lancaster London Hotel near Lancaster Gate has a supply.

The Lancaster London is appreciated for its panoramic views over Hyde Park, the largest of London’s Royal Parks; and then there is London’s famous skyline to enjoy. It is one of the tallest buildings in this prestigious area, with over 18 floors. The Lancaster boasts a brace of popular restaurants including the exotic and elegant award-winning Nipa Thai restaurant, but our goal was the Lounge Bar to enjoy an oasis of calm and a traditional English Afternoon Tea with a difference. One might describe it as a tea with character.

Not only does this attractive hotel have an amazing location but it also has that fairy dust. It’s probable that they have cornered the market. Rather than keeping it to themselves the management have chosen to donate a bag of the precious commodity (OK, so it looks like nuggets of bread) to every teatime guest. They have even included a map so you can find your way to Hyde Park to feed the aforementioned fairy dust to the ducks.

hotel reviewThey do teatime so well at the Lancaster. The Lounge Bar is a vision of gold-hue carpet and dark wood. The bar area is an annex off the wide lounge area, which is lined with low tables, and the chairs and sofas are of the sleep-inducing comfort style. There is just a gentle buzz of discreet conversation from our fellow guests, some of whom were children utterly enthralled by the theatre of the event as well as the prospect of a glimpse of a particular lost boy. The ambiance is casually formal as one would expect and just right for a grown-up tea party.

The afternoon tea here is one of the most reasonable around. It has all the elements of the classic version but with thoughtful, not to mention delicious, extras. The tea table is laid with crisp white linen, sugar bowl, tea cups and plates, not forgetting the small pouches of the essential fairy dust. The traditional 3-tier silver stand arrives accompanied by squeals of delight from the smaller of the assembled guests. However many times I see such a display I am still excited. Nostalgia at its finest.

hotel reviewCrème Brulée isn’t a typical teatime item but here it is served as an Amuse Bouche before the main event. It was a Passion Fruit Crème Brulée served in a small taster ramekin. I trust this would be available in the Lancaster’s Island Restaurant along the hallway. It was a tangy stunner. One must have some savoury before the sweet so the lowest level of the stand housed the Lost Boy’s Sandwiches. These were a selection of Peanut Butter and Banana on wholemeal bread (sounds a strange combination but this really works), Smoked Chicken, Spring Onion and Mayonnaise on walnut bread; Egg Mayonnaise and Cress on herb bread. There were also miniature Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese scones with chives, and Cheese and Caraway scones with honey-roast ham and mustard. Little additions to the typical spread.
Scones are an essential part of any self-respecting tea, and the Lancaster offers Mrs Darling’s Scones (is this poetic licence or is the chef honestly called Mrs Darling?) These are served with strawberry jam or honey, and clotted cream. They were light and flaky scones and a good transition from the savoury sandwiches to the sticky sweetness of the delicately-executed fancy cakes garnishing the top layer of the stand.
As one would expect, these tarts, cookies and gateaux were labelled “Peter and Wendy’s favourite treats” and were a collection of strawberry mille-feuille, fresh fruit tarts, dark chocolate mousse, pecan tarts, Viennese shortbread and macaroons. All attractive and delicious, and helped down with several pots of hot jasmine and green tea.

One might not be able to “take tea” every day but The Lancaster provides a lovely venue for passing a few unhurried hours in the most perfect of surroundings. Great value for money for an exceptional experience.

The Peter Pan celebration tea is available in the hotel’s first floor Lancaster Lounge every day from 3pm until 5.30pm.

Lancaster London Hotel, Lancaster Terrace, London W2 2TY
Telephone: +44 207 551 6000
Visit The Lancaster here

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