The Mango Tree Thai restaurant is a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace. A stone’s throw in this case isn’t estate agent speak for a couple of miles away. The Palace’s garden wall is just across the road and literally a stone’s throw away, although to do such a thing might likely result in the cartographic speculator being run in by the constabulary.
This is smart Belgravia. Most of the area was originally owned by Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquis of Westminster, who had it developed in the early 1800s. The area takes its name from one of the Duke of Westminster’s other titles, Viscount Belgrave. The village of Belgrave, Cheshire, is just a short distance from the Grosvenor family’s main country seat of Eaton Hall. Belgravia became one of London’s most expensive residential areas and is now home to many embassies. Any restaurant here would need to be noteworthy.
This wasn’t my first visit to Mango Tree. I have enjoyed numerous dinners and also a Sunday lunch or two here. It’s a large but airy restaurant with a cosy bar at the entrance. Exotic cocktails might entice the diner to linger but there are equally engaging treats in the restaurant, which has been designed with consideration of the theory of feng-shui.
But there is a very contemporary accolade for Mango Tree. It’s been immortalised by J.K. Rowling in her latest crime novel ‘Silkworm’. Two of the characters are discussing another restaurant and one of them, we assume with the more refined palate, says ‘It’s not the Mango Tree, but it’s all right.’
Thai cuisine often demonstrates more subtle spicing than many dishes of the sub-continent, but its land mass and geography has allowed Thai regions to develop their own culinary style, and Mango Tree has a new Regional Menu that allows diners to taste dishes with which they might be less familiar. It’s an inspired notion and a delicious education.
A build-your-own starter
For the purposes of this special bill of fare, Thailand has been divided into North, North East, South and Central areas. A starter and a main dish from each region are available and they are as diverse as they are tempting. They are recognised as being rich and mild flavours from the North, spicy foods from the East, mild dishes influenced by Chinese cuisine from the Central region, and hot and robust plates from the South.
North Region Namprik Ong was the first of our starters. Minced prawn and chilli with sweet and sour ripened tomato sauce is served with fresh vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, iceberg lettuce, French beans, small Thai aubergines and crispy pork crackers. This classic, spicy dipping sauce confection is from the Chiang Mai area and is often included as part of the spread for celebrations. This is a build-your-own starter and ideal for sharing. The chilli is flavoursome rather than being overpowering.
Central Region Kiew Kai Tod was our second starter – deep-fried quail eggs wrapped in wonton sheet, served with spicy sweet chilli sauce were crispy morsels. That sauce is an essential part of the dish. These little egg kebabs would be a wonderful accompaniment to those aforementioned cocktails.
Luxurious celebratory dish
North Region Khao Soi was the first main dish to share – noodles cooked with coconut milk with legs of chicken, chilli oil, coriander, lime and red onion. This is a Burmese-influenced dish served widely in northern Laos and northern Thailand but with many variations. Mango Tree offers a refined soup with well-balanced flavour and light texture. If you like the more ubiquitous Massaman curry then you will love this.
North Eastern Region Sea Bass Moke was our other sharing plate – baked sea bass fillet with traditional North Eastern Thai herbs, lemongrass, galanga, garlic, lime leaf, fresh dill, sweet basil, and oyster and fish sauces. This is another luxurious celebratory dish and well worth ordering. The fish was succulent and beautifully presented, wrapped in leaves and wafting aromatic steam.
Mango Tree has never failed me. It continues to tick boxes for quality, freshness and elegance. The location is ideal for both locals and visitors alike. It’s near a host of tourist attractions but in a calmer spot. This is a restaurant which can boast regular diners as well as those who are newly intrigued by its literary celebrity. Those folks might initially come as it’s an evident favourite of Harry Potter’s mum; but they will return, as it will have become a favourite of theirs.
The traditional Taste of Thailand menu will run from 15th September until 15th November. To book email email@example.com
46 Grosvenor Place
Phone: 020 7823 1888
Fax: 020 7838 9275
Visit Mango Tree here
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018