It’s been decades since a Sunday lunch just meant a huge roast with all the trimmings. We have travelled and our tastes are much broader. Some things remain the same though, at least for me. Good company and the Sunday lunch music with which I grew up.
It’s family time. We gather a group of friends and other loved ones for a convivial few hours of chatter and fine food. I remember that there was always music playing in the background as my mum would prepare the meal. In those days the music consisted of the current “hit parade” hits. Yes, we are talking about the ’50s and ’60s. And last Sunday was a re-run of those days in every regard…but the fine food was Thai and the venue was Mango Tree and a lot more impressive than my parent’s kitchen.
Mango Tree in Belgravia is a long way from the original branch back in Bangkok but it’s very close to Buckingham Palace, Victoria Station and Sloane Square Underground. You might to be rubbing shoulders with the folks from the Big House but your fellow diners are likely to be regulars who appreciate this smart restaurant with its memorable dishes.
The restaurant is a vision of warm red-brown teak. The tables are laid with silver chargers giving the air of a sumptuous eatery with ethnic hints. Mango Tree is confident in its enviable position as one of the most respected of Thai restaurants in London. It’s a contemporary space yet unmistakably exotic.
I wanted a light starter for my meal and so I chose Meung Cum. This is traditional Thai snack which is rather like vegetarian wraps. Betel nut leaves are smeared with a tamarind sauce. That base is then sprinkled with peanuts, delicate cubes of lime, ginger in tiny matching cubes, and chilli in vibrant red rings, red onion thinly chopped, golden toasted coconut and tiny dried shrimp. All served on a striking stand of components ready for each guest to role their own leafy morsel.
Mango Tree offers various menus and offers throughout the year. They have a Thai Salad Festival running till the end of the month (June 2011) and my guest took advantage of the grilled meat salad with its vibrant kebabs of chicken, beef and pork. A hearty plateful but it was a salad so my companion felt noble and healthy. I enjoyed a prawn tempura salad with a creamy dressing. The generous dish would be ideal for those who are anxious about spice.
Desserts are always a pleasure at Mango Tree. Thai cuisine offers a tantalising selection of fruit jellies and they are well worth trying. This restaurant lists Wun kra-ti mamuang – Fresh mango and coconut jellies set with agar agar. They make a visual impact of orange and white symmetry. The platter was reminiscent of a fruity Toblerone. Small peaks of perfumed sweetness. My guest was tempted by the Cake Ma-now – Lychee and lime flavoured cheese cake with lychee jelly. This was a light and moussey confection which was indeed enhanced by the jelly which was laced with shreds of ginger.
Mango Tree has several menus to suit both time and taste. A must try from the Al a Cart menu is the Massaman Gae – Massaman curry with lamb shank. The vegetarian menu has lots to entice those who are often given a raw and bland bill of fare at other establishments. I would suggest Gaeng Kiew Wan Pak – Thai pea aubergines with mixed vegetables and green curry as a full-on taste experience.
I visit some of the best restaurants the capital has to offer. There are those I enjoy and others that rank on my list of favourites. Mango Tree is the latter. Its staff are attentive and charming. They understand the food they serve and are always ready with informed advice. Thai food is more popular than ever but I, at least, am happy to have some experts on hand to guide me through those still unfamiliar dishes. Sunday lunch at Mango Tree was a delicious melange of comforting tradition and fabulous food. This could become a regular event.
Pre Theatre menu allows early diners to take advantage of great value meals: 2 courses £17 or 3 courses £22 from 6 – 7pm seating
Sunday special menu has lunch 3 courses £17.00 and dinner 3 courses £20.00
With Mango tree Fizz cocktail add £5.00. On Sunday from 12:00pm – 4:00pm and 6:00pm – 9:30pm
Monday – Wednesday: 12.00 noon – 3.00pm and 6.00pm – 11.00pm
Thursday – Saturday: 12.00 noon – 3.00pm and 6.00pm – 11.30pm
London Asian restaurant review: Mango Tree
46 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X 7EQ
Phone: 020 7823 1888
Fax: 020 7838 9275
Visit Mango Tree here
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018