Usually, when it comes to making plans or choosing a restaurant, Steak is about as useful as a waterproof teabag. My simple questions of “Where would you like to go?” or “What type of food would you like to eat?” are often met by a response of “Somewhere good” or “I don’t mind”, leaving me to scour the restaurant map for anything and everything in sight. Occasionally however, she does do the work for me – often by suggesting restaurants and cafes that are conveniently located in close proximity to her university. (How conveniently convenient. For her).
One such suggestion was the Islington branch of Thai Square, which promises to deliver authentic Thai cuisine – allegedly formulated using “fresh ingredients flown in daily from Thailand”. Such a bold claim gives Thai Square all it needs to attract a wide range of customers – from flocks of Thai-food enthusiasts, to violent mobs of angry environmentalists. Whether London’s need for a second runaway is solely due to Thai Square’s supposed supply schedule, I cannot say, but I can tell you whether their popularity holds any merit. Please note: only the chicken is halal at Thai Square Islington, and the halal status may vary at other branches. Opening hours also vary between weekdays and weekends. Alcohol is served on the premises.
As is always the case when visiting a Thai restaurant, Steak squealed “chicken satay!” before the waitress had even handed the menu to us. (Some people feed their drug addiction, others just feed on chicken satay). The skewers of satay that arrived were slightly smaller than expected, but were soft, flavoursome, of a reasonably good quality, and well-cooked. The accompanying peanut sauce meanwhile, was pleasantly thick in consistency, with contrasting crunchy pieces within. Strangely however, rather than a conventional sweet touch, it possessed a slight tang, which was wholly unexpected, but pleasant nonetheless.
For mains, I opted for a helping of sweet and sour chicken stir-fry, with an accompanying side of egg noodles. The sweet and sour chicken carried a subtle sweetness and a strong dominant tang, which was reinforced by the handful of pineapple pieces within, and the juicy bursts they delivered. As for the chicken pieces themselves – they were of a good to average quality, with a soft and tender texture that contrasted well with the crunchy peppers. Equally satisfying were the egg noodles, which possessed a soft, thick and dense texture that was complemented by a garnish of crunchy bean sprouts.
Sweet and sour chicken
Once Steak had eaten her half of the chicken satay (and cleaned off the plate, the wooden skewers, and any air that had come into contact with them), she moved on to her main course of chicken red curry and steamed rice. The curry gravy was thick and creamy in consistency, with a wonderfully deep flavour that was soaked up instantly by the soft and slightly sticky steamed rice. The chicken pieces however, were far too tough and overcooked, and detracted greatly from the overall calibre of the dish.
Value For Money: 2.5/5
Our helping of chicken satay cost £6.95, whilst both the red curry and sweet and sour stir-fry cost £9.25. Generally starters range from £2-£7 for single items, to £14 for platters, whilst main courses cost between £9-£15. Relative to the quality, quantity, and calibre of the food, I do feel that Thai Square is a little pricey for its worth. By no means will it shatter your finances or earn you a death threat from your accountant, but for the same price, you can certainly find more exciting Thai food elsewhere.
As the only customers in the restaurant at the time, we received the undivided attention of our waitress, who was incredibly friendly and welcoming. Service was also remarkably prompt – though, perhaps only because the staff had nothing else to do.
For a relatively casual eatery, Thai Square’s decor goes above and beyond expectations, and actually took me by surprise. The entire restaurant carries a modern and polished look, with cold stone walls juxtaposed amongst warm wooden elements, and a mixture of simple and embellished ornaments distributed throughout. It’s a rather attractive set-up, and together with the leather-laden chairs, you’re guaranteed to have a comfortable experience. The restaurant is a quick ten-minute walk away from Angel station, and public transport is recommended, as parking spaces in the local area can be difficult to come by.
Despite the fact that the restaurant was emptier than Jeremy Hunt’s fan-club, the ambience remained relatively comfortable and stimulating, with only a slight touch of awkwardness. (Think “bumping into an old acquaintance on public transport”, rather than “spilling tea onto your father-in-law’s crotch”). One can certainly imagine that it’s far more enthralling during the evening bustle.
With a homely manner of service, an alluring interior decor, and a satisfying selection of food, Thai Square is a perfectly reasonable destination, should you ever find yourself tired and hungry whilst in Angel. Proximity is however, the only real reason that would justify paying them a visit, because as satisfying as our meal was, I do feel that it lacked a certain sense of excitement. That is not to say that I expected the chicken satay to start tap-dancing. Rather, it is to say that when it comes to food and food alone, Thai Square doesn’t really offer anything that is significantly more memorable or captivating than any other average Thai eatery. Consequently, it’s a restaurant that I would consider to be worth paying a visit, but it’s not one that I would go out of my way to return to.
Address: 347-349 Upper Street, London N1 0PD
Telephone: 0207 704 2000