I’m not sure whether it’s the arrival of winter weather on Tyneside or the fact that holiday memories from Thailand keep popping up on my Timehop app but I’ve had huge cravings for Thai food recently. My visit to Zaap certainly ticked the street food box but Thai dining can also be quite a classy affair you know! So, for a more sophisticated Thai experience I recommend Mantra Thai, one of the finest restaurants in Newcastle! Here’s a review of a recent visit to whet your appetite…
Mantra Thai has a reputation to be proud of, not only is it currently the most highly rated Thai eatery in Newcastle on TripAdvisor, but the review site also lists it as the 6th best place to eat (out of 944) in the entire city! Not bad eh?
The restaurant’s home is The Waterside Palace (the name of a Chinese restaurant which one resided in the same location) and can be found a short walk from Newcastle Central Station on Forth Banks, standing in the shadows of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. It also has its own free car park which is quite rare for a restaurant in the city centre!
James and I visited on a weekday evening and it was fairly quiet but the restaurant is huge so it’s perfect for big groups and family gatherings and I can imagine it really comes to life at weekends. The décor is simple and stylish, much more modern than I had anticipated and we were greeted by a smartly dressed maitre d’ with a warm smile.
Before I even looked at the food menu I spotted a sign advertising iced coffee and my taste buds started tingling straight away! I loved all the little coffee shops in Chiang Mai and iced coffee was a welcome treat after exploring the city in hot sun! The generously sized iced coffee I was served at Mantra Thai was just as good as those I’d enjoyed on holiday but I probably should have waited till after I’d eaten to have the cream filled beverage as it was somewhat filling!
It didn’t stop me going on to devour a mouthwatering starter and main course though. The evening menu was filled with a huge selection of classic dishes, from sharing platters, fresh salads and soups, to traditional Thai curries and stir-frys plus plenty of vegetarian options.
I played it safe by sticking to dishes I know and love, crispy Golden Parcels and a hearty Massaman Lamb Curry. My starter was light and very tasty, each little parcel was bursting with marinated chicken and prawn meat and there was plenty of sweet chilli sauce for dipping.
The massaman curry was perfect, the generous chunks of lamb meat were very tender and there was just the right amount of potatoes and cashew nuts so that every fork full contained a bit of each. The combination of tumeric, coconut milk, star anise, cardamon, cinnamon and chillies was beautifully balanced and despite being very filling, it still left me wanting more (I am such a greedy guts).
My partner James went for a starter of deep fried soft shell crab and for his main course, Lamb Shank in Penang Curry…
The crab is a bit pricey for a starter (£9.50) but it’s not something you often see on a menu so we couldn’t resist. Oh my word, it was divine, as wall as the unmistakable crab flavour, I could also taste garlic and black pepper. The dish was also served with a spicy tamarind sauce which I didn’t try as the crab was simply delicious by itself.
James’ main course looks huge doesn’t it? That’s because it was! The colours on the plate were vibrant and the aroma was mouthwatering. My other half assures me it was every bit as delicious as it looked!
We finished our meal with a refreshing dessert of lemon cheesecake which we shared as we were so full up. I was glad we ordered it though as is was the perfect end to a wonderful meal
My only little niggle with Mantra Thai was the music we had to tolerate throughout our visit… I’m not sure whether there was two different songs playing at once or whether the CD player was faulty but what we had to listen to sounded like cats dying. It was very off putting and kind of ruined the ambience but it actually gave us a bit of a laugh, especially as we couldn’t believe how oblivious the staff were to the musical mayhem! Despite their hearing problems, the waiters were lovely and very attentive.
I will definitely be heading back to Mantra Thai soon, that Massaman curry alone was enough to turn me in to a regular. If you’d like to find out what other classic dishes are on offer, you can check out the menu here: www.mantra-thai.co.uk. There are special offers for early dining and business lunches as well as a takeaway menu so you can enjoy Thai Mantra at home.