Review – Charm Thai at The Marlborough
The Marlborough on Princes Street has one of the most eclectic clientele in Brighton and Hove. A host of the city’s demographic can be found here on a Friday night: theatre goers, performers, DJs, students and the LGBT community. They all cram into the pub’s two bar areas, eager to sample the bustling and loud atmosphere of this popular Brighton boozer.
This Drink In Brighton venue is pushing out all the stops to get the once renowned kitchen (if you missed a Marly roast circa 2006, shame on you) back up and running, this time allowing Charm Thai to take over on Friday nights and weekday lunchtimes. Will this cuisine sit well with the bustling bar life?
Charm Thai is headed up by Ramida, affectionately known as the ‘Queen of Curry’ in her hometown of Phuket, Thailand. With an emphasis on fresh and authentic cooking, Ramida and the team are keen to let you know where you can find the real deal in Brighton, quoting “we only use the finest ingredients, authentic Thai herbs and spices, and locally sourced produce. I serve food that I would compare to the finest restaurants that you will find in Thailand.”
Ramida clearly likes to keep things simple, offering a selection of three or four appetisers and the same amount of mains to choose from. Standard Thai favourites are there, including Pad Thai and Khao Pad Sapparod (pineapple fried rice).
We chose the Charm Mixed Platter – a selection of Southern Thai street food specials (£9.95 for two) to begin and the Chicken Gang Kaew Wan (Green Curry) – cooked in coconut milk with young bamboo shoots, green beans and red pepper (£7.95) and Massaman Curry – slow cooked prime beef with onions, carrots and baby potatoes in a fragrant star anise, cardamom and cassia bark-infused sauce (£9.95) to share for main.
Squid isn’t an easy seafood to get right, a second too long in the pan and it turns to rubber. I’m pleased to say that Cham Thai’s was light, bouncy and coated in a well-seasoned batter. However, the chilli dipping sauce could have done with more kick and was slightly globulous in texture. The chicken was sublimely tender and delicious dipped in the equally as good peanut satay, but the warm sweetcorn fritters were far too chewy and overly sweet. A mixed starter indeed.
Our main dishes fared better. Nicely presented in a cute, round bowl and topped with torn Thai basil leaves, our Green Curry was awash with vegetables: red, green and yellow pepper, courgette, green beans, mushroom and carrot. In this mix were chunks of soft, succulent chicken, all floating in a thin, creamy sauce.
Once piled on top of a heart-shaped round of well-cooked jasmine rice, the curry was slightly too mild. A good injection of green chilli would have had a serious impact and brought to life some of the flavours of the vegetables. Enjoyable however.
The beef massaman by contrast was very, very good. Dark, thick and almost sweet, this dish blew the green curry out the water. Swimming with tender, melt-in-the-mouth beef and perfectly cooked potatoes, the rich massaman was the standout of our meal.
The Marlborough is one of Brighton and Hove’s better pubs and I sincerely hope that the kitchen revamp brings even more punters through the door. Be warned however, this isn’t the place for a quiet and cosy meal for two; the busy bar drowns out conversation. I would recommend Charm Thai if you’re on the lookout for a convenient, filling and quick meal pre-theatre or pre-drinking session.
Charm Thai serves at The Marlborough every Friday evening between 6-10pm.
Words and images by Claire Beveridge.
Claire’s food was complimentary courtesy of The Marlborough and Drink In Brighton.