It was London Restaurant Week recently, during which set £15 lunch and £25 dinner menus were on offer at top restaurants around the capital. Fellow food blogger Charmaine from tasty treats! and I decided to join forces and visit Australian chef David Thompson’s Michelin-starred Thai restaurant Nahm.
We were both extremely excited about going. In fact, I’d forgotten to check reviews on-line before the trip, which was, in retrospect, a mistake. I’m laughing out loud as I read them. Charmaine and I initially thought the quality of the food might have been affected by the fact that it was London Restaurant Week. From the reviews I’ve subsequently read, however, Nahm simply appears to be consistently below standard. And it’s a Michelin-starred restaurant…
Mid-week lunchtime, and the restaurant was less than a third full. The service was overly pretentious and not particularly friendly. Not a single Thai person was to be seen (perhaps there were Thai chefs in the kitchen), while explanations of each dish were garbled and delivered with a heavy South African accent.
The menu was peculiar too, with starters, mains and desserts, none of which were designed to be eaten as part of a shared meal. According to Nahm’s website, the dishes are supposed to be based on Thai street and market food, hence the ’single plate food’.
What I ordered:
Charmaine ordered a starter of coconut cup cakes with red curry of crab and Thai basil, while I chose the prawn and toasted coconut on betel leaves – there were only 4 starters to choose from. Her main was the spicy green papaya salad with sweet pork and coconut rice, while I chose the red curry of minced sea bass with wild ginger and green peppercorns.
The meal started off promisingly enough. We were presented with an amuse-bouche of some kind of dried shrimp paste served with small segments of pineapple and tangerine, which were delicious. Starters came with verbal eating instructions. I was told to use my hands and wrap the betel leaf around the contents. Charmaine was also told to use her hands, except that the cup cakes fell apart in our hands. Both were unusual, although I thought the red curry part of the coconut cup cake to be overly strong in flavour, and come to think of it, I can’t remember tasting any prawn in my starter either!
Nahm really failed when it came to the mains. Considering how much emphasis had been placed on presentation, my curry arrived in a huge bowl, with another equally sized bowl of rice (enough for three!). To be honest, I thought the Goan fish curry at Waitrose (£3.59) to be far superior to Nahm’s offering. The curry completely drowned out the flavour of the sea bass, although the same would have happened to any other type of fish. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t spectacular and for a Michelin star, I expected much more. Charmaine’s papaya salad looked very pretty, but it consisted of far too many elements and flavours that didn’t combine very well.
Lunch with 12.5% service charge and £2 ‘optional donation’ to London Child brought the total to £17.90 per person. Two lunch courses would normally have cost £20, while three would be £26. I’m so glad Charmaine was brave enough to order tap water, as it would have been too galling to fork out for outrageously priced bottled water from half-way across the world. What a disappointing lunch. On the upside though, it was an opportunity for Charmaine and I to finally meet up!
10 – Perfection, 9.5 – Sensational, 9 – Outstanding, 8.5 – Superb, 8 – Excellent, 7.5 – Very Good, 7 – Good, 6.5 – Above Average, 6 – Average
All the London restaurant reviews on World Foodie Guide
Contact details: Nahm The Halkin Hotel 5 Halkin Street London SW1X 7DJ Tel: 020 7333 1234 www.nahm.como.bz