Monday 4 August 2014


Dinner at The Noodle House

Shaftesbury Avenue in London is mainly known for the wealth of theatres located on the famous street, but there is an eclectic mix of restaurants to pick from too - which are perfectly located for a pre-theatre meal or some after-theatre drinks.

The Noodle House opposite the Palace Theatre caters to both, as it has a restaurant (which even does a special pre-theatre menu) and a separate cocktail bar located in the same venue.

We went for a pre-theatre visit and the incredibly quick service and turn-around meant that after finishing our meal we still had plenty of time to catch our 7.30pm play afterwards.

My guest and I ordered both a starter and a main each, but because of the policy at the restaurant - they serve the food whenever it's ready, regardless of which part of the menu you ordered it from - it arrived out of order.

This meant that while my friend had both two dishes and a drink waiting for her on the table, my entire order was still to come. Of course she couldn't wait too long, as that would mean her food would've gone cold, and so she started ahead of me.

Pad Thai is a classic South East Asian dish and the fact that there were different varieties on the menu, made it a perfect main for a vegetarian such as her. Rice noodles, beansprouts, eggs, peanuts, chilli and tangy tamarind sauce were complimented well by the broccoli and crispy tofu, and she ended up polishing off her plate.

The vegetable spring rolls she chose for her starter were another winner. The crispy hand-made rolls were large, bursting with flavour and she was particularly fond of the sweet soy dipping sauce it was accompanied by. So much so, that she even consumed some of the dip with her Pad Thai.

The first of my dishes to arrive was the Sweet & Sour. I'd opted for the crispy chicken, which was served with the sweet & sour sauce, wok-fried peppers and spring onions. While I liked the vegetables and the spicy flavour of the sauce, the chicken was unfortunately disappointing. Dry and hard it was difficult to separate and even harder to chew.

I was very glad then that the waitress had suggested I order a side, as on its own the Sweet & Sour was far too heavy and meaty. I chose the vegetable Fried Rice, which was a flavoursome wok-fried jasmine rice with peas, sweet corn, carrots and mangetout. It was absolutely delicious and I would've happily devoured the entire plate if I wasn't already getting quite full at this point.

My starter (while arriving after my main it wasn't much later so I tried these at the same time) was a generous plate of gorgeous Si Racha Prawns. The tempura style prawns were served with the restaurant's divine signature spicy mayo (which definitely lived up to its name) and were perfectly crispy and delicious.

To finish the meal only I couldn't withstand the temptation of the chocolate fondant with ice cream, but after having a taste of my delectable dessert, my friend ended up ordering one for herself too! Still warm and beautifully gooey on the inside, this was perhaps not a typical treat for an Asian restaurant but it was cooked very well and for us worth the visit alone.

With a cocktail bar in the basement there is a plethora of delicious sounding alcoholic drinks to pick from on the menu as well, like the one pictured above. The two sugary sweet ice cubes in the glass provide the fruity flavour to the cocktail, whereas the bottle of alcohol on the right gives it a boozy kick. You can combine the two and the longer you wait - and the more the ice cubes have melted - the sweeter your drink will be; a very fun concept.

The establishment's policy to serve dishes whenever they are ready, makes this a great place to go to share platters with a group of friends. Don't get too focussed on what is supposed to be a main and what is supposed to be a starter, but just take the food as it comes and enjoy the tempting spicy flavours of Asia (and a very French, but not any less delicious, chocolate fondant).

The Noodle House, 117 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8AD.

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