MEAL REVIEW: Thai Vibe, Narrowgate, Alnwick

Vegetable spring rolls at Thai Vibe, Alnwick.
Vegetable spring rolls at Thai Vibe, Alnwick.

They say that good things come to those who wait. In my case, almost three decades!

I’m ashamed to say that despite being a lover of eating out, I had never before tried Thai food.

Crab rangoon.

Crab rangoon.

Thankfully all that changed on Saturday with a visit to Alnwick’s Thai Vibe.

And after sampling this type of cuisine for the first time, I can safely say I won’t be waiting another 29 years to eat my next meal from this part of Asia.

On top of that, another visit – or more likely, visits – to Thai Vibe will be on the menu. My partner and I have also recommended it to friends.

This wasn’t just beginner’s luck either. The couple on the table next to ours were return customers – itself a testament to the restaurant’s quality – and they spoke highly of a number of dishes on the menu that they had previously tried.

The sea bass at Thai Vibe, Alnwick.

The sea bass at Thai Vibe, Alnwick.

Alnwick is currently thriving when it comes to the restaurant scene – both in quality and quantity. Thai Vibe is very much a part of this high-standard offering, to both residents and visitors alike.

First impressions of the Narrowgate eatery are good. It oozes style and gives off a feel that no expense has been spared, including the addition of several classy-looking Thai figurines. It is a fairly small restaurant, but in no way feels cramped. In fact, its size, along with the lighting and background music, gives it an incredibly relaxed and intimate vibe.

Thankfully, the venue is more than just style. There’s a whole load of substance here too.

The first thing that struck me about the menu was that it was not overly big. But that is by no means a criticism. Sometimes too much choice can be to the detriment of a restaurant’s quality.

The presentation of the rice.

The presentation of the rice.

This, perhaps, is one of the reasons why Thai Vibe succeeds; the fact that it can concentrate on perfectly executing its concise selection of starters and mains.

Besides, both my partner and I were torn between several options, with meat, fish and vegetarian options available.

As it was, I went for the crab rangoon (£5); a set of crispy wantons filled with crab stick, cream cheese, garlic, chives and black pepper, served with plum sauce.

The wantons were certainly crispy, but not greasy, while the filling was delicious; delicate and balanced.

The marinated Northumbrian beef.

The marinated Northumbrian beef.

On the other side of the table were vegetable spring rolls (£5.50).

The dish consisted of wok-fried noodles, leeks, carrots, white cabbage and coriander paste, seasoned with light soya sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil, wrapped in spring-roll pastry and served with a sweet-and-sour chilli sauce and garnished with crispy shredded sweet potato.

There certainly was no skimping on the filling inside the crunchy spring rolls, while the chilli sauce had a kick to it. It was too hot for me – but I have no tolerance for heat – but my partner, who enjoys spicy food, was more than happy with its punch.

For the main course, my partner went for the grilled beef with traditional spicy tamarind sauce (£12.50).

The marinated Northumbrian meat came with round lettuce, diced tomatoes, cucumber and shallots with a roasted aromatic rice, chilli and tamarind sauce.

My partner was asked how she wanted her beef and it came out as she had asked, medium. The sauce was flavoursome.

Inside Thai Vibe.

Inside Thai Vibe.

I went for the steamed sea bass. The fish fillet came with ginger, shiitake mushrooms and soya sauce, garnished with sliced leek and red chilli with traditional Thai seafood sauce and blanched broccoli.

The first thing that hit me was how incredibly fragrant the dish was. It came with two huge pieces of broccoli and the fish tasted fresh and incredibly meaty.

Both mains came with rice; mine was steamed, my partner’s sticky.

One stand-out feature of the restaurant was the presentation of the dishes, while the service was first-class.

The wait between courses was nicely spaced and the owner was incredibly friendly and was more than happy to take the time to chat.

We didn’t have a dessert, but for two courses each, coupled with two glasses of house white wine and a bottle of Singha beer, the meal came to just over £44, which I think is reasonable for what came our way. The restaurant doesn’t take cards at the moment, but this was explained over the phone when I booked the meal.

RESTAURANT PROVING A HIT WITH PUNTERS

Thai Vibe has certainly proved popular with punters on review website, TripAdvisor. With a total of 49 reviews, the Alnwick eatery has been given the top mark of excellent by 39 reviewers. The other 10 have given it the next best rating (very good). One happy customer described it as a ‘lovely wee place with fab Thai food’, while another has called it ‘a gem of a place’. As well as indoor seating, Thai Vibe also has an outdoor area.

SELECTION FROM THE MENU

STARTERS

Thai-dip oyster mushroom and smoked haddock......£5

Chicken coconut soup......£6

Papaya salad......£7.25

Spicy seafood salad......£7.50

MAINS

Thai chicken green curry......£10.50

Crispy salmon fillet with red curry sauce......£10

Phad Thai with king prawns......£10.50

Stir-fried mixed vegetables......£8.50

DESSERTS

Banana fritters with coconut ice-cream......£5.25

Creme caramel served with kiwi slices......£4.50

Chocolate lava served with banana cake and vanilla ice cream......£6

Fruit salad with Grand Marnier......£4.50

STAR RATINGS (out of 10)

Quality of food......8.5

Choice......7

Vegetarian choice......5

Value for money......8

Atmosphere......8

Use of local food......6

Service......8

Access for disabled......Yes

Toilet for disabled......There is one toilet which has ample space. There is one step on the way to the toilet though.

Overall rating......9

Verdict: Thai Vibe has it all. Tasty food, well presented and at a reasonable price.

Contact: 01665 606332.

The new Thai Vibe restaurant on Narrowgate.

The new Thai Vibe restaurant on Narrowgate.