MEAL REVIEW: Nadon Thai, Newgate Street, Morpeth

Thai barbecue pork
Thai barbecue pork

Dishes devoured and taste-buds tickled – we sat at our table like two fat Buddhas. And I don’t just mean because our bellies were big and protruding after a two-course meal at Nadon Thai.

No. Just like the Laughing Buddha, we were every bit content, satisfied, happy and full of good fortune. And this was all thanks to the delicious, authentic cuisine we sampled at this fine Morpeth eatery.

Sticky rice and coconut rice

Sticky rice and coconut rice

I say good fortune for two reasons. The first – and most important, Nadon Thai is quite simply, superb. Secondly, because I had stumbled across this restaurant through sheer (good) luck.

Confession time! I’d never heard of it until a stab in the dark Google search of ‘best places to eat in Morpeth’ brought up the Newgate Street venue, together with a five-star rating from diners who had sampled its exquisite offering before us. Impressive stuff! And it delivered.

They say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and that is very much the case for Nadon Thai. It’s appearance from the outside has a bit of a blink-and-you-might-miss-it feel about it, as it is located on the first floor above a fish and chip shop. As a result, you enter via a door next to the chippy before climbing a set of stairs to get to the restaurant.

But don’t be put off by this underwhelming start. Inside, the restaurant is smart and cosy. Thai-themed figurines and images adorn the walls, while the attentive and friendly staff wore Thai dress. A nice touch.

King prawn blankets

King prawn blankets

So, what about the food? First off, the menu is extensive, but this doesn’t seem to impact on the quality.

Starters include soups and Thai-style salads, as well as the likes of prawn crackers, satay chicken and a mixed platter (minimum order two), among an array of other dishes to kick off the meal. On the mains list are noodle/fried-rice-based dishes, curries and Thai stir fries, as well as a number of set menus and side orders. I always plump for meat or fish at a restaurant, but I noted that there was an abundance of vegetarian options.

To start, I opted for the king prawn blankets (tiger prawns wrapped in light crispy pastry and deep-fried, served with plum sauce), while my companion chose Thai barbecue pork moo yang (pork loin marinated with Thai seasoning and served with fresh cucumber, lettuce and house spicy sauce). Both were £4.95.

My dining partner followed her starter with beef with black pepper (stir-fried strips of beef with peppers in a cracked black-pepper sauce), priced £8.50, accompanied by sticky rice (£2.50). I had duck curry (roasted duck simmered in red curry sauce with coconut milk, tomatoes, basil, pineapple, lychees and peppers), priced £11.25, and coconut rice (£2.50).

Duck curry

Duck curry

To drink, my dining partner had a Jack Daniel’s and coke, while I ordered a bottle of Lucky Buddha – which was a crisp, drinkable lager, but slightly lacking oomph. The quirky Lucky Buddha beer bottle features the seated Laughing Buddha holding a gold ingot above his head.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of the Laughing Buddha, my dining partner was at great pains to point out that she doesn’t have a big and protruding belly, as stated in the introduction of this piece. This was simply poetic licence!

Anyway, back to business. One of the things that impressed us was the presentation of the food – it was top notch and clearly lovingly prepared. And the nosh was every bit as good as it looked.

The pastry on my starter was incredibly crispy – my dining partner remarked that she could hear me crunching from across the table – and it wasn’t in the slight bit greasy.

Beef with black pepper

Beef with black pepper

The only criticism was that the flavour of the prawns was somewhat drowned out by the pastry. As nice as the pastry was, I would have liked a bit more taste from the fish.

The starter on the other side of the table was divine. The pork was thickly-cut, moist and rich. The spicy sauce, with its dark and intense flavour, was a fine accompaniment.

On to the mains, and the beef was flavoursome, while the duck was plentiful, nicely cooked and thankfully not fatty, and the sauce – which had a runny consistency – was delicate, with a subtle spicy kick. The veg was crunchy and the coconut rice was indulgent and moreish.

We were too full for desserts, but puddings included vanilla fried ice-cream and sticky-toffee pudding, as well as hot drinks/liquors.

I wanted to refrain from any more Buddha references, however! The Lucky Buddha is said to have had a jolly smile. We were grinning from ear to ear after this fine meal.

INFORMATIVE MENU IS WELCOME

Inside Nadon Thai, Morpeth.

Inside Nadon Thai, Morpeth.

Having a father who is highly allergic to nuts, it was welcome to see that Nadon Thai mentions which dishes contain nuts. This is an important touch. The menu also informs the diner which dishes are gluten free, vegetarian and how spicy a course is. As well as the evening menu, Nadon Thai offers a Happy Hour from 5.30pm to 6.30pm daily, and a seven-days-a-week takeaway menu.

SELECTION FROM THE MENU

Starters

Spare ribs in red wine sauce......£4.95

Sweetcorn cakes......£4.25

Fisherman’s soup......£5.50

Spicy chicken salad......£6.25

Mains

Sweet/sour with veg/tofu......£7.25

Green curry with pork......£8.25

Jungle curry with prawns......£9.50

Drunken noodles with beef......£8.25

Duck with black pepper......£11.25

Seabass choo chee...... £12.95

Tamarind prawns......£9.50

Noodles/Rice

Steamed Thai jasmine rice......£1.80

Egg fried rice......£2.95

Side Orders

Pak choi oyster......£4.95

Pan-fried rice noodles......£2.95

Set Menus

For two or four......£17.50 per person

STAR RATINGS (out of 10)

Quality of food......8½

Presentation......8

Choice......8

Vegetarian choice......8

Atmosphere......8

Use of local food......1 (It didn’t say on the menu, apart from using ice-cream from Tyne and Wear-based Beckleberry’s.)

Service......8

Disabled access......1 (the restaurant is on the first floor, with access via stairs).

Toilet for disabled......No

Overall rating......8½

Verdict: This delicious Thai is well worth a visit.

Contact: 01670 458151 or visit www.nadonthai.co.uk

The previous Northumberland Gazette Eating Out column reviewed Carlo’s Fish and Chip Restaurant, Alnwick. And if you missed it, here is a link to the Gazette’s top tips of 2014.