Now I'm very aware that those of you who are happily (or even unhappily single) have absolutely no desire whatsoever to hear some over-gushing blogger wax lyrical about her perfect Valentine's evening, so I'll leave it at this: Boy - you did goooooood.
And for those of you with a secret Bridget Jones-eque desire for Valentines to be a bit of a flop for anyone the slightest bit loved up... Well, I've got a pretty good peace offering for you too. I pretty much ruined Valentines by spewing, several times, at Blue Elephant, Fulham.
I'd just like to caveat that I really don't think this was the food, which was, as always, bloody divine (not for nothing this joint is a firm favourite of mine). But merely because, stupid Jess, I went to my Valentine's meal CHRONICALLY hungover. Not a good start I know... who does that? But anyway, let me assure you, the 3 courses I managed to sample of this 5 course extravaganza were absolutely delicious.
I've only been to Blue Elephant a few times, but it really is quite a magical place for me. I've documented my love of anywhere with a theme before, and this place really is like a much better version of the Rainforest Cafe. Adding in those crucial grown up factors of beautifully cooked, beautifully presented food, and substituting the plastic, robotronic animals and half-hourly "thunderstorms" of the Rainforst Cafe for a wonderfully balanced mix of dark woods, foliage, a koi river and even a miniature floating market... Blue Elephant really does get you on all your senses. And did I mention I LOVE Thai food, and I LOVE anywhere themed....
We booked in for the obligatory 5 course set menu and kicked off the evening with cocktails. I rather predictably went for a Mai Tai, which was pretty much on the money, and presented with the typical Blue Elephant flourish. The boy was feeling a bit more adventurous and I'm glad he was, as I'd never tried the absolutely gorgeous mango and chilli martini otherwise. It really was a fantastic mixture, drawing inspiration from Thai cuisine in a way I hadn't seen applied to drinks before. It was a really great balance although we perhaps took it down a bit too slow as those final dregs were pretty darn spicy!
The first course of three amuse bouche arrived. As with many Thai restaurants, the Blue Elephant sets a lot of store by presentation. Luckily, the taste was just as good. The trio consisted of Soup Bai Toey - coconut cream soup flavoured with pandanus leaves, Chor Muang -steamed floral dumplings with butternut pea flour and an exotic stuffing & Yam Saparod - pineapple and spring onion salad. The triumph of the three was the dumpling, which had a lovely thick consistency and tasted slightly peanutty, although the balance of flavours in the salad and the delicate yet creamy soup were also pretty special.
I'm glad my little bout of illness didn't set in until after the starter platter, and I thought all these were the highlight of the meal. My favourite was the Yam Mamuang Ped Rom Kwam -a spicy little basket of Thai green mango salad, with smoked duck portions and crushed peanuts. I also loved the Pia Yang Ta-Krai - grilled salmon skewers with a mint and coriander sauce. I was intrigued by the Thai Foie Gras but I have to say I don't like foie gras at the best of times, and while I applaud them for trying to add their own twist to a classic, I didn't enjoy it. Less adventurous, but also pretty tasty, were the prawn cake and chicken and crab dumpling that rounded off the starters.
But aren't they laid out so beautifully.....
I confess I basically didn't eat any of the mains. I think spice on an unsettled stomach was really taking it's toll by this point. The boy said they were all delicious, particularly the Beef Massaman and the Giant King Prawn with tamarind sauce. However on the whole, the selection of mains and accompaniments were slightly less adventurous than the first few courses. Also served were:
Kai Himmapan - a medley of chicken, deep fried taro, onion and cashew nuts in the Chef's secret sauce
Poo Nim Pirot - Crispy soft shell crab flavoured with fiery chilli and Krachai Root
Kron Karn Luang Garden - wok fried vegetables in soy
Ba-Mee Thok - green wonton noodles tossed with garlic oil, chicken flakes and shrimps
Koo Klong - steamed and jasmine rice
I begun to feel better in time for puddings - I swear it's true that your sweets are stored separately in your stomach from your savourys - and again the restaurant rounded off with a selection of mini-bites. Mango sorbet, belgian chocolate mousse (divine!), raspberry macaroon and mixed Thai fruit. All were really tasty and I love having a selection of sweets to round things off - it makes me feel like a naughty little girl going wild in a candy shop!
So although my evening was slightly ruined by feeling so poorly - something totally out of the restaurants control, and they couldn't have been more lovely when they realised I was having to frequent the ladies whilst clutching my stomach more often than the average diner - I can definitely heartily recommend. The service is great (although at one point we did have to order tap water twice before receiving it), the food and presentation gorgeous, the setting AMAZING. 5 stars.
3-6 Fulham Broadway
Nearest tube: Fulham Broadway
The Valentine's Menu was £79 per head, excluding drinks