It was a sad day indeed when the legendary Blue Elephant shut its doors in Fulham Broadway (our previous glowing reviews are here and here). It had been long known for its excellent food, served in extremely exotic surroundings (it had a Koi river, people!) and was a bit of an institution. However, a collective sigh of relief was breathed when they reported they weren’t closing down, but simply moving premises, to a riverside location in Imperial Wharf, conveniently, for me at least, just a stone’s throw from my face. Obviously, I had to go check it out.
The new venue has a totally different vibe from the last. What was once dense jungle, dark woods, scattered flowers and flowing water is now much more slick, elegant and pared back. The ambience is undeniably exotic, and very Thai: you still feel like you’re on holiday (there’s plenty of light, and although no koi river, the actual Thames is right outside), but you feel more like you’re in a 5 star restaurant than a rainforest.
The looks may have changed, but in substance the Blue Elephant is just the same as ever. This food is expensive, but it is top notch, expert and creative Thai cuisine, full of delicious, fresh and surprising flavours and the cocktail list is the perfect exotic complement. We kicked off proceedings with the fantastically refreshing (and fairly potent) Golden Ice Tea and the sweet ‘n’ sharp Passionfruit Mojito, before cleansing our palates with the complementary Tom Kah Soup amuse bouche. I always find an amuse bouche a nice touch (particularly when you’ve spent a fortune on the main) and the soup did not disappoint. Although not the most inventive soup, it was coconut smooth, yet sharp and zingy – you can buy this as a starter dish, so I’d definitely recommend it.
The starters were certainly adventurous: we ate wild catch tiger prawn and crispy catfish and mango salad. The prawns were really spot on, and the chilli mango element of my salad was really delicious, however, there seemed to be a bit much crispy and not enough catfish for my tastes. Still: in principle a gorgeous dish, and I hope I was just a bit unlucky.
But if I didn’t get enough fish in my starter, my main certainly made up for it. My Pla Rad Prik (deep fried whole seabass topped with garlic, chilli, sweet basil and red curry paste) was huge, packed with meat and flavour. Although it didn’t come with any accompaniments, there was enough flavours and textures in that dish to set you up for the evening alone. The boy’s lamb chops with red rice stir fry, wild basil, garlic and black pepper was also quite an exciting dish: very spicy, but full of contrasting and interesting tastes.
The bill did come in at rather a lot, but the Blue Elephant still serves the finest and most exciting Thai food I’ve tasted in West London. The riverside location feels elegant and gracefully luxurious (even if it lacks the wow factor of the previous premises), and for a special occasion I can still give it a wholehearted thumbs up.
The Blue Elephant
London SW6 2UB