When the invite landed in my inbox I was more than a little thrilled to see it was an invite to the relaunch of Chaophraya my favourite Thai restaurant. Which I am thrilled to tell you now occupies the ground floor with the Palm Sugar Lounge Bar as well as the first floor restaurant.
I must admit I haven’t been for one of their incredible feasts for at least 2 years! Thats what being out of the dating game does for you, I must rectify that, perfect excuse to eat my way round Leeds!
A little history of the brand
Founded in Leeds in 2005, Chaophraya now has five sites in major cities, including Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. The latest Chaophraya recently opened in Glasgow in one of the city’s most prestigious buildings making it the biggest Thai restaurant in Europe.
The brand Chaophraya (pronounced Chao-pi-ya) takes its name from the main waterway in Thailand. In ancient times this river breathed life into the families who lived along its banks. Today the river is still regarded as part of the essence of Thailand, which is where they take their inspiration from.
“Palm Sugar Lounge, Chaophraya’s new downstairs bar, is a sophisticated setting for the city’s social scene. Its already one of the busiest bars in Liverpool and Glasgow, and is now set to raise the bar for the Leeds social scene with artistic cocktail makers on hand and an interior which fuses traditional Thailand with modern glamour.”
So back to Thursday and to say it was somewhat of a rush is an understatement, a crazy day at work followed by a dash around the new Topshop in the city centre left me extremely hungry and gagging for a drink. As I raced to meet Amy all I could think about was the Pad Thai they create at Chaophraya and I can tell you when I arrived I was not disappointed.
I have always wanted to walk a red carpet, and not one at a wedding, but a snazzy one with security and a policy of “if your name is not down you ain’t coming in” thrilled I was, you can imagine when I was confronted by the sea of beautiful lights and a red carpet leading into the stunning new restaurant entrance – helped immensely by the fact that we were on the list!
Welcoming the guests were the most exquisitely dressed women, in traditional Thai outfits beckoning us through the doors with a plethora of jewel coloured drinks. Once through the welcoming parade it took me a moment to really take in the size of the place, I’ve always been used to arriving up a flight of stairs, but this is far more grand, the fantastically stocked marble bar was staffed by knowledgeable and hugely efficient staff dressed in crisp white shirts.
My cocktail was a blend of fruits and spices an topped off nicely with champagne, and a flourish of mint and strawberries. Amy and I sat people watching for a good 20 minutes taking in the glamorous girls and dashing chaps flooding into the palatial bar area.
Then onward upstairs we decided, the staircase is the most sensational mix of glass and dark cherry wood and leads you up to the stunning restaurant area, laid out almost identically to the last time I had visited, although clearly had been spruced up and now offers a more glamorous place to eat. Glass bi-fold doors open onto a patio that even in the last days of September air was a joy I sit on and enjoy another cheeky cocktail.
Then came the food. The chefs preparing Pad Thai fresh in front of you is a sight to see, such skill in making simple ingredients taste so unbelievable. I won’t lie to you I went back for seconds, and thirds…..you get the picture.
The evening was rounded off by an indulgent hand massage and a blessing from a guru. The whole night was planned to perfection and having been to a fair few of these events I have never seen so many content faces. But that’s clearly what comes from fantastic service, stunning food and a couple of cocktails.
In summary I will be booking a table ASAP to indulge in the whole menu and may even treat myself to one of their Thai Cookery Courses.
They are offering some great offers to celebrate the arrival of Palm Sugar in Leeds, they’ve introduced Fizz Fridays – (two glasses for £11, Friday evenings between 5pm and 8pm.) The restaurant also has a brand new à la carte menu and a range of set menus designed by Chaophraya’s founder, Kim Kaewkraikhot. You can book online for dinner so there really is no excuse.
Let me know if you have visited since it has reopened and what you thought?