Indulge AND detox at Mango Tree, Belgravia

25 Jan 2017

On a cold, dark and wet evening I was transported via the Victoria line to fashionable Belgravia.  My destination was the Mango Tree, an exotic sounding name for a restaurant in grey West London and no less conspicuous for its reputation. The Mango Tree is renowned for its authentic Thai cuisine and impeccable hospitality and, with a sister restaurant in Harrods it is a restaurant with much promise.

Stepping inside, we were greeted by the incomparable smell of Jasmine. For anyone who has been to Thailand, I suspect this scent will evoke memories of long, tropical nights along with a desire to return there. It is an extremely inviting smell and as pleasant as being offered a cocktail menu upon arrival. Of course we choose the Mango Tree Martini, an innovative creation with a baby red chilli tucked inside a juicy lychee.

The dining room is all dark wood, and soft, purple hued lighting. It feels civilised despite its frenetic central location and there is the option of sumptuous leather cushioned seating to relax. It is an elegant setting for a meal; surrounded by red hibiscus flowers, we feel sophisticated and in a perfect frame of mind to enjoy the experience.

Our waiter guides us through the Detox Dumpling Menu. My date, like many others in January is trying to invest in health and good diet this month so is intrigued. To start, we choose Black Rice and Vegetable Parcels wrapped in Banana Leaf with Truffle Edamame Dumplings and Quinoa Summer Rolls with Thai Dipping Sauce. The Edamame Dumplings arrive, steaming to our table and look oh so plump in their basket with their translucent emerald green skin. They have a slightly chewy texture that contrasts so well with the crunchy freshness of the summer rolls.

For me, a Thai dining experience would not be complete without Tom Yum Goong so we order this to follow. The chilli and the lemongrass combination is both hot and sour and the usual shrimps have been replaced with the most flavoursome King Prawns. We ask the waiter for a recommendation and he suggests a signature dish, Poonim Yum Mamuang – Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Mango Salad and Thai Citrus Soy Sauce. It does not disappoint.

Finally, we are recommended the Som Tum, a Green Papaya Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Snake Beans, Peanuts, Dried Shrimp Powder and Spicy Tamarind Sauce as a light and refreshing way to end our meal.

As for drinks, we switch the Martini for a Mango Tree Fizz, which is a sublime concoction of Champagne, Amaretto, Fresh Mango Juice and a delightful cocktail cherry. Our waitress offers us palate cleansers of shredded apple in between each course and stays close by to offer advice on dumpling etiquette (e.g. do we eat the banana leaf?) and drinks choices.

Instead of dessert, we order a pot of fresh mint tea, which seems the right thing to do after the Detox Dumplings – and for a Monday.

The Mango Tree is a beautiful restaurant. Yes, you can get good Thai food at a number of more affordable places in London but the Mango Tree is about the whole dining experience – from the understated elegance of the décor, to the knowledge and empathy of the staff, to the unpretentious ambience. This is a restaurant to come to for special occasions: birthdays, Valentine’s Days or maybe just some January escapism.

Lauren

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