Even in a geek’s wildest dreams, I don’t think we quite expected that upwards of thirty folk would turn out for the Total Food Geeks open evening, but they duly did, and it showed in pure people power the level of engagement that there is from the Edinburgh food appreciation community.
What’s more, that thirty-odd strong turnout was without such stellar stars as Edinburgh Foody’s Danielle, Hilary Monkfish, Nadine from Eating Edinburgh, Yelp’s Jen, Masterchef’s Ross, My Home Supper’s Aoife, Hannah the Foodineer, Pete the Pimp (that Snack), the lovely Saltcake, and many, many more. Anyone who thought that Edinburgh didn’t have things to say about food should upgrade their handset, immediately.
Anyhoo, when we were communing with our people, I was delighted when MJ mentioned that a restaurant stop was in order, to round out our evening. Given that we were in Underdogs, which is in my workaday hinterland, the choice of a restaurant wasn’t quite as simple as it may have seemed. We could have gone for a Hanover St Italian, but we headed westwards, instead. Finding Wok and Wine closed, we headed yet further west, alighting upon Time 4 Thai, in a matter of moments.
We’ve been eating a fair amount of Thai food, lately, but I’d had a recommendation that this place was worth a visit, so I was confident that we’d find some interesting dishes to consider on the menu.
And so we did. Sometimes menus remind me of just how much I value the remarkable creative partnership that MJ and I have struck up. One particular page crystallised that beautifully, for me: the upper half mentioned four soups; the lower half four salads. Neither of us noticed the information we had no interest in, but both ordered lovingly from the same page. If this is what “being on the same page” with someone means (which I suspect isn’t exactly what the coiner of the phrase originally had in mind), MJ and I are that.
Our starters arrived at lightning speed (this is fast becoming a defining characteristic of Thai places) and I must admit I had a touch of food envy. MJ’s salad was an incredibly bonnie dish, and made my thin milky broth with mushrooms floating in it look distinctly unappealing.
But I needn’t have worried. As a pure parade of unfettered flavour, I doubt I’ve ever tasted a soup quite like it. Yikes alive, it was bold! Coconut, lime, and heat, with a touch of coriander to drive home the point, toyed with the beautifully soft chicken and slippery mushrooms, bludgeoning them to within an inch of their lives with a brutal assault of flavour power. Was it good? Well, it was relentlessly interesting, but I suppose upon relfection it could have used a little more restrained shaping to make it truly elegant.
The main courses arrived in short order. We’d both ordered variations on crispy monkfish, with a little rice and noodles to offer some carbo padding.
Both dishes were of good quality, without quite matching the flavour barrage of the starters. Maybe our palettes had become desensitised, but I suspect there was simply a touch more measured subtlety at work here. Given the carpet-bombing our tastebuds had been subject to with the starters, these dishes seemed something of a cop-out. They were tasty, but were they memorable in quite the same way? No, I don’t think they were.
So, I was served with memorable soup, in smart surroundings, with good, attendant service, and nicely presented dishes. These things are all very much to Time 4 Thai’s credit. In the final reckoning, its effective, stylish grace captured my head more than it captured my heart, but if you’re looking for Thai flavour sensation, this could very well be just the place for you.
What a lovely evening we had. We got to meet up with the fabulous Geeks, meet potential Geeks, got to put faces to names, I got to share the love of my retox food, AND I had a reason to wear a dress!
It was with the celebratory spirit that B and I wandered out into the evening air to locate a later dinner. We tottered down to try a Chinese place which was shut, and ended up going out for Thai food, for the second time in as many days. (not to mention that we are also having a Thai lunch Friday)
I’ve wandered by Time 4 Thai several times over the past years, and always thought it was a hotel, and stepping inside did nothing to remove this illusion; in fact, I would not be surprised at all if I suddenly learned that it is. Well, if it is a hotel, it is a lovely one with soothing stones and grey tones with elegant furniture and a tinkering of Asian music in the background.
We were seated and had a look at the menu and I was able to narrow it down to two choices: Chicken skewers and a steak salad, or vegetable salad and stir fried monkfish. B looked at the soups and went for the chef’s special monkfish dish.
(P.S. B and I are TOTALLY on the same page)
I dithered and then went for the salad and monkfish and after just a few minutes, and a taste of one very prawny prawn puff, which was already on the table when we arrived, our starters arrived. My salad was very pretty. It was pretty big too. Whenever I order a salad at a Thai place, I am reminded why I love their use of flavours. The tastes of fresh mango, peppers, asparagus, corns, baby leaves, and other lovely bits were graciously complimented by the crunch of the cashews and peanuts and alight gingery-sweet dressing. It’s fair to say that in my world of salads, and I do LOVE a good salad, this ranks well up there for most complete and tasty-beating out almost all others I’ve had in the UK.
After that array of flavour, our mains arrived soon after. Once again, these were very pretty dishes that did justice to the Thai melding of flavours to create a whole mouthful of taste. The monkfish was odd to me, however, simply because it was dredged in a sort of cornflour before it was stir fried. It didn’t negatively effect the flavour, but it was unexpected. The peppers were both hot and bitter, the sauce gently sweet and the wee bundles of bitter berries were a great offset to the rest of the dish when eaten in small doses (ie. Don’t put the whole bundle in your mouth in one go to taste it).
The side dishes were good, rice noodles did admirably for a base for the main and the fried rice looked nice, but both of us seemed more drawn to the noodles. A few more bites and a coffee later, we were ready to go and were quickly brought the bill.
The service at Time 4 Thai is worth mentioning simply because it is unmemorable in its great service. The servers appeared when we wanted them (as if by magic), came to ask how we like our food (only once), and didn’t hover in multiplicity like they tend to do in some of the city’s other Thai restaurants. So when I say unmemorable, I use it as a compliment.
I think I’ll be back to Time 4 Thai. There are lots of things on the menu that look tempting, and if I subsequently discover a hotel for my family to stay in during their summer visit…all the better I say!
Blythe scores Time 4 Thai:
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
3/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20
MJ scores Time 4 Thai:
3.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
3/5 for setting
giving an overall 14.5/20
Today’s questers were: Miriam, Blythe
We ate: soup, salad, crispy monkfish, noodles, rice
We drank: sparkly water, Singha, espresso
We wore: stylish black dress, pink and blue checked tie
Total bill: c.£60
Time 4 Thai