After falling head-over-heels with Thai food when I visited the country four years ago, I’ve only found one place in London before that comes close to the real thing - and that one's conveniently sat five minutes down my road. But with ten venues under their belt, Rosa’s Thai Cafe must be doing something right, so I took my mum (also a lover of our local Thai restaurant) with me to check out the recently opened Seven Dials plot and see if it really does match up to the real thing.
Venue and Atmosphere
Rosa’s is placed in the hub of Seven Dials: a bustling area of Covent Garden home to many theatres and even more food spots. You’ll find the venue on the beginning of Earlham Street, rocking its distinct sage green shop front entrance. We visited on a balmy Thursday evening, where the sun was beaming through the huge windows. Clearly benefiting from the footfall of such an area, they enjoyed a steady (but not too hectic) flow of people on the Thursday we visited, with the crowd being a mix of twenty somethings and older folks catching up over dinner, as well as some date nights and family meals.
The interiors are particularly striking. This branch is rocking a soft colonial touch, with ceiling fans, correlated steel-effect wood on the walls, ratan and square mirrors. This is all encompassed by an oak and sage colour scheme broken up by mustard touches and palm tree print wallpaper. Seating wise, there’s a mixture of cutesy sage leather booths and wooden tables, which provides both elbow-to-elbow and more spacious dining, giving it a laidback yet intimate feel. This gentle retro theme splashed across Rosa’s three floors worked worked well for a Thai eatery, as it feels like the furnishings whisk you away to somewhere hot (which would be absolutely not in London).
Food and Drink
It would feel wrong to not kick off with two bottles of Chang (£4), a staple light and refreshing Thai lager. With bellies rumbling, my mum went for the tom yum soup (£7.50) and wanting to try something different, I opted for the grilled sausage Northern style (£7.50). The spicy and sour soup was deliciously fragrant, packed with tomatoes, mushrooms and juicy prawns, while the sausage was a different but tasty start; softly grilled and encompassing everything marvellous about Thai flavours with a spicy kick.
Onto the mains, we thought we’d try two glasses of the Mokoblack Sauvignon blanc (£6.60) as an accompaniment and with us both being enthusiasts of this specific wine, we can confirm it was delicious. We then opted for the spicy fish with mixed herbs (£17.50) and salmon red curry (£13.00) along with some steamed jasmine rice (£2.50) to share. The fish came served whole, cooked perfectly and topped in a delightful sauce that combined lemongrass, ginger, galangal, cashews and chilli paste.
The sauce balanced a great deal of spice with tangy rich flavours which complemented the soft, flaky fish. The red curry was equally as a delicious: the salmon was flavoursome and lightly battered, and the amount given for the price was amazing. Though the curry consistency was thicker than I’ve had before, it wasn’t a bit less tasty, retaining the perfect crunch and heat from the sliced chillies and vegetables. Eyes clearly bigger than our bellies, we also shared a special side of chilli pork mince (£7.50). This was a Thai take on a bolognese sauce, served with rice crackers and blanched vegetables. Much like the meal that inspired it, the dish was a tangy tomato base packed with aromatic Thai flavours, capping off a deliciously hot meal perfectly.
Dinner at Rosa’s Seven Dials was a lovely experience. Affordable dishes, incredible flavours, attentive staff and lovely furnishings - whether you’re after a casual dinner or a birthday celebration, Rosa’s will fit. Largely furious that I couldn’t try everything on the menu, Rosa’s is somewhere I will definitely be coming back to again. I'll have to say sorry to my hometown eatery, I may have just found a new favourite Thai restaurant in London.