Time was that The City was the last place you’d head for a foodie fix. Faced with a narrow range of uninspiring options, your best chance of something more exotic was a panini from one of the few old school Italian caffs that remained. But that’s all changed.
These days, the streets around Monument are filled with fun, small chains doing quality lunch offerings, coffee and pastries. So now you can Forget Pret, Banish Boots and try, er, grabbing a GRAB!
Yes, Grab is an authentic delicious Thai chain with three branches in the City and a pop-up in Victoria station. Started by husband and wife Neeti and Chusana in 2011, the food at GRAB is inspired by the Bangkok street food of Neeti’s childhood and is designed for a busy London lunch-hour crowd who want something quick and affordable.
When Belle visits the Monument branch, we’re blown away by the big bright bank of wonderfully kitsch soy sauce bottles and tins of exotic fizzy drinks. And we’re immediately whisked away from dreary London and feel like we’ve been transported to Thailand.
The rest of the décor is modern and slightly industrial with benches: think Wagamama with a slice of neon fun. The main emphasis is on take out but you can eat in too.
We decide to try a range of dishes. The Tom Yum Prawn soup (£3.25) comes in a pleasingly big pot and is steaming and delicious. And its authentic sour flavour reflects the fact that the broth is homemade rather than from a powder topped up with hot water. In fact everything from the prawn crackers to the spice pastes in the curry is homemade which gives all the food a fresher taste and a depth of flavour you wouldn’t expect from your average London Thai place. The classic Green Curry Chicken had a zing and intensity that’s unusual for Thai food at this kind or price (£4.85 for a medium portion with white or brown rice). The heat is just right, not eye-watering but you definitely know it’s there.
But for us the stand-out dish had to be the Pepper and Garlic Beef (£5.25 for a medium portion served with rice, see main image). Imagine the best rich old-fashioned beef stew you can think of and then give it a shot of Thai heat and flavour and you’re there. Deeply savoury, we couldn’t imagine a better dish for a cold miserable lunch hour. And if you were hungover, you’d be immediately healed by this dish!
We sip on water but you can have teas or maybe a Spicy Samui (£3) – freshly pressed juice with apple, carrot and ginger or a Roselle Herbal Drink (£2) – hibiscus flower with lime juice.
GRAB has got a great thing going on here and is forging the way ahead for quick and convenient Thai food that blows away the cobwebs and comforts you to your cockles too.
This winter, it’s definitely HOT in the city!
- For the full menu or to use the Click and Grab facility and order your food ready to collect, see www.grabfood.co.uk