Chaophraya, Manchester – Review

Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people.
Adam Lowe

Chaophraya Manchester is something of a popular choice for foodies in the city. Well known for its high quality food and great service, it’s the go-to place for upmarket group dinners, Christmas parties and birthday bashes. It’s quite bustling, so it also makes for a great place to take work colleagues and family, although you probably want to ask for a snug corner if you’re on a date.

Housed in a charming Victorian building, the restaurant is full of character. The decor feels decadent and traditional, with a high finish and elegant details. There are plenty of authentic Thai flourishes, but also a friendly formality that reassures you of a good meal and good service from the moment you arrive. Luckily, Chaophraya really can deliver what it promises.

Looking around the venue, we were keen to sit in one of the sunken seats by the window, giving us a view and a cosy, low table with an informal feel but plenty of class regardless. As we were seated, we were greeted to live music from Good Indeed Music, who were just starting up. This set the tone for a relaxed, sumptuous evening. There was a pleasant atmosphere, with the restaurant quite busy but the service prompt.

The menu is great. There’s plenty to choose from, but no so much you’re overwhelmed. Those who are more adventurous can get some very flashy dishes (see below), while the more conservative diner can still get classic favourites such as Thai green curry and massaman curry.

Because I like to sample a wide range of foods whenever I visit a restaurant (and always seem struck with food envy), my companion and I started off with the appetiser fondue. In a Thai twist on a cheese fondue, this was instead a delicious selection of chicken satay, pork, prawn, grilled squid on bamboo skewers and Thai fish cakes served with a warm satay sauce. It must be ordered for a minimum of two people, and it’s a great option for groups, with something for everyone. The dipping makes for something social and enjoyable to do while you eat, and creates a talking point for even the most formal of dinner dates.

For mains we tucked into the Chaophraya mixed grill – another sharer. What came out was a mountain of meat: grilled sirloin steak, chicken breast, king prawns and lamb chops flambéed with whisky. This was all served on a brochette with grilled vegetables, Panang sauce and green curry sauce. We had rice, too, but really, it just wasn’t needed. We could’ve feasted on the meat and been full – and, indeed, barely touched the vegetables. This would be great if you’re on the Atkins.

The meat was cooked to perfection, and was obviously of a high quality. The steak and prawns were my favourite, while my companion enjoyed the chicken and lamb, so we were well served by the selection on offer. The dramatics of the dish – which burns blue as it flambées – makes it great for parties or when you absolutely have to impress.

Full as we were, we settled on another round of cocktails and some light sorbet to finish the night. There are a range of cocktails, including classics with a Thai twist, such as the Bloody Mary, Mai Tai, Long Island Ice Tea and Margarita. Though light, this was the perfect way to cleanse the palate and wind down after the climbing expedition up our colossal main course.

All in all, Chaophraya is an excellent and consistent Thai restaurant, offering a tasteful environment for high quality food, with exceptional service. The price range is on par for similar Thai restaurants, but given the level of service and attention to detail here, it’s really a no-brainer – Chaophraya mops the floor with the competition.

For those who require it, private dining is available, and there’s even a cookery school if you’re keen to brush up your culinary skills.

For more information, visit Chaophraya Manchester online.

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