Rosa’s Thai Cafe

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address: 36 Atlantic Road, Brixton SW9 8JW

telephone: 020 3393 8562

http://rosasthaicafe.com/brixton/

This is the ninth in the chain of Rosa’s Thai restaurants and the first to venture south of the river. This was a brave move as Brixton already has two good Thai restaurants, see Yum-D and Kaosarn, as well as others such as Satay Bar serving up decent Thai dishes, so this new one has strong competition. It is on Atlantic Road with a wide view of the street and small tables for two or booths for up to six.

This is a restaurant for all tastes. They have gluten free and vegan and each dish comes colour coded with the degree of spiciness (no idea why they say that as they really mean the amount of burning and numbing). As usual with Thai  restaurants there is an array of dishes with starters, soups, noodles as well as main dishes.

The three of us started with prawn crackers and, we hoped, Thai crispy calamari but it arrived late. We loved the prawn crackers as they were very different from the usual bland crispiness and were chili flavoured. The Thai calamari was disappointing – described as crispy but it wasn’t, and clearly had been cooked quickly in oil that wasn’t hot enough as it was also oily. We also ordered the Tom Yum soup, which we thought would come early – it didn’t, it came with the main courses. Although it looked boring it had just the right heat and the right range of flavours.

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For mains we ordered Pad Thai, which works as a good measuring stick to judge Thai food; salmon red curry; roast duck curry; and one portion of jasmine rice. We were split on these courses. The Pad Thai was just dull, without the ‘zing’ that one expects and the roast duck curry was ok, if a bit on the chewy side (perhaps a blessing if you believe R4 archaeologist who thinks we should chew more to exercise the jaw bone). But the salmon dish was spot on. Perfect red thai curry sauce,with the salmon lightly fried in batter, meaning the fish fell apart but didn’t get soaked by the sauce too much. Massive fan of the salmon.

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We did arrive at a very busy time, although we deliberately chose 6.30pm on a Wednesday. We were lucky to get a table, as there was usually a half hour wait. Waiters were running around bussing tables, bringing drinks and food to keep the tables turning over. So perhaps the rush affected their timing. They were not throwing us out or even encouraging us to leave, but we would have liked to have been a little more leisurely as the meal came as a gust rather than a sustained breeze. So we wolfed it all down in less than an hour. This may be a problem for most Brixton restaurants and not just for Rosa’s. The small restaurants need turnover to make a profit and with young customers, who usually have somewhere else to go, that is made easier. Alas my social life is just not that busy. The blessing is that Rosa’s is open on a Monday, when it may feel a little more relaxed.

We washed the food down with three beers and a glass of wine. The whole bill came to £79.37 for three people including the service charge.

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