St Stephen Street has everything you could need. Got a beard like Mr Twit? There are two trendy barbers. Fancy a martini? Try The Last Word Saloon.
Amongst other retailers and restaurants, there’s also a record shop, a furniture boutique and a lovely vintage clothing shop of no discernible name which has been there for decades and has a changing room that involves a screen, mirror and the distinct possibility of exposing yourself.
I’m a bit sad that the old lady who ran the bric-a-brac/antique shop at one end of this thoroughfare seems to have shut up shop, even if her proprietary Jack Russell would nip my ankles whenever I browsed the never-changing wares. I wanted to kick him, but I never did.
Until six months ago there was a vacancy when it came to Thai food, but now Suree has appeared – up a set of stone stairs with a gold Buddha and a few twigs strung with red fairy lights in the window.
You’d never guess that it was only a few months old, as they seem to have selected a paint job that Farrow & Ball might call Old Photograph – a sepia-beige that provides what we’ll politely describe as an already well-established vibe.
The owner, Maneewan White, was a friendly vision in pale blue silk on our visit.
Gratis spicy crackers were slid onto our table, and I put my napkin, which was neatly origamied into the shape of a crown, onto my head for a quick photo op, as is tradition.
Ordering three starters was a bit ambitious, as they turned out to be almost main-sized. The tod mun (£5.65), or prawn and chicken cakes, hadn’t “imparted much flavour from the Thai red curry paste” as it explained on the menu. Still, they were wholesome enough, with an egg-scented soft batter and hot, pale and slippery contents.
Our kanom jeeb (£5.65) dumplings consisted of five crispy shallot-topped parcels of garlicky minced pork; while the tao hu tod, or crispy fried bean curd option (£4.95), resembled hunks of cardboard-coloured fried brown bread, with a not unpleasantly oily texture. All of our starters came with a deep dunking pool of jammy sweet chilli sauce, and everything is served alongside huge piles of decorative parsley.
Wholesome so far, if not particularly titillating.
Things went from zero to 100 with the larb salad (£8.95), with ingredients including chicken crumbs, red onions, lime leaves, powdery ground roasted rice and a kind of musty hit of something that tasted like galangal. This was topped with a chilli seed confetti, so after a distractingly zesty hit of lime, came the oral Bunsen burner moment. I think I may have briefly lost consciousness.
After that excitement, the stir-fry option of pad cha jan ron (£9.25) seemed comparatively pedestrian. It featured chicken, peppers, baby sweetcorn, Thai basil and some other bits, all in a vaguely gingery red wine sauce.
The sauce was the best bit of the gaeng phed ped yang (£12.95), or duck red curry, as it was coconutty and rich, with just a background fizz of heat. However, the neatly sliced meat, with sub-aqua accompaniments of whole lychee, cherry tomatoes and pineapple chunks, was a little overdone. You’ll also be requiring some rice, at £2.65 for the coconut variety (like calamine lotion for post-larb traumas) or £2.95 for the egg-fried variety.
Pudding consisted of Di Rollo’s coconut ice-cream and we couldn’t really say no, since it was kindly offered for free.
The food isn’t bad at Suree Thai, and it certainly has personality, just like the other businesses on this quirky street. Still, if Mr Twit wants some terribly exciting grub after his beard trim, he may want to try elsewhere.