East meets West (Vale)

The last time I ate in West Vale it was 1998 and after copious amounts of Archers and Lemonade we decided it would be a fabulous idea to get a pizza from Chariots. There were never any restaurants in West Vale, just a number of rather dubious takeaways!

Fast forward 17 years and West Vale is clearly the new place in Calderdale to eat out. Part of Victoria Mill has now been given over to restaurants, Cinammon @ The Mill which is a large Indian restaurant, the recently opened fish restaurant, Catch, and Vine, a wine bar due to open soon. And across the road from there in the old freezer shop is Cafe Thai (35 Stainland Road, West Vale, Greetland, HX4 8AD).

This place must be busy, I booked six weeks in advance and could only get a table at 6pm! And we would have to give it up by 8pm. Same goes for my cousin who ended up in the same position a couple of month ago. When we arrived our table wasn’t ready, the family on there were just finishing up so we stood at the bar for drinks. The restaurant is tiny, probably only about 35-40 covers and the bar isn’t really conducive to having a relaxing pre-dinner drink so luckily by the time the rest of our party had arrived our table was ready and we sat down to enjoy our prawn crackers.

The Ginwhisperer and I were the experts in the menu, or so we were lead to believe, having spent a whole 13 days in Thailand. There is plenty of choice, everything sounded delicious. Two of the party are a little picky and my mum doesn’t do peppers so we successfully managed to navigate the menu to find something for everyone.

Cafe Thai Clockwise from top left Coconut Pancakes, Gung Pao, Pla Lui Suan, Kung Makam, Banana Fritters, Mango with coconut sticky rice, Sua Rong Hai, Chicken Massaman. Centre Mixed Starter.

Mixed starter is always the easiest option. Something for everyone. At Cafe Thai the mixed starter consists of Satay Gai (Chicken Satay) Poh Plia Tod (spring rolls), Geowtod (chicken and prawn in wanton pastry and then deep fried), Kanom Pang Na Goong (Prawn and chicken toast) and Tod Mun Khow Pod (Corn cakes, deep fried). All this came with sweet chilli sauce, peanut sauce and carrot and cucumber in vinegar. The only thing that wasn’t absolutely amazing was the corn cakes, a little boring and maybe a bit under-seasoned but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with the delicious accompanying sauces. The peanut sauce was particularly good.

For main course I had Gung Makam. I’ve never heard of it before, let alone tasted it. It was king prawns lightly fried, in a sweet and sour tamarind sauce with onions and red chilli and served on a bed of peppers on a sizzling plate. I’m a sucker for a sizzling plate and tamarind always reminds me of being a kid on holiday in the Caribbean eating tamarind balls covered in sugar. When it arrived I was very impressed, as I was with the presentation of all the dishes to be honest. There were plenty of prawns and boy were they good! I’m not sure if they were in a light batter or not but they were lovely and crispy. The sauce was delicious, nice and sticky and enough to spoon over my tasty coconut rice. I would definitely have it again.

My mum had Gung Pao, three giant river prawns with a really spicy green sauce. She’s not a big eater so this was perfect for her. Dad, on the other hand, had Pla Lui Suan, two big sea bass fillets topped with herbs, shallots, lime, ginger and lemongrass and a spicy dressing. Again, this looked and tasted wonderful.

Two Chicken Massaman curries, one for a non-curry fan who is now definitely a Massaman convert. She chose it on our recommendation and loved it! 

The final dish was Sua Rong Hai, Tiger’s Tears, Thai-style chargrilled sirloin steak with a chilli sauce. My unadventurous cousin loved it, not something he would have chosen for himself. The steak was cooked to perfection. 

The desserts were also fab! I managed to finally have the mango and sticky rice that had illuded me during our stay in Pattaya and it was well worth the wait.

Service was good, really friendly and helpful. My only criticism is that they could have made a fortune out of us if they’d kept an eye out to ask if we wanted more bottles of wine. The quality of the food, mixed with the service makes you realise just why it is so difficult to get a table here! Really fresh ingredients and and authentic Thai taste. 

£210 for six of us with four desserts and 3 bottles of wine. We will definitely be back……if we book in time, otherwise we will be trying their take away which is just round the corner.

After that we went to the only remaining pub in West Vale, The Queens, and bought 2 G&Ts, a diet Pepsi, two glasses of wine and a pint of lager for £10.35. It’s nice to be back in Yorkshire!

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