Featured Restaurant: Lemongrass

24th March 2017

4 Church St • Rickmansworth • WD3 1BU • 01923 776779

Reviewed by Alan Cox

Two years since my last visit and Lemongrass has mellowed substantially. The interior is still simple and bright, with its zingy lime green walls setting off the dark wood tables and oriental looking chairs to great effect, but the ambience somehow feels warmer and more inviting.

It’s good to see the waiting staff now wearing traditional Thai dress. Last time around they sported a much more casual appearance, and I recall our evening as rather functional, fast and business like.

The menu, if I’m honest, is… predictable. It’s full of popular Thai dishes, but falls a little short for those wanting something a little out of the ordinary. Mind you, a generous basket of moreish spicy prawn crackers, with a sweet chilli dip, may be a safe start, but it certainly fills a hole while we await our starters: Golden Bags – marinated chicken, deep-fried mixed sweet corn, red pepper and white onion wrapped in a rice paper bag, served with sweet chilli sauce; and Dim Sum – steamed dumpling won ton, wrapped with minced pork and prawns.

Neatly presented, the Golden Balls arrive at the table piping hot. With a generous mixed filling and an almost curryish note, all encased in a delicate, light and crispy shell, these little appetisers certainly hit the spot.

I must admit, I was expecting a little more from the Dim Sum. Usually arriving in a little bamboo steamer with those familiar aromas gently escaping, here they are presented on a simple white plate. Lacking flair visually, these little ‘steamed buns’ also lose their heat quite quickly. Disappointingly, they taste just like sausage meat inside, it must be said, a very sparse won ton dough wrapper. The dish of soy sauce adds a little extra taste to these rather mediocre offerings.

Having felt the service a little rushed last time, this evening we wait until we’ve eaten our starters before choosing our main courses. It’s a clever trick, and also means that, having taken the edge off our hunger we can choose more thoughtfully.

We opt for Chicken Panang – a thick red curry with cream of coconut and fresh herbs; Kung Yang – grilled king prawns served with a hot sour sauce; Pad Thai Gai – fried noodles with chicken, beansprouts, peanuts, egg and spring onions and a side dish of sticky rice.

I love Thai curries, and the Panang here doesn’t disappoint. There are generous pieces of chicken nestled in this oh-so-tasty thick and creamy sauce. Garnished with little broccoli florets, this is a confident dish, bursting with all those fragrant Thai flavours that make this cuisine so distinctive and delicious.

The simplicity of a trio of huge butterflied prawns, served with a hot and fiery sauce, certainly sets the taste buds a-tingle, but these handsome shellfish are unfortunately slightly overcooked, resulting in a slightly chewy texture. That aside, the flavours are amazing.

You can’t really go wrong with a Pad Thai noodle stir fry. And there is certainly nothing wrong with this delicious medley. The combination of flavours and textures hits the spot and, together with a dinky little pot of extremely sticky rice, gives us a well-balanced, varied feast.

Feeling rather replete, my wife and I conclude by sharing the Thai Pancake – pandon leaves filled and rolled with a creamy coconut filling – served with vanilla ice cream.

It is great to see the place so buzzy, with groups and couples all taking a mid-week break from cooking, and enjoying an informal and tasty slice of the Orient.

STARTERS: £5.20-£6.90 • MAINS: £6.90-£13.75 • DESSERTS: £3.20-£3.95 • HOUSE WINE: £14.95

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