I was invited along to VIP opening night for an evening of menu exploring and cocktail testing in what promised to be the party of the year!
Important business first - how on earth do you pronounce Chaophraya? After months of calling it "the Thai restaurant at the top of Eldon Square" I really need to learn how to pronounce its name to save myself a red face. Any help is gratefully received.
Making our way up the "secret staircase" (not that secret really, you'll find it next to TGI Fridays!) we made our way into the restaurant and were immediately met by a real treat for the senses. Delicious smells were drifting out of the kitchen, happy chatter was in the air and everywhere we looked were plush booths, beautiful flowers and excited faces.
The restaurant is huge with ornate water features, black granite and opulent décor - Chaophraya made quite an impression before we even got to our table.
Photo by Chaophraya
Our party of four were shown to a plush white leather booth in the main restaurant which made us feel extra fancy and we quickly set to work at browsing the extensive menu whilst snacking on prawn crackers.
As a nut allergy sufferer I have to be so careful when I dine in Thai restaurants but I immediately felt at ease when I noticed that the menu was marked with little "n" symbols so I could see what I was able to have. Living with a food allergy isn't fun and it was great to be able to relax.
Photo by Chaophraya
The starter menu is extensive and, if you're eating in traditional Thai style, it's a fun idea to eat "family style" by ordering a few dishes and sharing them with your nearest and dearest - one of my favourite ways to eat!
We decided to order our own dishes on this visit and I chose the Chaophraya Ka Nom Jeeb (£7.00) - steamed pork dumplings topped with fried garlic and sweet soy sauce. Beautifully presented and equally delicious I eagerly tucked into these little treats and loved them.
Choosing a main course was hard work with so many dishes catching my eye. Curries, Noodles, Stir Fry, Steamed Fish - my eyes were out on stalks going through the menu. After much mind changing I decided to order Goong Pad Khing & Het Horm (£15.00) - King Prawns sautéed with shitake mushrooms, Thai ginger, spring onion and red bell peppers. Never one to eat without a side dish I also ordered a dish of Sticky Rice (£3.50).
I have to admit I was expecting my main course to arrive with chopsticks but in Thailand meals are eaten with forks and spoons, something that I was pretty thankful for as I'm not the best at eating with chopsticks and tend to end up flinging things round the restaurant. My food was delicious and vanished in minutes, I only wish I could have tried more of the menu.
Before taking a look at the dessert menu we were invited to join in the Thai tradition of honouring Buddha by decorating the statue at Chaophraya with gold leaf. Traditionally people place gold on the parts of the statue that they want blessed with good health so I decided to put my gold on the Achilles which has been injured for months now. Fingers crossed!
After such a delicious meal we all decided that desserts had to be tried and we'd somehow make the room! I decided to order the White Chocolate Box (£7.50) - white chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis on butter shortbread served with a mini macaron and passion fruit syrup. It was the most beautifully presented dessert that I have ever seen and tasted just as good as it looked.
With my three course meal costing a slightly eye watering £33.00 Chaophraya is definitely somewhere that I'll be saving for special occasions. As delicious as the food was I couldn't afford to be eating out like that on a regular basis and it's easily the most expensive restaurant in Grey's Quarter. A treat for birthdays and anniversaries rather than a quick bite to eat after a day of shopping.
Photo by Chaophraya
As we left we couldn't resist a little look at the Roof Top Terrace which has to be one of the loveliest ways to dine. Offering beautiful views overlooking Monument, I think Chaophraya is going to be a very popular addition to Newcastle.
We enjoyed complimentary food and drinks as part of the VIP launch. All thoughts and opinions are my own.