33 Castle Street, Edinburgh, EH23DN
0131 226 7614
I may be in France, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still cover Edinburgh restaurant launches here on Jemma Eat World! Allow me to introduce Euan; foodie extraordinaire, best friend, and reviewer of Edinburgh restaurants on my behalf. Although I couldn’t attend the launch of Chaophraya, Euan was there to ask whether the meat was locally sourced, how much a meal costs, and more importantly, whether the bar’s open all day…
Having spent a dreich Edinburgh day in a conference, I was super excited to be spending my evening at the launch of new Thai restaurant, Chaophraya. Chaophraya has moved into the Edinburgh institution that was Oloroso on Castle Street. Having spent many days ‘basking’ in the ‘sunshine’ supping cocktails on the Oloroso balcony, I feared that the traditional Edinburger summer would be changed for good.
As is now compulsory, my evening started in The Queens Arms, merely to settle my nerves before presenting myself as the roaming reporter for Jemma Eat World. Upon arrival at Chaophraya I was greeted by a bouncer and the obligatory glamorous lady with a clipboard. Thankfully my name was on the list, and the first possible disaster of the evening was averted!
Our coats were taken and we were shown to the lift by the assistant manager. She was lovely and gave us an impromptu lesson in Thai, we parted with “Khorb Khun Krup”, or something that sounded like that!
Reaching the dizzy heights of the rooftop restaurant we were greeted with a lovely glass of prosecco. As far as first impressions go, I’ve had worse! Then, on a side note, I got my picture taken for the style page in I-On magazine because they, and I quote, “love(d) my look”!
Walking about six inches taller and with my chest puffed out, we headed for the balcony to take in the ambience. The restaurant was busy but it is evident that money has been spent to create a very stylish addition to the Edinburgh restaurant scene. That being said, I’m not interested in eating the plush bar or fancy lighting, so roll on the food!
Canapés were dished out in their droves, and we quickly worked out the best place to nab them straight from the kitchen. We were treated to lovely beef with a sweet dip, tasty chicken satay skewers, oysters and prawn rolls. But, we were also given two very strange canapés. They were a bizarre nutty/meaty mix (not normally an issue…I love satay) served on pineapple chunks or in clementine segments. I say bizarre, I mean not nice. I did give them another try later on, and they were definitely not nice.
The company behind Chaophraya know how to put on a party. In addition to the free bar until 10pm, we were entertained by the obligatory, but not entirely convincing, ’Ladyboys’. There was a traditional Thai blessing with rose petals, but as the woman behind me so eloquently put, “someone is going to have to pick that shit up”.
I took my roaming reporter role extremely seriously, more so as the night went on…!
When the Marketing Director could not answer my question of where the £2.1 million upgrade had been spent, I was swiftly pushed towards the Development Director (?). He assured me that Edinburgh now has the most modern bar in the UK. It was nice and trendy with a plush light above it. Personally, I couldn’t see what was ground breaking about it. Maybe I should do a second viewing, but really, I wouldn’t go back to a place just because they have a fancy bar.
When my questions moved onto whether or not the food was locally sourced, the owner of the chain was pushed my way. He handed me another glass of prosecco which was a good start! He could tell me that the fish was locally sourced, but nothing more specific than that. He did tell me that Edinburgh was very lucky to be chosen to have this restaurant.
There was me struggling to find a fine eatery in our capital city!
He did question where I got my figures from when I asked about the upgrade. Only when I told him that they were from his marketing man, did he acknowledged them!
I don’t think he liked me…
I also asked whether Chaophraya could live up to what Oloroso offered. Would people be furiously ‘checking-in’ on the balcony during our one day of summer? He assured me that they would. The bar is open all day and is very well stocked. They welcome customers who are just looking for a drink, which will definitely help with business. The bar manager, Mario, seemed to know his stuff. He and his staff were confident and calm behind such a busy bar.
As the night progressed we mingled with the other chosen ones. One guy ordered four shots of Disaronno from the free bar alongside his other drinks. Out of order in my opinion. So if you’re reading, that’s just not cricket.
As fire dancers and masseurs were brought out to entertain the crowds, we took the opportunity to grab another bite to eat on the balcony. A barbeque was cooking meat to sit atop a cone shaped wrap filled with salad. These were lovely and had a nice bite. The salad was crisp and the meat beautifully cooked. More substantial than the canapés, they were a most welcome addition to the culinary aspect of the evening.
The lovely assistant manager gave me a couple of menus to take away (they don’t do takeaway by the way, I asked). I thought that you might be interested in some prices! Here’s a random sample:
Chicken Spring Rolls – £6.95
Pork Spare Ribs – £7.95
Prawn Satay – £9.95
Thai Green Chicken Curry – £10.55
Chicken Pad Thai – £9.95
Sticky Rice – £3.55
From the drinks menu, which I was also gifted, the cheapest bottle of vino will set you back £17.25, cocktails are £7.50. A bottle of beer is about £3.75, but I’m not sure if that’s good or not! Going to Chaophraya is definitely not a cheap option, but it is on George Street (ish), and has an amazing view in the daylight. So can we forgive them for that?
Our night ended at a table with the really nice Marketing Director, a man from accounts and one of the waiters. By now the free bar was closed, but our complimentary drinks kept flowing thanks to our company. I decided that further questioning was required (the meat comes from Belgium, by the way).
I left with a warm feeling that I had been amongst friends, but maybe that was the wine. In terms of the food, further investigation would be required and I’m not sure I would rush back for round two. Due to its subtle location, they will need to survive on their reputation.
Good luck Chaophraya, you may need a strong (Easterly) wind behind you!