Despite establishing an excellent reputation since it re-opened a couple of years back, there were plenty of tables available at the Birdcage Thai restaurant at the Intercontinental Semiramis hotel during peak hours on a Friday night.
This is doubly strange given the restaurant’s enticing exterior – a shallow rocky pool forming a moat around the outside, creating the delightful impression that you are leaving the hotel upon entering.
The varied and carefully considered menu is enticing too and it was quite some time before we decided what to order.
My guest started with the Tom Kha Kai soup (LE 28), a watery vegetable broth with (an interestingly conceived) minced chicken and gently flavored with ginger and Thai spices. It was a bit on the weak side but tasty nonetheless, and whetted the appetite for what to come.
I began with one of the finest starters I have ever tasted. The Thai Satay (LE 38) skewers of chicken and beef were both carefully seared and grilled, and were tender, juicy and delicious, served with a sweet and creamy peanut sauce.
Between us we shared a Yam Taley seafood salad (LE 48) comprising shrimps and calamari over rocket leaves and coriander in a tangy citrus dressing, which was very pleasant but far too small for its price tag.
Up to this point the service had been fast and efficient and the waiters knew the menu well, even if they all seemed a bit downcast. But while the starters came within 15 minutes, our main courses took over three quarters of an hour.
It gave us time to admire the Birdcage’s elegant oriental décor, a dark brown hardwood layout gently lit with beige fabric lamps. The restaurant is a nice size as well with only 10 tables inside including three lavish booths for more intimate gatherings.
Strangely there was no music, which would have greatly added to the ambience.
Finally our main courses arrived, with a Nua Nam Maan Hoi (LE 70), or stir fried beef with oyster sauce, for my companion. While the beef could have done with being marinated before cooking, the vegetables were fresh and crunchy and combined well with the beef in the oyster sauce, making the dish a winner.
I went with the Preiow Wan Taley (LE 74), stir fried seafood in a sweet and sour sauce, which was essentially a good version of your standard sweet and sour seafood dish.
Plain steamed rice accompanied my choice though my companion went with the Pad Thai (LE 48), glass noodles mixed in with vegetables and morsels of egg and seafood. And speaking from experience, it was as good as any Pad Thai you will find the length of Thailand, even if it was preposterously priced for an accompaniment.
Normal service seemed to have resumed as our desserts arrived not long after we finished our main courses.
To our surprise, both were disappointing, my guest choosing the Ice Cream Tord (LE 32), vanilla ice cream deep-fried in a bland and dry mixed coconut and nut batter, and my Sapprared Ob Naam Peung (LE 35), caramelized pineapple and mango sorbet with Konafa.
It was a disappointing conclusion to a fine meal, which came to a hefty total of LE 581 (damn all those taxes!) including alcoholic drinks, of which there is quite a selection on the extensive drinks menu, even including imported European and Australian wines.
For reservations call the Intercontinental Hotel and asked to be transferred through to the Birdcage – 20-2-27957171