Jonathan Schofield eats out at a restaurant that could double as a Bond movie set
I should have been dressed in an outfit from the 1980s then I might have matched Jitrada’s interior décor. Or maybe that should be the 1970s.
The interior of this Sale restaurant needs to be listed. Is there a category for ‘kitsch and cheesy’? There should be and Jitrada should be included.
Apparently Jitrada means ‘a joyful mind’ and if so, applies to the staff who never stopped smiling at us
In some respects I felt I was on the set for a Bond film with Roger Moore set in the Far East. Just inside the entrance there’s a pool with massive carp which you cross by a rickety bridge. The pool would contain piranhas in the Bond movie and a villain would be eaten alive in it. There are thin partition walls which ‘muscle’ could crash through during the fight scene while the wall decorations and statuettes of Thai deities would prove handy as weapons.
The other elements of the décor are less exotic. The ceiling has polystyrene tiles which makes me think this was once a furniture showroom. Upstairs, where the loos are, there’s woodchip wallpaper and an atmosphere more reminiscent of a dentist’s waiting room from a time when mobile phones where the size of an otter.
None of this is meant as a criticism, I had a thoroughly good time at Jitrada which certainly lives up to its name. Apparently Jitrada means ‘a joyful mind’ and if so, applies to the staff who never stopped smiling at us and being attentive.
There was one waiter in particular, new apparently, who was cheeky but funny. On one occasion when I’d gone to the loo he deadpanned to a dining partner: “Your friend has left, he said, can you take his jacket and pay the bill.” Of course, context is everything in humour and it was his big smile as he said these things that was funny. Especially while sat in 1985.
A nice touch was when he brought the cutlery and looked at one of the forks, wasn’t satisfied, shook his head and went to get another one. Of course, every server worth their salt should do this. But it was nice to see good practice demonstrated.
The food was fine and the crockery occasionally startling. The starters came on ceramic straight from the display sideboard in everybody’s grandma’s living room: big porcelain leaves.
The food was also largely brown which reflects our choice rather than any restaurant plan to match the décor. A different choice would have provided more colour.
The curry leaf prawn starter (£8) was wonderful. Beautifully timed prawns in a gentle tempura batter that said hello to the tastebuds in a very polite yet distinctive manner. I experimented by wrapping them up in the leaves they sat on with bits of the chopped onion and they were even better.
The fish cakes (£7) were enjoyable too but not quite as distinctive as the prawns although the sweet chilli sauce and crushed peanuts enhanced matters. The lamb curry (£11), creamy with coconut, provided good flavour especially with a jasmine rice - second after the prawns in order of preference.
Chu chee seabass (£19) had a good sauce with a lift from lime leaves and basil but the fish fillets were overcooked and consequently lacked the requisite delicacy. Meanwhile a bowl of stir-fry soft noodles and beansprouts (£5) was so hearty it remained unfinished. It was doggie bagged.
Here’s a tip. For breakfast the following day, I heated the noodles and beansprouts up in a well-buttered frying pan, stuck in a couple of eggs and gave it all a stir. Over a door wedge piece of freshly baked bread this was a breakfast for a king that provided a good six hours of nourishment.
I really enjoyed my evening in strange old Sale. Jitrada was fun, a neighbourhood restaurant with a soupçon of eccentricity.
Eating out is, as we all know, about a combination of things. Food is important but so is the company. When the design of a place, deliberately or accidentally, delivers its own entertainment then that helps the whole occasion along. Add to that a crazy waiter and good service and you're laughing, literally. I must suburb-hop more frequently. Which should I try next? I’m thinking Eccles, see what I discover.
Jitrada Thai Restaurant, 11-15 Tatton Road, Sale, M33 7EB
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All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself
Prawns 7, fish cake 6, seabass 5, lamb 6, rice 6, soft noodles 6
Happy people with an exceptionally absurd in a good way, waiter
Lively but the out-of-date was the hit