Last year for my birthday, a few my favourite ladies and I gathered in the Belgravia branch of Mango Tree. We gossiped travel news over cocktails,
caught up on life over noodles and whittled away a few hours as our meal appeared on the lacquered table. I’ve never been to Thailand myself (a situation that needs to be sorted stat) and unfortunately can’t comment on the authenticity of the flavours, but our fragrant dishes were the perfect antitheses to a crisp autumn evening.
When I was recently invited to review the Mango Tree branch at
Harrods I couldn’t wait to see what the more cozy venue would be like. Making my way through the beautifully luxurious rooms of the department store, I headed for my favorite section, the gorgeously ornamented Food Hall.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Mango Tree Harrods but my (very many) opinions
only ever my own. Read on…
Far more informal than the large elder sister restaurant, the feng shui designed layout of Mango Tree is tucked into a corner as respite for weary shoppers mid-splurge. Joined for my mid-week blate by the lovely Aftab, we settled into our catch-up with a rather lovely glass of French Sancerre (a Loire originating Domaine Gerard Millet, I believe).
After a quick look at the dishes of our fellow diners (who seemed to perch, order then selfie, wine in hand) we decided to road test the DimSum menu, trying the chicken dumplings in Szechuan sauce, lobster & coriander dumplings and prawn and chive dumplings.
My lovely date isn’t much of a seafood fan and preferred the chicken dumplings which were lovely to the bite. My favourites were the lobster & coriander dumplings, winning both the appearance stakes and with a beautiful balance of flavor I could have nibbled all day.
Arriving slightly after the rest of our dim sum, the pork buns (which I got to keep all to myself as the chicken weren’t available much to the disappointment of Aftab) were amazing. Soft, slightly sweet clouds of steamed Cantonese street food filled with barbecue-flavored cha siu pork took me straight back to the memory of Sunday dim sum feasts in New Zealand.
Our waitress suggested we also try a couple of her Thai favourites, the Gaeng phed ped yang pon la ma – a red curry with roasted duck, grape, pineapple and cherry tomatoes served in a pineapple shell with steamed fragrant jasmine rice – and the crispy spring chicken.
We both loved the presentation of the red duck curry served with fluffy white rice (as an aside, I was so pleased to realise that my chopstick wrangling skills though inelegant are still there) and the surprising pairing of soft flavours. The crispy spring chicken was a really interesting alternative to crispy duck, which I loved dipped into the moreish sweet and sour sauce.
Unfortunately, there was a slightly less elegant side
of our meal. The bar is definitely one for sampling a hot-off-the-grill
dim sum and a glass for something reviving (perhaps even a selfie) in between collecting shopping bags.
Whilst we were there, we noticed people popped
over, sat for 15-20 minutes then paid the bill and resumed their
browsing. As such, my date and I’s slow perusal of the menu (this isn’t unusual behavior though – at the end
of shopping I adore relaxing, sparking drink in hand – after all
one has to lug one purchases home right?) seemed to
confuse the many staff and we were slightly badgered in their
eagerness to take our order. Then, our
dishes came out minus one which had been forgotten to their apologetic
insistence that it would only take a few minutes to make, which it did.
But, worst of all we found a hair tucked in one of the crispy chicken slices. After trying to catch the attention of someone (they had all disappeared somehow), we raised it with the waitress who inspected the hair and then my barnet suspiciously several times before taking the hair away and offering to replace the dish. Unfortunately we were fairly far into our nibbling so declined, but felt let down.
Knowing how much we enjoyed our meal at the Belgravia branch, I definitely want to give Mango Tree another chance the next time I’m in the area (the next night Aftab popped to Pan Chai, the Japanese sister restaurant across the hall – spoiler: he loved it despite not being a seafood fan…)