A husband and wife team. David is originally from London but moved to South Africa when he was 9 where he met and married Brigitte over 20 years ago. We have now been living in England for the past 7 years. We both have a love of good food, dining out and all things to do with life style. We will be reviewing restaurants, products and giving foodie and life style tips. All our reviews are unbiased.
This was our third visit to Kwai 2 and once again they did not disappoint. They are a Thai restaurant tucked away in the area of Lychpit in Basingstoke. If it was not for my Mum-in-law seeing an advertisement they had in the Chineham chat, we would never have discovered them and what a loss that would have been to our family who loves Thai food. All three times we have gone at lunch time on a Saturday and they have been very quite, why I don't know. From the outside you would not even know that they existed, if it was not for a tatty old banner hanging from the building. The building itself is lovely an old barn. Whether you are looking for an intimate dinner for two, a venue for your department to meet and then dine, or a selection of Thai Light Bites with a glass of crisp white wine, a warm welcome awaits you at Kwai 2. With three separate dining areas, ample free car parking and a spacious bar they are able to accommodate you. Their décor is not Thai at all, maybe the odd ornament or two, but who cares when the food is great and the service good. Their menu covers all tastes and is easy to understand.
To start with we ordered two of their Mixed Starters for two at £12.95 each. There were four of us, just to clear things up. A selection of mixed starters which includes chicken satay, vegetable spring rolls, prawn tempura, prawns on bread and fish cakes. Sorry to say we were all too hungry and just climbed in, so sadly no photograph, but take my word for it, it was delicious. I did manage to take a photo of the dipping sauces.
We washed the starters down with a lovely bottle of Pinot Grigio at £15.80. I have never tried Colp di Fortuna before, it is an Italian wine and we truly remarkable. One of the best Pinot Grigio' I have ever tasted.
For my mains I had Stir Fried Chicken with Cashew Nutsw (Phad Med Mamung Himmapan at £7.50 with steamed rice at R3.00. Stir fried chicken with cashew nuts, onion, mushrooms and roasted chillies. This was truly scrumptious is the only was I can describe it. One of the best Thai meals I have had.
David and Danielle decided to share a started for their mains and had the Aromatic Duck (Ped Hor) at £8.95 along with a Coconut rice at £3.25 and a Egg Fried rice at £3.25.
A special oriental snack or appetizer, marinated duck stewed in herbs, accompanied by hoi-sin sauce, steamed pancakes, cucumber and spring onions. From the silence at their side of the table, I gather they were enjoying it.
My Mum-in-Law had their Steamed Seabass at £10.95. Steamed fillet of fish with lemon grass in three flavours special sauce. She said that it was one of the best dishes she had had in a long time. I must say she is fanatical about Thai food and would have it for breakfast, lunch and supper if she could.
Kwai 2 is a hidden gem in Basingstoke and a definite must if you love Thai food. The presentation of the food is spectacular and the taste even better. The staff are never in your face and there when you need them. With one dessert, a bottle of wine, cokes and Jasmine tea the total bill for four of us came to £103.60. Our third visit will not be our last.
North’s leading hospitality trade show,Northern Restaurant & Bar,will return toManchester
Centralfrom 5 to 6 March 2013and will be 20% larger than
last year, with almost 6,000 visitors expected over two days.
With top chefs includingSimon RoganandAldo Zilliheadlining the Chef Live theatre, and
tie-ups with leading Manchester operators,Almost FamousBurgers andThe
Port St Beer House,this
year’s Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB) will host an additional 50 exhibitor
stands bringing the total number of food, drink and catering suppliers at this,
the twelfth NRB, to 200.
The hospitality showcase will welcome exhibitors and trade-only
visitors including restaurateurs, hoteliers, publicans, chefs, deli owners and
bartenders from across the north of England, and acts as a hub for a number of
satellite events including hosting major launches for Hotel Future, the
national training academy, and industry charities Hospitality Action and Action
As well as being a hotspot for hospitality networking and
inspiration, NRB will also stage cookery demonstrations from well-known
industry stars plus tutored beer and wine tastings, cocktail demonstrations and
fine food displays. Welcoming emerging artisan producers alongside premium
brands, the show will give visitors an opportunity to explore everything from
the latest microbrewery craft ales, award winning meats, cheeses and wines
through to epos systems and the finest tableware.
The NRB Top 50
Organisers of this year’s event will also be announcing the
second annualNRB Top 50line-up. The list, which will be
chosen by a panel of judges from Holden Media and the Russell Partnership, will
honour 50 individuals from influential operators in the north of England. New
for 2013 will be three special achievement winners which will be announced live
on the first day of the show. Those selected will be chosen based on their
successes, achievements and their impact on the northern hospitality industry.
The popularChef Livecookery theatre will return to NRB
this year hosting big name chefs includingSimon Roganof l’Enclume and Roganic;Aldo
Carlo Cicchetti;Aiden Byrneof Manchester House;Steven
Lakeland Cafe andDave Mooneyof the Lord Binning and the Old
The show’sFine Food Villagewill be dedicated to local and
regional producers of the highest quality and, in partnership with Game to Eat,
will feature a special section promoting wild British game meat. Game to Eat
will be giving butchery technique demonstrations and there will be an
appearance by a UK BBQ champion.
For bartenders looking to learn new skills and discover new
drinks, theLiquor Theatrewill be a must-see. Curated by Dave
Marsland, the Drinks Enthusiast, visitors will have the chance to watch
demonstrations and competitions, and sample the latest spirit brands in the
Manchester’sSocio Rehabwill be adding a touch of magic with a
little help from their friends,Almost FamousBurgers.
From Belgian beers to Japanese wine, theGrape
will host tutored tastings of wines and beers from around the world. This will
also house ‘Port Street
Beer Housepresents Meet The Brewer'sessions, in which the brains behind
the award-winning bar will showcase some of their favourite craft beers.
Northern Restaurant & Bar’s managing director, Thom
Hetherington, said: “Last year’s NRB was a tremendous success and it has
enabled us to grow the 2013 show by 20 per cent. Our stellar line-up of chefs
and drinks experts will provide visitors with an inspiring programme of events
which will marry perfectly with our brilliant suppliers and producers, creating
what we hope will be our best show yet.
“The North has impressive industry credentials to support such a
show with 42 per cent1of
all hospitality establishments based here and a £14 billion2turnover meaning NRB is, for thousands
in the business, a must-see event for networking, sourcing and inspiration.”
Even though they
are working and you're not, it doesn't mean anything goes when it comes to
restaurant staff. Etiquette and manners still apply and the relationship
between the restaurant and the patron goes both ways.
When it comes down to it, the vast majority of restaurant owners and
employees are hardworking people that do their best to ensure that you have an
enjoyable dining experience. Their job depends on it, after all. But little
things, like making eye contact or talking on your mobile / cell phone, can
make all the difference to the staff.
Respect the staff
and the staff will respect you
Almost everyone I know has either
worked in a restaurant at some point or is close to someone who has. While
restaurant staff does serve you your food, there is a big difference between a
server and a servant. Respecting the staff is not only the right thing to do,
but when they feel respected and appreciated, it almost always leads to better
service. Long gone are the divisions between the classes of people that work in
restaurants versus those who dine in them. Common courtesies like looking your
server or busser in the eye and saying "please" and "thank
you" should not be overlooked.
One thing that does annoy me is when the waiter tends to think they are
better than you if for example you can’t pronounce some fancy dish, we are all
equal here, I just came out to have a nice evening not to be judged.
Chances are waiters have tried most
of what is offered on the menu. They see the food being made, served and
enjoyed on a daily basis and probably have a pretty good idea of what are the
best menu items. Ask what they personally like to eat and why it is their
favourite. If you feel like your waiter is just suggesting the most expensive
thing on the menu to increase their tip, ask them to tell you why they prefer
the fillet over the meatloaf. You don't have to go with their first suggestion,
but at the very least, you will have more information to take into account when
making your decision.
Be ready to order
If you tell your waiter you're ready
to order, be ready. There isn't much that is more frustrating for a waiter to
have to stand at your table while you are contemplating the pasta versus the
steak for 10 minutes. Unless you have specific questions, tell the waiter you
would like a few more minutes to decide. If it's a busy night, they probably
have a dozen other things they could be doing, and standing idly for a few
minutes can really set them back.
Tell the manager
how your experience was
Many restaurant managers only get
requested to come to a table when there is a complaint. A big part of a
manager's job is to ensure customer satisfaction and deal with any issues that
arise, but it is also nice and greatly appreciated, to hear positive feedback
as well. If you had a particularly helpful waiter, tell them. Or, better yet,
tell their manager. Restaurant work often feels like an under appreciated job,
so a seemingly small compliment can make a huge difference.
Don’t you find that whenever the manager or waiter comes to your table
you tend to have a mouth full of food? Coincidence…? I like being asked if I've had a good evening or if my food was okay but not every 10 minutes, I will find
you if something is wrong.
Tipping is not expected
in the UK in the way it is in the United States or Canada. All staff in the UK,
must by law, be paid at least minimum wage (£6.08/hour as of 2012, unless aged
under 21), whether or not they receive tips. Therefore, unlike in much of North
America, the need and culture for tipping is much less.
Cafes and coffee shops
In a cafe, you may
receive waitress service to bring your tea, coffee, sausages, or whatever you
have ordered to the table. In these establishments tipping is not usual. If you
feel the service has been especially pleasant you can leave a pound or your
change in appreciation.
In coffee shops, such as
Starbucks, there may be a tip jar on the counter, but very few customers offer
In casual cafeterias,
where you collect your food and place it on a tray, commonly found in tourist
attractions, you wouldn't really tip, as you have basically served yourself.
In casual restaurants,
where you pay for your order at a counter, but food is brought to your table,
tipping is uncommon.
In restaurants where you
place your order with your waiter/waitress and receive food, and your bill, at
your table, it is usual to tip around 10%. The expectation does vary from place
to place - in fine dining restaurants where you receive personal service, a tip
would always be expected (while never compulsory, it would be considered rude
unless there was a problem with the service), whereas in the most casual of
restaurants tipping is not universal.
If you have been unhappy
with the service, you really shouldn't feel like you have leave a tip.
In some restaurants, a
service charge may be added to the bill, typically 10% or 12.5%. This should be
noted on the menu, sometimes only for larger groups. If it is not, it would be
appropriate to object, to ask that it be removed. If you are otherwise unhappy
with the service, you should also request that it be removed, explaining your
In any case where a
service charge is added, or the menu notes 'service included', you really don’t
have to add any further tip, you’ll soon be out of pocket if you did. Beware
that in some cases a service charge may appear on your bill, and if you pay by
credit card the machine may then ask if you want to add a tip. Check your bill
to see if a service charge has been added before paying, and if it has, be sure
not to add any more on at the machine.
Do tip on the full bill:Even if you're using a
Groupon, gift card or other discount, you should still tip on the full amount
of food and drinks ordered and served.
Don’t switch tables
without asking the host
Figuring out what parties are going
where is often like a game of Tetris. On a busy night, if a table or two gets
moved around, the entire arrangement could crumble, leading to chaos for staff
and customers alike. If you are unhappy with the table you are seated at, speak
up right away. Tell the host why you would prefer a different table and allow
him or her the time to look into switching your table.
Don’t overstay your
When you're paying to dine out, you
should certainly stay as long as it takes to leisurely enjoy your meal and
beverages. But if you've finished dessert an hour ago and the only things left
on your table are water glasses and a bill, don't camp out all night. Most
restaurants need to turn tables at least a couple of times in a night in order
to make a profit, and it can seriously hurt them when a few tables linger well
past a reasonable time frame. Not being able to turn those tables can easily
make the difference between a good night and a bad night. It's never fun to be the table that had a
reservation but is not able to be seated because of lingering tables.
Don’t talk on your mobile
/ cell phone
We've all sent a quick text here or
there when dining at a restaurant, but full out conversations on your mobile /
cell phone are universally against restaurant etiquette. It is extremely rude
to those who are trying to serve you and is annoying for fellow customers. If
you must make or receive a phone call, step outside the restaurant and keep it
Don’t send back a
bottle because you don't like it
The purpose of tasting a bottle of
wine is not to let you decide if you like it. It is to let you discern if the
bottle is oxidized or has anything wrong with it. If you're unfamiliar with
most of the wine on the list, or if you want to branch out and try something
new, ask to speak with the sommelier or beverage manager. Tell them what you
are looking for in a wine and let them offer a suggestion before you have them
open a bottle that you don't know much about. If their suggestion is nothing
like what they described, then it is OK to let them know. If you chose the wine
on your own and there is nothing wrong with it, then you should stick with it.
No-show for a
If you've made a reservation, the
restaurant is holding one of their tables specifically for you. If you're not
going to make it, be sure to call the restaurant to let them know -- and give
them as much notice as possible. Restaurants often turn away patrons when they
have empty tables because they are saving them for those who made a
reservation. There is not much that is more frustrating for a restaurant
manager -- or the service staff -- than an empty table that didn't need to be.
Foodies, food-lovers, epicures, culinarians, overly enthusiastic
omnivores… whatever you want to call them, they all have one thing in common:
an extreme passion and appreciation for food. Whether it’s cooking food, eating
food, or simply discussing food, they get lost in the multi-sensory experience
and start speaking in tongues that are usually indecipherable to others. If you
are one of these people (like myself), you know how often you straddle that
line between adorable food-geek and pretentious food-snob. I slipped over to
the dark side a week or so ago when I caught myself uttering the phrase “I am
SO into heirloom tomatoes right now…” and then proceeded to give a recipe for
my heirloom tomato, feta, bacon and watermelon salad without being prompted to.
Even though my recipe might be delicious, I immediately thought to myself “wow,
I sound like an ass.”
Here’s the thing most of us food-people don’t realize: nobody cares.
Unless the subject in question is a food-person too (or a non-food person with
a potluck to go to), no one wants to hear about the flavor profiles of the
“sinfully decadent” soufflé you made or the ideal cacao percentage to use for
baking. We assume that since it’s food and it’s something we all partake in
every day, that it’s ok to wax on and on about… wax beans. Well, it’s not. It’s
the same as a computer-geek talking to you about the new operating system for
the iPhone when all you know about the iPhone is that it has Angry Birds and
Words with Friends. Most people just eat to live, and we live to eat;
significant difference, for sure, but there has to be a way the two worlds can
coexist peaceably without pretension.
We always see food blogs and magazines teaching us how to pronounce
things correctly and how to expertly pair wines with cheeses and that’s all
well and good… but what about us? Shouldn't there be some guidelines to keep us
humble and in the adorable food-geek zone? I give you: The Do’s and Don’ts of
pronunciations unless it’s absolutely necessary. If Italians can get away with
dropping vowels, you can let your friends pick them up. “Moozarell” and “Mozzarella”
mean the same thing to waiters. I promise.
DO take it upon
yourself to be the designated cook/ host when your friends or family are having
a party. You know you love to cook, they know you love to cook, and hey, you’re
good at it! So why not let everyone else take a break while you put those foodie
talents to good use? And if you can’t cook everything, at the very least you
should make ONE dish. Everyone will enjoy themselves, and no one will suffer
food poisoning from Aunt Gail’s chicken masala again.
DON’Tpush your friends
into trying foods outside of their comfort zone. It’s fine to ask and give some
reasons why they should — go ahead, foodie, give your pitch! If they still
don’t budge, give up. Not everyone is going to enjoy quinoa-crusted, deep fried
oysters on the half shell with a creamy pisco pepper and garlic sauce. Those
are to die for, by the way. Sorry couldn't help myself. #foodsnobproblems
taste of something. This isn'tTop Chef. If someone
asks you how your salmon/steak/chicken was, say, “it’s okay… a little
overcooked but not bad.” DON’T say, “underwhelming. I expected more of this
place. I mean, is it SO hard to pan-sear a steak in a cast iron skillet and
finish it off in the oven to a nice medium rare? The juices have hardly been
retained. They must have not let it rest long enough. Way to ruin a perfectly
good piece of meat. Do two Michelin stars mean the meat tastes like tires? Ugh.
OH you know who makes a GREAT steak? That little hole in the wall place on
West… something… do you know what I’m talking about? No? Well whatever. Yeah.
THEIR steak is ahhhmaaazzzinnggg.” Food. Snob.
DON’Tpan a place simply
because everyone else loves it and you want to be different. People often think
this makes them seem like they have a more refined palate than the masses.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but generally speaking, this doesn't make you sound knowledgeable; it makes you sound like an ass. “Shake Shack?
Please. It’s garbage. I've had better burgers in gas stations.” No you haven’t
and you know it. Shut up.
REMAIN open for advice
and food discussion. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a 15-minute
conversation about kitchen gadgets, if the other person is willingly continuing
it. Some people are closet food-geeks, and this is the perfect opportunity to
bond with co-workers or that cute guy/ girl in the office. “Oh, you need help
selecting a cheese grater, you say? Well, I happen to have to go to Sur La
Table anyway to buy a new microplane. Why don’t we go together? And perhaps
grab some artisan cheese samples and wine afterward?” Foodie dates rule.
ALWAYS steer clear of
high prices when giving restaurant recommendations to friends. Unless the
friend specifically said “money is not an object,” most people don’t want to pay
£28 for five pieces of butternut squash ravioli lightly sautéed in sage butter.
No matter how good it might be. As my mom so delicately put it, “unless there’s
money inside the ravioli, that’s f$%&ing insane.”
Whether it's Claridges, Pizza Express or Burger King with a voucher, you've got rights when eating in a restaurant.
So whether your question's can you get free tap water? Is the service charge a must? How to split the bill? Or what if the food isn’t up to scratch?... this quick Q&A should help.
What rights do you have in restaurants?
A restaurant is a service-based industry and, just like with banks, mobile phone giants or airlines, there are laws that dictate the level of service you can expect. The prime protection comes from theSupply of Goods and Services Act 1982.This demands that any service provided in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (common law in Scotland has similar effect), should be carried out with …
Reasonable care & skill, within a reasonable time & at a reasonable cost
You may think this sounds a bit woolly, and indeed it is. The key term is "reasonable" and this is open to definition. The easy way to think about it is 'if you asked a sensible, fair-minded friend, would they agree it wasn't reasonable?'. Ultimately, if you can't agree with the restaurant, the final arbiter is the court. Yet specific rules have grown up for various circumstances.
Restaurant Rights Q&A
I made a booking but turned up to find I'd been double-booked. This ruined my night out, what can I do?
If you booked a table at a restaurant you created a binding contract. If the meal is cancelled by the restaurant you can claim a reasonable sum to cover the cost of travelling and possibly for any disappointment or inconvenience eg, if the meal was for a special occasion.
If you pre-paid for the food, you are entitled to this money back too.
To claim, you have to write to the restaurant and ask them to refund your travel cost and your loss of enjoyment (if you think this applies). You should explain you're willing to take the matter further and consider legal action. If you do not get the response you hoped for you should file a claim with the small claims court. Yet ifyoubook a table and don't turn up or bother to let them know, you've made a contract so the restaurant could, in theory, sue you for compensation. This rarely happens in practice though.
The food wasn't hot enough or tasted off, and I was ill later that night. Can I get my money back?
All food should be ofsatisfactory quality, including being at the right temperature when it's served. If it isn't, you can claim a full or partial refund depending on the problem. Although it can be hard to prove the meal that's caused your illness.
When food is poorly cooked, eg you tuck into a chicken breast to find it pink and semi-frozen, then complain immediately. Food must also be prepared withreasonable care and skill. It's one thing to allow food to stand and go cold, but another not to cook it! You should always bring up the issue within the restaurant and ask it to replace the dish.
If you're struck down with a tummy bug after a meal and can prove it's the restaurant's fault (which can be difficult), you can ask for compensation. You're entitled to claim for the cost of the dish, any pain or suffering, loss of earnings if you were off work and any other expenses incurred as a direct result of the food poisoning.
If this approach doesn't work you can file a personal injury claim of up to £1,000 with the small claims court. Be aware that the restaurant is only liable to pay individual dishes that were unsatisfactory.
What if I didn't get ill, but the food simply wasn't up to scratch?
It's totally legal to refuse to pay because you believe the food was not of satisfactory quality. You should explain the reasons to the restaurant and leave your name and address. However, many restaurants can become angry at this and may pressure you into paying. If this is the case you should write on the back of the bill that you are "paying under protest".
You should also report the establishment and incident to your local environmental health service, as this may pose a health risk and be a criminal offence under theFood Safety Actif the food is unfit for human consumption.
Great meal, but rotten service. I hated paying an extra 10 per cent but felt that it wasn't fair not to. Could I have refused to?
You could. The quicker restaurants stop being rewarded for poor service, the better. Even if the restaurant includes the service charge on the bill, you do NOT have to pay it – it is purely voluntary. So if you've had shocking poor service, or don't believe the amount set is appropriate you can reduce it or not pay it at all. If the service charge's already absorbed within the food cost, you are still legally entitled to deduct a reasonable amount (eg, 10%) if the service was not as expected
If they cause a fuss and say you have to pay, leaving you feeling forced into it, then pay 'under protest' and dispute the cost later to ensure you are protected against any action.
I'm sick of paying for expensive bottled water. Can I always get a glass of tap water for free?
Surprisingly the answer is no. Restaurants don't have to provide tap water to the public and if they do they can charge for it. However it is illegal for them to pretend it's bottled water. Luckily most restaurants don't have a problem giving tap water nowadays and the Consumer Council of Wateris trying to promote this everywhere, so the problem should be rare. New licensing conditions that came into effect in April 2010 mean pubs, clubs and bars are obliged to provide free water where reasonably available. Unfortunately, this doesn't include restaurants.
Should there always be a toilet in a restaurant?
All restaurants should provide toilets for their staff, and wherever possible for customers as well, especially if they have more than 15 seats. Premises that are open after 11pm or have a drinks licence must have toilets though.
What's the fairest way to split the bill?
If you're out with friends, this is a perennial argument, and there is no specific law to cover it. The two most common methods are either splitting it equally- which can result in unfairness especially to those who order less – or everyone going through the bill for their items, which can take an age and lead to arguments about who had what. One other option is Martin's 'easy honour' system, here's an extract of the explanation from hisMoney Diet book.
"At the end of the meal, everyone should contribute what they think they owe, including the tip. Most people get it roughly right, but of course when you total up you'll almost always be short; it's human nature.
"So divide the shortfall by the number of people - lets say there's £50 difference and 10 friends, everybody then puts in an extra £5. It may not be completely accurate, but it's a quick and easy way for people to pay near enough what they should. It helps you budget, without losing friends or looking too mean."
Where can I find out more on my consumer shopping rights?
For more info on your statutory shopping rights see the mainConsumer Rightsguide. Plus to find out how to protect yourself in advance and be aware of criminal actions by companies see theConsumer Protectionguide.