Tucked away on Little Portland Street you can find Ora, a sleek Thai restaurant packed with style and classy food in a low-lit, well balanced atmosphere perfectly pitched to entice people on any sort of evening.
With a black and pink colour scheme echoed by Max Mara’s fashionable t-shirt designs for the waiters, you sense that potentially the restaurant might fall foul to the ever saturated market of style-over-substance restaurants desperately seeking A-listers. But Ora certainly had a well balanced and at times fantastic menu to match what was clearly a bold, slick, fashionable interior statement.
Manager Nok Murphy, of Awana and The Mango Tree, alongside ex-Busaba Eathai chef, Tamas Khan, combined with a cocktail specialist in the form of ex-Quaglino’s mixologist, Ivanic Branislav, are a formidable team and set about delivering from the moment we sat at the table. The signature cocktails featuring Thai flavours of lemongrass, ginger, coriander, every sort of berry and exotic touches, from lychee to longan juice, are extremely refreshing and uniquely good, as was the wine list which included some recently developed Thai wines.
Having a perfect climate, it is not surprising that Thailand has entered the wine market. I was intrigued to discover that they were produced by Red Bull the company which, as you may or may not know, grew out of the discovery of the potent caffeine-over-the-counter tonic for Thai workers, found in a small bottle, the label featuring two bulls.
The tom yum goong soup (traditional Thai soup), that was quite literally the taste of Thailand, was exquisite and, like the cocktails, an excellently considered mix of flavours. If I had to fault the restaurant it would be that starter platter was, unfortunately, a little bland. The fish cakes, spring rolls and chargrilled chicken with satay, were passable. The platter was rescued however by some of the nicest well-cooked calamari with garlic and black pepper sauce I have tasted, and redeemed by king prawns cooked with kaffir leaves that were divine.
The grilled duck breast with tamarind sauce and red cabbage was worth the review on its own; faultless, unless of course you don’t like tamarind sauce, which is again a unique and unexpected accompaniment to duck. The king scallops and the Thai red curry chicken were also excellent. On looking through the menu it was clear that there wasn’t a single dish which hadn’t been authored in some way. This is traditional Thai cooking blended with an expert eye for flavour.
The manager tentatively brought out a single portion of durian ice cream for our dessert. The durian fruit is banned from public transport in Thailand because its pervasive pungent odour can produce reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust.
Luckily the ice cream was a perfect and deeply appreciated ending to a lovely meal and the second portion swiftly came through the kitchen doors after our initial reaction had been noted. Ora is a well thought out restaurant punching above its weight in a tough market and with a sense of purpose about its food, style and service. It seems a shame that they feel it necessary to mention the likes of the Sugababes on their website, most of the food speaks for itself.
6 Little Portland Street
Tel: 020 7637 0125