Back in my student days, a must-eat business lunch for me was the Siam Garden. In between my busy schedule of Kimos, Caesar’s Palace and the now defunct Kebab House, I always squeezed in a visit to the Siam on days when I didn’t have lectures as it was near my house. Their three-course and a drink special offers were an open secret amongst us South Liverpudlians; its moody, purple exterior giving people the impression it was a select, pricey venue. Sadly, it started to rest on its laurels, its bad reviews on TripAdvisor and embarrassingly low scores on the food hygiene database Scores on the Doors being testament to its decline. After much Googling, it seemed that it has had a major shake up and I decided to sample its offerings all in the name of research!
Siam Garden offers a business lunch for £6.95- starter, main and dessert plus a soft drink or glass of wine. The addition of a free drink definitely gives it a head start above its local competitors, Fung Lok and Eastern Diner. The restaurant has had a bright, modern refurbishment without appearing too stark and Pizza Express-like, still maintaining the cosy ambience from before. Thai ornaments garnish the windowsill and an eyecatching fishtank complete with Nemo clownfish give the white restaurant a welcome touch of colour.
To start, I opted for the Tempura Vegetables- fluffy, battered carrots, peppers and onions served with a chilli dip. The portion size was extremely generous for a cut-price business lunch, a welcome change from a frozen spring roll oozing oil. My colleague had a chicken and sweetcorn soup but this old favourite came with a zingy twist as it contained spring onion and a hint of lemongrass. The perfect pick-me-up for these Baltic times.
For the main course, I chose the interestingly-named vegetarian Pad Ped, a mix of aubergines, minicorn, mushrooms and an abundance of greens in a sweet-hot sauce served with jasmine rice while my colleague opted for a vegetarian noodle dish which was heightened with coconut milk. Both mains were faultless and a much needed cocktail of vitamins after all the Christmas stodge.
Dessert was a choice between Banana Fritter and coconut ice cream, so we ordered both. The ice cream made a welcome change from Asda smartprice vanilla and was a generous portion, unlike its neighbouring rivals who serve their ice cream in those nasty metal dishes reminiscent of school dinners. There’s not much you can say about banana fritters, they don’t tend to differ but it was a great warmer before we braced the biting January frost.
Siam Garden, good to have you back on top form. May you continue to bring a touch of the exotic to damp, dull Smithdown.