Our first ever meal at Rosa’s Thai Café is a bit of a blur. Kris and I (both hammered from a big Saturday night out) stumbled upon the Spitalfields branch late one evening and gorged on their famous Drunken Noodles, which were pure carb comfort. True to its claim, it was the best antidote for our inebriated selves.
However, I still felt there was an unfinished business with Rosa’s, as I hadn’t quite tasted the rest of their food properly. So when the chance came for a big family meal, we saw an opportunity to return.
This time, we visited Rosa’s newest branch in Tower Bridge. In terms of location, it is pretty much spot-on. It’s a short bus ride from London Bridge and minutes from Tower Bridge, so its riverside location will appeal to tourists. However, it is part of One Tower Bridge London – a new residential development – so we spotted plenty of locals walking in too.
Inside, it is not too big, but looks spacious. That’s because the space is flooded with natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows. The rest of the space has a modern, semi-industrial look, with colours of blue, red and green (designed by Moreno Massey).
Rosa’s menu is a mix of Thai staples and a few less familiar dishes. For the starters, we ordered an array of dishes including Thai Calamari (£7.25), Fried Spring Rolls (£6.50), Chicken Satay (£6.75) and Grilled Sausage Northern Style (£7.50). The sausage was gorgeous with a spicy kick that is not to be ignored. The spring rolls were crispy and generously filled. The calamari was a big hit on the table; so much so that we ordered a second portion. On the flip side, the chicken satay (one of my favourite things about Thai food) was dry and missed the mark, which was disappointing.
For mains, this time we steered clear of the Drunken Noodles and instead opted for more mainstream dishes, like Prawn Red Curry (£10.95) and Beef Massaman (£11.25).
The red curry, unfortunately, had the threat of punchy heat missing and was oddly sweet, which was a bit of a let down.
I tried Rosa’s Fried Rice with Beef (£9.25) (Jasmine rice with Rosa’s stir-fry sauce, eggs & spring greens) with an extra crispy fried egg (£1.50). It was a busy dish; the ingredients were all fresh and tasty but again the sauce was sweet and overpowered everything else.
The only dish that was flawless was the Beef Massaman, which was deliciously nutty and full of aromatic flavours.
The staff in general were friendly and accommodating. But there were only three of them pacing around and, at times, the service felt rushed. In fact, one of the customers actually asked one of the the waitresses to slow down and her reply was ‘I have too many customers to serve’.
When I think of Thai food, I think of homespun comfort food, big flavours, sensational smells and plenty of fiery heat. From the parade of dishes we tried, it tasted homely but lacked oomph and was a bit timid. From the starters, everything barring the Chicken Satay was excellent. However, our mains did not live up to the expectations – slanting heavily towards sweet rather than the spicy.
My fear is that, like Franco Manca and its numerous franchises, Rosa’s is growing too fast too soon and the quality is suffering in face of quantity. Maybe it’s time they slowed down and focussed on looking after their staff and ensure the quality of cooking is consistent across all branches.
Location: 2 Duchess Walk, One Tower Bridge, London SE1 2SD
More information can be found here.
N.B. All photos and opinions are mine.