Thursday, 28 August 2008
Busaba Eathai, Marylebone
I always thought it was strange you didn't see more Busabas around town; given that every time a new one opens the queue to get in stretches around the block there was clearly enough pent-up demand. Now the inevitable has happened and Busaba is Going Nationwide, but more on that later.
I've already said I'm a big fan of Busaba Wardour Street, which if you can get there at some odd time like 3:30pm or 11am, it's possible to get in and get a table without too much trouble. 7:30 on a Friday night you can forget it, obviously, but which idiot wanders into Soho at 7:30 on a Friday night and expects to get a table somewhere decent without a reservation?
But this post isn't about Busaba Wardour Street - last Saturday I visited the Bird Street branch, tucked around the back of Selfridges. The queue, predictably, was offputting, but it's a much bigger space than the Soho joint and so we found ourselves seated within about ten minutes - not bad.
Between the 5 of us we had a selection of small dishes from the sensibly pitched menu - chicken wings and tamarind sauce (really lovely actually), Prawn pomelo (an old favourite, served on edible green leaves for the novelty factor), crispy Thai calamari and a bowl of gorgeous Mussaman duck curry - still my favourite item after all these years. Service was brisk and friendly, and even the odd seating arrangements didn't seem to rankle as much this time, perhaps because there were enough of us to fit on two sides of a table and we could all hear the conversation - past experiences haven't been so social.
It all went down very well of course, and along with a little jug of hot sake the bill came to around £18. There's very little to moan about at Busaba - it's competent, fresh cooking delivered with flair and - the Holy Grail of chains - the standards don't seem to vary between branches. I am aware that this post may simply be preaching to the converted - if you live in London you've probably been many times already. If you don't live here, however, you won't have to wait too long - around 30 branches are set for rollout across the UK in the next five years. Go soon, before the sheen wears off and it just becomes another Wagamamas.