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Eating out with Freddie — Montien Thai Restaurant

37 East Street Bridport DT6 3JX 01308 425570


A criticism sometimes levelled at this column is that it hardly ever visits an ethnic restaurant. True enough, but there have been two reasons for this apparent shortcoming: one, the editor’s doubt about the standards of Dorset’s ethnic restaurants and the other, my own lack of enthusiasm for oriental food.


Both views are going to have to be revised as a result of Mrs Freddie’s and my visit to the Montien in Bridport. Not only was the quality very high, but it proved an interesting and unusual dining experience. As comparative innocents in the matter of Thai food, we put ourselves in the hands of Ton and Yupa, the delightful couple who manage the restaurant. Their dignified attentiveness and pleasure in the discoveries we were making added not a little to our enjoyment of the evening.

Ruam Talay and sauces


For our shared starter they chose for us a Ruam Talay, or mixed seafood: deep-fried crab claws, prawns wrapped in rice paper and Thai fish cakes, along with chicken cooked in aromatic panda leaves. Forget the stodgy things you now find masquerading as Thai fish cakes on so many pub menus – these were light and full of flavour. My favourite was the crab claws, but Mrs Freddie championed the chicken when accompanied by a sesame and soya sauce. This was one of the three sauces which came with the starter, the others being sweet and sour and chilli and peanut. The latter was seriously hot, but not unpleasantly so.


For the main course we accepted Ton’s recommendation of Ped Ma Kham, or roast duck with crispy rice noodles and an exceptionally good tamarind sauce with a hint of ginger. Accompanying it was a Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai, which is a chicken green curry with coconut milk, Thai aubergine, chillies and basil leaves. The menu described this as ‘medium hot’, which left me wondering what the ‘very hot’ dishes do to diners’ throats, but we did enjoy the unusual flavours, particularly the Thai aubergine.


Mrs Freddie accompanied her main course with Khao Pad Khai (fried rice), while I had Pad Thai: noodles with eggs, prawns, chicken bean sprouts and ground peanut. For me these were one of the best things about the meal, a positive riot of flavours. With so many new taste experiences, one of the delights was coming across unexpected pleasures.


A revelation was the Chatemp Thai wine which we chose on the basis that we should do the thing properly. It had a flowery bouquet but a strength which is unusual in a white wine. This meant that it complemented the flavours but was also most refreshing. Apparently some of the grapes are grown in floating vineyards and others in the valley of the River Kwai. It is aged in oak, and Mrs Freddie thought that she caught just a hint of her beloved retsina.


By this time we were pretty full, but didn’t want to disappoint Ton and Yupa when they suggested deep-fried banana and pineapple with ice cream for pudding. We half-expected it to finish us off, but the batter was a very light tempura and the combination of fruit and ice cream most refreshing, even if the pineapple was more successful than the banana.


In fact, although we dined extremely well, we didn’t get the feeling that we were piling on the calories – when did you last see an overweight Thai person? Nor did the meal lie heavy, as cream-based sauces and puddings from European menus can sometimes do. I have already confessed to my previous misgivings about oriental cuisine, but I am at least partly converted, at any rate to Thai food, which I found more subtle than Indian and more varied and interesting than Chinese.


The décor of the Montien is colourful and authentic. Admiring the china, Mrs Freddie peered at the bottom of one of the pieces and announced that it had been hand-painted in Thailand. The piped music is oriental, we ate with spoons and forks made in Thailand and the whole ambience helped to make the experience special. It was also a good deal cheaper than other restaurants of a similar quality, with our meal coming out at just over £20 a head including the wine.


A criticism sometimes levelled at this column is that it hardly ever visits an ethnic restaurant. True enough, but there have been two reasons for this apparent shortcoming: one, the editor’s doubt about the standards of Dorset’s ethnic restaurants and the other, my own lack of enthusiasm for oriental food.


Both views are going to have to be revised as a result of Mrs Freddie’s and my visit to the Montien in Bridport. Not only was the quality very high, but it proved an interesting and unusual dining experience. As comparative innocents in the matter of Thai food, we put ourselves in the hands of Ton and Yupa, the delightful couple who manage the restaurant. Their dignified attentiveness and pleasure in the discoveries we were making added not a little to our enjoyment of the evening.


For our shared starter they chose for us a Ruam Talay, or mixed seafood: deep-fried crab claws, prawns wrapped in rice paper and Thai fish cakes, along with chicken cooked in aromatic panda leaves. Forget the stodgy things you now find masquerading as Thai fish cakes on so many pub menus – these were light and full of flavour. My favourite was the crab claws, but Mrs Freddie championed the chicken when accompanied by a sesame and soya sauce. This was one of the three sauces which came with the starter, the others being sweet and sour and chilli and peanut. The latter was seriously hot, but not unpleasantly so.


For the main course we accepted Ton’s recommendation of Ped Ma Kham, or roast duck with crispy rice noodles and an exceptionally good tamarind sauce with a hint of ginger. Accompanying it was a Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai, which is a chicken green curry with coconut milk, Thai aubergine, chillies and basil leaves. The menu described this as ‘medium hot’, which left me wondering what the ‘very hot’ dishes do to diners’ throats, but we did enjoy the unusual flavours, particularly the Thai aubergine.


Mrs Freddie accompanied her main course with Khao Pad Khai (fried rice), while I had Pad Thai: noodles with eggs, prawns, chicken bean sprouts and ground peanut. For me these were one of the best things about the meal, a positive riot of flavours. With so many new taste experiences, one of the delights was coming across unexpected pleasures.


A revelation was the Chatemp Thai wine which we chose on the basis that we should do the thing properly. It had a flowery bouquet but a strength which is unusual in a white wine. This meant that it complemented the flavours but was also most refreshing. Apparently some of the grapes are grown in floating vineyards and others in the valley of the River Kwai. It is aged in oak, and Mrs Freddie thought that she caught just a hint of her beloved retsina.


By this time we were pretty full, but didn’t want to disappoint Ton and Yupa when they suggested deep-fried banana and pineapple with ice cream for pudding. We half-expected it to finish us off, but the batter was a very light tempura and the combination of fruit and ice cream most refreshing, even if the pineapple was more successful than the banana.


In fact, although we dined extremely well, we didn’t get the feeling that we were piling on the calories – when did you last see an overweight Thai person? Nor did the meal lie heavy, as cream-based sauces and puddings from European menus can sometimes do. I have already confessed to my previous misgivings about oriental cuisine, but I am at least partly converted, at any rate to Thai food, which I found more subtle than Indian and more varied and interesting than Chinese.


The décor of the Montien is colourful and authentic. Admiring the china, Mrs Freddie peered at the bottom of one of the pieces and announced that it had been hand-painted in Thailand. The piped music is oriental, we ate with spoons and forks made in Thailand and the whole ambience helped to make the experience special. It was also a good deal cheaper than other restaurants of a similar quality, with our meal coming out at just over £20 a head including the wine.


A criticism sometimes levelled at this column is that it hardly ever visits an ethnic restaurant. True enough, but there have been two reasons for this apparent shortcoming: one, the editor’s doubt about the standards of Dorset’s ethnic restaurants and the other, my own lack of enthusiasm for oriental food.


Both views are going to have to be revised as a result of Mrs Freddie’s and my visit to the Montien in Bridport. Not only was the quality very high, but it proved an interesting and unusual dining experience. As comparative innocents in the matter of Thai food, we put ourselves in the hands of Ton and Yupa, the delightful couple who manage the restaurant. Their dignified attentiveness and pleasure in the discoveries we were making added not a little to our enjoyment of the evening.

Ped Ma Kham, Pad Thai and

Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai, with Khao Pad Khai


For our shared starter they chose for us a Ruam Talay, or mixed seafood: deep-fried crab claws, prawns wrapped in rice paper and Thai fish cakes, along with chicken cooked in aromatic panda leaves. Forget the stodgy things you now find masquerading as Thai fish cakes on so many pub menus – these were light and full of flavour. My favourite was the crab claws, but Mrs Freddie championed the chicken when accompanied by a sesame and soya sauce. This was one of the three sauces which came with the starter, the others being sweet and sour and chilli and peanut. The latter was seriously hot, but not unpleasantly so.


For the main course we accepted Ton’s recommendation of Ped Ma Kham, or roast duck with crispy rice noodles and an exceptionally good tamarind sauce with a hint of ginger. Accompanying it was a Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai, which is a chicken green curry with coconut milk, Thai aubergine, chillies and basil leaves. The menu described this as ‘medium hot’, which left me wondering what the ‘very hot’ dishes do to diners’ throats, but we did enjoy the unusual flavours, particularly the Thai aubergine.


Mrs Freddie accompanied her main course with Khao Pad Khai (fried rice), while I had Pad Thai: noodles with eggs, prawns, chicken bean sprouts and ground peanut. For me these were one of the best things about the meal, a positive riot of flavours. With so many new taste experiences, one of the delights was coming across unexpected pleasures.


A revelation was the Chatemp Thai wine which we chose on the basis that we should do the thing properly. It had a flowery bouquet but a strength which is unusual in a white wine. This meant that it complemented the flavours but was also most refreshing. Apparently some of the grapes are grown in floating vineyards and others in the valley of the River Kwai. It is aged in oak, and Mrs Freddie thought that she caught just a hint of her beloved retsina.


By this time we were pretty full, but didn’t want to disappoint Ton and Yupa when they suggested deep-fried banana and pineapple with ice cream for pudding. We half-expected it to finish us off, but the batter was a very light tempura and the combination of fruit and ice cream most refreshing, even if the pineapple was more successful than the banana.


In fact, although we dined extremely well, we didn’t get the feeling that we were piling on the calories – when did you last see an overweight Thai person? Nor did the meal lie heavy, as cream-based sauces and puddings from European menus can sometimes do. I have already confessed to my previous misgivings about oriental cuisine, but I am at least partly converted, at any rate to Thai food, which I found more subtle than Indian and more varied and interesting than Chinese.


The décor of the Montien is colourful and authentic. Admiring the china, Mrs Freddie peered at the bottom of one of the pieces and announced that it had been hand-painted in Thailand. The piped music is oriental, we ate with spoons and forks made in Thailand and the whole ambience helped to make the experience special. It was also a good deal cheaper than other restaurants of a similar quality, with our meal coming out at just over £20 a head including the wine.


A criticism sometimes levelled at this column is that it hardly ever visits an ethnic restaurant. True enough, but there have been two reasons for this apparent shortcoming: one, the editor’s doubt about the standards of Dorset’s ethnic restaurants and the other, my own lack of enthusiasm for oriental food.


Both views are going to have to be revised as a result of Mrs Freddie’s and my visit to the Montien in Bridport. Not only was the quality very high, but it proved an interesting and unusual dining experience. As comparative innocents in the matter of Thai food, we put ourselves in the hands of Ton and Yupa, the delightful couple who manage the restaurant. Their dignified attentiveness and pleasure in the discoveries we were making added not a little to our enjoyment of the evening.


For our shared starter they chose for us a Ruam Talay, or mixed seafood: deep-fried crab claws, prawns wrapped in rice paper and Thai fish cakes, along with chicken cooked in aromatic panda leaves. Forget the stodgy things you now find masquerading as Thai fish cakes on so many pub menus – these were light and full of flavour. My favourite was the crab claws, but Mrs Freddie championed the chicken when accompanied by a sesame and soya sauce. This was one of the three sauces which came with the starter, the others being sweet and sour and chilli and peanut. The latter was seriously hot, but not unpleasantly so.


For the main course we accepted Ton’s recommendation of Ped Ma Kham, or roast duck with crispy rice noodles and an exceptionally good tamarind sauce with a hint of ginger. Accompanying it was a Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai, which is a chicken green curry with coconut milk, Thai aubergine, chillies and basil leaves. The menu described this as ‘medium hot’, which left me wondering what the ‘very hot’ dishes do to diners’ throats, but we did enjoy the unusual flavours, particularly the Thai aubergine.


Mrs Freddie accompanied her main course with Khao Pad Khai (fried rice), while I had Pad Thai: noodles with eggs, prawns, chicken bean sprouts and ground peanut. For me these were one of the best things about the meal, a positive riot of flavours. With so many new taste experiences, one of the delights was coming across unexpected pleasures.


A revelation was the Chatemp Thai wine which we chose on the basis that we should do the thing properly. It had a flowery bouquet but a strength which is unusual in a white wine. This meant that it complemented the flavours but was also most refreshing. Apparently some of the grapes are grown in floating vineyards and others in the valley of the River Kwai. It is aged in oak, and Mrs Freddie thought that she caught just a hint of her beloved retsina.


By this time we were pretty full, but didn’t want to disappoint Ton and Yupa when they suggested deep-fried banana and pineapple with ice cream for pudding. We half-expected it to finish us off, but the batter was a very light tempura and the combination of fruit and ice cream most refreshing, even if the pineapple was more successful than the banana.


In fact, although we dined extremely well, we didn’t get the feeling that we were piling on the calories – when did you last see an overweight Thai person? Nor did the meal lie heavy, as cream-based sauces and puddings from European menus can sometimes do. I have already confessed to my previous misgivings about oriental cuisine, but I am at least partly converted, at any rate to Thai food, which I found more subtle than Indian and more varied and interesting than Chinese.


The décor of the Montien is colourful and authentic. Admiring the china, Mrs Freddie peered at the bottom of one of the pieces and announced that it had been hand-painted in Thailand. The piped music is oriental, we ate with spoons and forks made in Thailand and the whole ambience helped to make the experience special. It was also a good deal cheaper than other restaurants of a similar quality, with our meal coming out at just over £20 a head including the wine.


A criticism sometimes levelled at this column is that it hardly ever visits an ethnic restaurant. True enough, but there have been two reasons for this apparent shortcoming: one, the editor’s doubt about the standards of Dorset’s ethnic restaurants and the other, my own lack of enthusiasm for oriental food.


Both views are going to have to be revised as a result of Mrs Freddie’s and my visit to the Montien in Bridport. Not only was the quality very high, but it proved an interesting and unusual dining experience. As comparative innocents in the matter of Thai food, we put ourselves in the hands of Ton and Yupa, the delightful couple who manage the restaurant. Their dignified attentiveness and pleasure in the discoveries we were making added not a little to our enjoyment of the evening.


For our shared starter they chose for us a Ruam Talay, or mixed seafood: deep-fried crab claws, prawns wrapped in rice paper and Thai fish cakes, along with chicken cooked in aromatic panda leaves. Forget the stodgy things you now find masquerading as Thai fish cakes on so many pub menus – these were light and full of flavour. My favourite was the crab claws, but Mrs Freddie championed the chicken when accompanied by a sesame and soya sauce. This was one of the three sauces which came with the starter, the others being sweet and sour and chilli and peanut. The latter was seriously hot, but not unpleasantly so.


For the main course we accepted Ton’s recommendation of Ped Ma Kham, or roast duck with crispy rice noodles and an exceptionally good tamarind sauce with a hint of ginger. Accompanying it was a Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai, which is a chicken green curry with coconut milk, Thai aubergine, chillies and basil leaves. The menu described this as ‘medium hot’, which left me wondering what the ‘very hot’ dishes do to diners’ throats, but we did enjoy the unusual flavours, particularly the Thai aubergine.


Mrs Freddie accompanied her main course with Khao Pad Khai (fried rice), while I had Pad Thai: noodles with eggs, prawns, chicken bean sprouts and ground peanut. For me these were one of the best things about the meal, a positive riot of flavours. With so many new taste experiences, one of the delights was coming across unexpected pleasures.


A revelation was the Chatemp Thai wine which we chose on the basis that we should do the thing properly. It had a flowery bouquet but a strength which is unusual in a white wine. This meant that it complemented the flavours but was also most refreshing. Apparently some of the grapes are grown in floating vineyards and others in the valley of the River Kwai. It is aged in oak, and Mrs Freddie thought that she caught just a hint of her beloved retsina.


By this time we were pretty full, but didn’t want to disappoint Ton and Yupa when they suggested deep-fried banana and pineapple with ice cream for pudding. We half-expected it to finish us off, but the batter was a very light tempura and the combination of fruit and ice cream most refreshing, even if the pineapple was more successful than the banana.

Deep-fried banana and pineapple with ice cream


In fact, although we dined extremely well, we didn’t get the feeling that we were piling on the calories – when did you last see an overweight Thai person? Nor did the meal lie heavy, as cream-based sauces and puddings from European menus can sometimes do. I have already confessed to my previous misgivings about oriental cuisine, but I am at least partly converted, at any rate to Thai food, which I found more subtle than Indian and more varied and interesting than Chinese.


The décor of the Montien is colourful and authentic. Admiring the china, Mrs Freddie peered at the bottom of one of the pieces and announced that it had been hand-painted in Thailand. The piped music is oriental, we ate with spoons and forks made in Thailand and the whole ambience helped to make the experience special. It was also a good deal cheaper than other restaurants of a similar quality, with our meal coming out at just over £20 a head including the wine.


A criticism sometimes levelled at this column is that it hardly ever visits an ethnic restaurant. True enough, but there have been two reasons for this apparent shortcoming: one, the editor’s doubt about the standards of Dorset’s ethnic restaurants and the other, my own lack of enthusiasm for oriental food.


Both views are going to have to be revised as a result of Mrs Freddie’s and my visit to the Montien in Bridport. Not only was the quality very high, but it proved an interesting and unusual dining experience. As comparative innocents in the matter of Thai food, we put ourselves in the hands of Ton and Yupa, the delightful couple who manage the restaurant. Their dignified attentiveness and pleasure in the discoveries we were making added not a little to our enjoyment of the evening.


For our shared starter they chose for us a Ruam Talay, or mixed seafood: deep-fried crab claws, prawns wrapped in rice paper and Thai fish cakes, along with chicken cooked in aromatic panda leaves. Forget the stodgy things you now find masquerading as Thai fish cakes on so many pub menus – these were light and full of flavour. My favourite was the crab claws, but Mrs Freddie championed the chicken when accompanied by a sesame and soya sauce. This was one of the three sauces which came with the starter, the others being sweet and sour and chilli and peanut. The latter was seriously hot, but not unpleasantly so.


For the main course we accepted Ton’s recommendation of Ped Ma Kham, or roast duck with crispy rice noodles and an exceptionally good tamarind sauce with a hint of ginger. Accompanying it was a Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai, which is a chicken green curry with coconut milk, Thai aubergine, chillies and basil leaves. The menu described this as ‘medium hot’, which left me wondering what the ‘very hot’ dishes do to diners’ throats, but we did enjoy the unusual flavours, particularly the Thai aubergine.


Mrs Freddie accompanied her main course with Khao Pad Khai (fried rice), while I had Pad Thai: noodles with eggs, prawns, chicken bean sprouts and ground peanut. For me these were one of the best things about the meal, a positive riot of flavours. With so many new taste experiences, one of the delights was coming across unexpected pleasures.


A revelation was the Chatemp Thai wine which we chose on the basis that we should do the thing properly. It had a flowery bouquet but a strength which is unusual in a white wine. This meant that it complemented the flavours but was also most refreshing. Apparently some of the grapes are grown in floating vineyards and others in the valley of the River Kwai. It is aged in oak, and Mrs Freddie thought that she caught just a hint of her beloved retsina.


By this time we were pretty full, but didn’t want to disappoint Ton and Yupa when they suggested deep-fried banana and pineapple with ice cream for pudding. We half-expected it to finish us off, but the batter was a very light tempura and the combination of fruit and ice cream most refreshing, even if the pineapple was more successful than the banana.


In fact, although we dined extremely well, we didn’t get the feeling that we were piling on the calories – when did you last see an overweight Thai person? Nor did the meal lie heavy, as cream-based sauces and puddings from European menus can sometimes do. I have already confessed to my previous misgivings about oriental cuisine, but I am at least partly converted, at any rate to Thai food, which I found more subtle than Indian and more varied and interesting than Chinese.


The décor of the Montien is colourful and authentic. Admiring the china, Mrs Freddie peered at the bottom of one of the pieces and announced that it had been hand-painted in Thailand. The piped music is oriental, we ate with spoons and forks made in Thailand and the whole ambience helped to make the experience special. It was also a good deal cheaper than other restaurants of a similar quality, with our meal coming out at just over £20 a head including the wine.


On the wall of the Montien is a picture of 37 East Street in 1900, when it was a saddler’s premises. What would the good people of West Dorset who bought their harness there a hundred years ago make of the exotic dishes which are now produced on the same premises? Not much, probably, but we are fortunate to be of a generation which has had the opportunity to try the new experiences which comes from a shrinking world.


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