I feel a bit churlish saying it but there is something just a bit cliched and conveyor belt-ish about the restaurant Jim Thompson. Being seated outside on the terrace as a succession of cars made their way up to and down from the many Dempsey Road area restaurants we couldn’t help wondering whether the dancers who from time to time posed on a dias on the terrace were supposed to be a distraction from the busy road.
Why was one waitress loudly hauling tables over the wooden floor at nine o’clock at night? If it needed to be done, couldn’t someone have helped her do it discretely? Why were the huge ugly electricity boxes and the cables and sockets quite as prominently displayed? Even a couple of strategically placed exuberantly-sized plants might have served as camouflage.
It also didn’t help that we were seated to the side of a ramp that everyone who entered and left the restaurant walked up and down. At times it felt like a catwalk (did that girl forget to put on her skirt?). If we were looking for a romantic evening, this wasn’t it.
Still, when it came to ‘the gluten conversation’ the waitress didn’t flinch; she showed she understood that gluten was in flour, offered to check with the kitchen and didn’t act as though it was at all unusual to ask for the nuts accompanying the salad and the rice to be served separately.
I was taken by the sound of the lemongrass infusion, described as comprising fresh lemongrass, ginger, fresh apple juice and lemonade. Perhaps it is just best to say it sounded better than it tasted. The distinctive taste of lemongrass really didn’t come through, neither did the ginger so I was left with the impression that it was an expensive mix of apple and lemonade which I definitely wouldn’t have chosen.
The Tom Yam Prawn Soup and the green mango salad were considerably better though the salad may be too spicy for some. It is the first time we have found a mango salad to be hotter than Tom Yam soup but the mango was more succulent than some.
The main course was a success. The seabass steamed in garlic, chilli and lime was well judged and finely enough spiced so that the taste of the fish wasn’t overpowered. The red duck curry was also good, with the duck tender and served with a good range of vegetables including Thai aubergine and tomatoes.
The pineapple rice was unremarkable as was the mango and sticky rice served for dessert. Black sticky rice is much the superior offering yet here they had chosen only to serve white glutenous rice with a minimal amount of coconut dressing to moisten it: this was another let down.
Towards the end of the evening it became clearer why there were so many large tables – this restaurant was on the tour bus trail. At nine o’clock a group of fifteen or so people left to join a mini bus waiting for them, presumably to make room for the next sitting that the waitress had so intrusively re-arranged the tables to accommodate.
Perhaps we would have fared better if we had been seated in the main restaurant rather than the terrace, but our experience was such that it isn’t an aim to return to test this thought.
Jim Thompson, 45 Minden Road, Singapore 248617 – Tel: 6475 6088