Lin's Thai Cafe, Southsea | Review
On Google, the cafe is described as offering an ‘extensive menu of freshly cooked Thai staples in a no-frills, cafe-style restaurant,’ and we would agree with this is a pretty accurate, albeit short and simple, representation.
The family-run and clearly well-loved restaurant has been in Southsea for at least 10 years and even after a few mentions to locals in the bar down the road - The Honest Politician - I’m inundated with nods of approval and words of consensus from loyal customers who have been going ‘for years’.
In an online review, it is suggested that pre-booking is best as the place is normally teeming with visitors and so even on this miserable mid-week evening as a yellow weather warning brings continual downpours to Portsmouth, I call and book a table for two.
On the phone, I’m asked if I have ever been to the cafe before and upon my answer, I’m reminded that it is a cash-only venue, and also that I am free to bring my own alcohol if I so please - music to my ears.
After grabbing a few flavoured ciders from the Tesco Express across the road, my companion and I head over to the restaurant, whose dangling fairy lights which cascade across the window display look cosy and inviting to two wet diners.
We’re offered any table of our choosing and as my first choice, a window seat, are both taken. We opt for one in the middle - but really they all seem snug.
The menu was brimming with options, but being the painfully boring creature of habit I am, I opt for ‘Pad Thai with Tiger Prawns’ (£9.50) and my companion, ‘Pad Se Eew with Chicken’ (£7.50).
Between us, we also order two starters: Prawn Spring Rolls (£5.95) - I’m a sucker for a prawn - and Crispy Tofu (£5.25), which my companion has never tried and we decide today is the day.
The funky decor, namely a blue police box at the back of the cafe, makes for a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
The food comes swiftly, starters first and the mains follow not long after. Having eaten at a fair few Pad Thai’s in my time, if I’m completely honest, I have had better.
However, this is still very tasty and considering the freshness of the ingredients it is surprisingly good value - my companion feels the same.
The spring rolls are delicious, crispy and filled with prawn and vegetable goodness and the tofu and was flavourful, cooked well, with a crispy outer shell and the sweet chili sauce was a moreish addition.
Presentation is also impeccable, the plates are such works of art with the delicate carving of a radish and the dusting of carrot sticks, I almost don’t want to eat it and service was ultra-friendly and helpful.