Poppy’s opened in January 2015, serving English breakfast by day and Thai food at night. Poppy is the nickname of the owner, who has decorated the tiny dining room in a distinctive style. There is bric a brac crammed into every space: stuffed birds here, a clock there, the odd lamp. It looks like some Victorian grandmother’s sitting room, but is rather charming in its way. Did I say it was tiny? You can get 20 people in here in a similar way that you can get 20 clowns into a car: you can manage it but it is hard to understand how it is done. The wood floor and marble tables reflect any noise in the room, and the two large tables that we witnessed this evening made things pretty deafening for the remaining diners; it did not need the additional jazz playing in the background.
The menu is fairly conventional, with all the popular Thai high street dishes here, as well as a couple of Malaysian options for good measure. How they manage to cater for such an extensive menu from such a miniscule kitchen I have no idea. There is a brisk takeaway business here, presumably because customers have wandered by, seen the size of the dining room, and decided this is the easiest option. There is no license, but they let you bring alcohol for a nominal £1 charge, and there is a shop a few doors down with beer in its fridge.
Som tam was reasonable, though for me it was a bit heavy on the beansprouts relative to the green papaya. However the dressing had a decent kick of chilli and the ground peanut gave a pleasant texture to the salad (12/20). Fishcakes were rather more lacklustre, decent enough with their sweet chilli sauce, but a touch greasy (11/20).
Fried tilapia with tamarind sauce and sweet chilli was quite nice, the fish ordinary but the tamarind sauce bringing its distinctive sweetness to the dish and working well with the chilli (12/20). Red curry prawn was the best dish, the shellfish tender and the sauce having a base of coconut milk but having quite vibrant spices (13/20). Stir-fried bak choi was carefully cooked (13/20), and the Malay style fried rice with egg and chilli oil was different and worked quite well (12/20).
Service was very friendly, the waitress displaying considerable acrobatic skills as she managed to squeeze in between the tightly packed tables. The bill, for more food than we could finish, came to just £20 a head before tip., which these days in London is borderline miraculous for a competent dinner. Poppy’s is slightly eccentric but the cooking shows some ability, and it is a bargain to boot.