Speedboat Bar

30 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DL, United Kingdom

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This Soho restaurant opened in late 2022 in what used to be Xu. It is part of the burgeoning JKS restaurant group, which includes Sabor, Gymkhana, Hoppers, Lyles, Bao, Brigadiers, Kitchen Table and Trishna, which was the first of the group to open (in 2008).  This is the brainchild of Luke Farrell, who prior to this opened Plaza Khao Ghaeng and Bebek! Bebek! in Centrepoint, having previously worked for fifteen years in Thailand. Head chef at Speedboat is Krismas Char Chorenpanich. Today though, the kitchen was headed up by sous chef Michele Carollo. The restaurant name presumably reflects a nickname for Chinese/Thai-style hot pot.

There was an a la carte menu and also a £39 set menu, which we opted for. Singha beer was £4, while there were just seven wines on offer. These ranged in price from £36 to £55 with a median price of £50 and an average markup to retail price of 3.5 times, which is going some. Examples included Riesling Weingut Leiner Pfalz at £52 compared to its shop price of £13 and Rosata Tenuta di Carleone 2021 at £55 for a wine that costs £20 in a shop. The dining room has tightly packed small tables and lots of hard surfaces, so even on this fairly quiet lunchtime it was hard to hear the conversation of the person I was dining with. At a packed evening service, it must be deafening. 

The meal started well enough, with pickled mustard greens and Chinese sausage. There was plenty of chilli kick to this dish, and the mustard greens went well with the slices of sausage (14/20). It was harder to like a sweetcorn fritter, which was almost inevitably just dry and was as inherently unexciting as deep-fried sweetcorn is likely to be, with just a little sweet chilli dip on the side (11/20).

Beef tendon and tongue did come with a reasonably good curry sauce, though the texture of the tongue was not as tender as it might have been (12/20). This was still better than a curry of crispy pork with black pepper, the pork not particularly crisp and having limited flavour, though the pepper sauce was decent (11/20).

Minced beef with Thai basil in place of the advertised holy basil had gristly texture, and the distraction of a fried egg on top could not divert from the rather grim minced beef (11/20).  Morning glory was undercooked, heading towards raw, and the soy bean sauce had little in the way of spices to liven it up (11/20). Glass noodles with chicken and suki (sukiyaki) sauce had dried out chicken, noodles of dubious texture and some morning glory with a chilli sauce (11/20). In general, the savoury dishes lacked the complexity of spices that really good Thai food should possess. Here there was mostly just a one-dimensional kick of chilli.

Pineapple pie with taro ice cream was harmless enough, but taro is an odd choice for an ice cream, tasting vaguely like potato. The pastry (12/20) will not be giving any sleepless nights to the pastry section at The Ritz or Pic

Service was friendly, and the bill came to £62 per person, with just tap water and a single glass of wine between two, with no tea or coffee. This is hardly cheap, and compares poorly to places like Jin Da Thai, where a meal with copious beer might be £40 and where the cooking is clearly superior to here. Speedboat Bar has had some very positive press reviews so maybe they were just having a bad day, but there were too many problems in this meal. The small tables and deafening noise levels do not add to its charm.


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