The Railway has long been known for its sausage kitchen, but recently, they took the brave decision to do something completely different. Rather than the sizzle of sausages, its kitchen is now smoking with the flavours of authentic Thai street food. Not to be confused with the usual anglicised Thai offering, this is Thai at its absolute best with a menu that changes daily.
I was invited along to try out some of the dishes that will feature on their daily menus and I wasn’t just pleasantly surprised by the change in direction, I was completely blown away.
So here’s how it works. The menu is split into small plates, large plates and sides and although some might like to read that as starters and mains (the non-sharers of the world), actually, the intention of this food is that it is best enjoyed shared. And even me, one of the non-sharing types, really enjoyed the experience of trying lots of new things and only got disappointed when something was so good that I wanted the whole lot to myself (hmm, nearly every dish then!). So, order a few small (about £6 each) and large plates (between £10-£15) along with some sides (priced £2-£6) - according to the size of your party - and then dig in. To ensure food is at its best, each dish comes out of the kitchen as soon as its ready, so don’t expect everything to arrive all at once. This is street food, much of it cooked on the barbecue, and we all know sausages and burgers never arrive at the same time, so don’t expect it with your Thai food either. Just relax and enjoy the informal style of dining it is intended to be.
I won’t talk about every dish as the menu changes daily, but I must say, all of the pork dishes were absolutely on point. We had smoked marinated pork shoulder which was ever so tender and the smokiness was nicely complemented by the fresh tamarind dipping sauce. The overall winner for me, by far, was the smoked pork belly rendang. Oh. My. God. This is Thai curry as you’ve never had it before! The pork was cooked to perfection with plenty of juicy meat and crackling, and the rendang sauce was just perfect for mopping up with loads of roti bread and coconut rice.
I like my spice and so the two other dishes that I got stuck into - without a care for the others at my table - were the chilli chicken wings, which were quite possibly the tastiest and most succulent chicken wings ever, smothered in a spicy but flavoursome sauce and also the smoked sirloin with lemongrass and chilli salad. I tell you, one bite of that salad and it almost took my breath away, but then I found myself going back for more because of the tantalising contrast between the powerful chilli and the freshness of the lemongrass.
I, for one, am not upset at all about this big change at The Railway and by the murmurings round the table that night, no one else is either. All it takes is one visit to try Smokey Phi Phi’s and your grief for the sausage and mash will be short-lived because this place has seriously just upped its game in a huge way! I am so excited for my next visit as its now a contender for one of my favourite places in Cheltenham.
Have you tried Thai street food before? What did you think in comparison to the usual Thai offering we get here in England?