The Blue Elephant sits on the busy, traffic-laden stretch of Fulham Broadway. Admittedly not the most serene of locations, but this becomes irrelevant once you set foot inside the restaurant. To get to our table, we walked over two bridges, two ponds and past enough foliage to put Kew Gardens to shame. Inside this Thai eatery, the people at Blue Elephant endeavour to take your mind off the buzzing high street, and transport you to a place altogether more relaxing and rejuvenating.
Koi carp swim around the ponds that have been created alongside the dining area, and lush Thai greenery throughout the restaurant, gives you the impression that you might not be in Fulham, but perhaps somewhere miles away. We scoured the menu and decided to start of with a pot of jasmine tea and a glass of house red, both of which added to the relaxing feel of our mid-week lunch. The Blue Elephant’s a la carte menu offers up great choice, but we were tempted by the healthier and slightly cheaper lunch time menu. From January to March 2008, any course from the healthy menu is priced at £8.50, with desserts coming at £5.50. There is also the option of the 600-calorie, 4-course menu, priced at £18.00, and the Herbal Thai Food menu at £21.00. We opted for the standard healthy menu and chose the wild salmon tartare and the king scallops to start.
Before our first course arrived, an amuse bouche appeared before us in the shape of deep-fried vegetable and prawn balls, complete with a fiery sauce. The prawn balls won our favour and whet our appetite for what was to come. Both starters were seriously good – the salmon tartare was juicy and succulent, and the scallops plump and well covered in their spicy garlic and pepper sauce. As a man not wholly concerned with the notion of health, my father left his leafy garnish sitting on the side of his plate, deeming it far too salad-like to warrant consumption, but raved about the scallops which came with added fire in the form of a potent chilli dipping sauce. The tartare came marinated in ginger, garlic and chilli and left my taste buds burning deliciously and my immune system feeling decidedly bolstered.
Our main dishes arrived after a little break of tea and wine sipping, and continued what was turning out to be a pleasurably long lunch. Lamb chops served with krapraow sauce, wild rice and fried basil, were beautifully spiced and wonderfully tender, whilst the free-range chicken curry was infused with coconut, its light, creamy finish leaving my stomach quite satisfied. Our plate of stir-fried fresh bean sprouts, snow peas and broccoli was simply cooked in soy sauce, and tasted superb.
Another little sipping break ensued before our desserts arrived. Thai mango, Belgian chocolate mousse and jasmine scented cake were on the menu, but by this point we were comfortably full and chose refreshing bowls of ice-cream to round off the meal. Our red Thai tea, wild strawberry and Alphonso mango scoops were served up on banana leaves and coolly cleansed our palettes. The red Thai tea ice-cream was gorgeous with its milky and fruity flavour, the wild strawberry tasted beautifully delicate and the mango sorbet was full of tropical tang.
When we entered the restaurant, we both made a mental note of the toilet at the very front of The Blue Elephant – easy to remember, as it was just opposite the bar, almost next to the entrance. Walking back to it became another matter, and after walking over two bridges (one of them being an entirely different bridge to our previous route), a waiter kindly ushered me towards the ladies, and dutifully guided me back to my seat when I got lost again on the way back. The toilet, by the way is worth going to. Whether you’ve drunk too much tea, or find the running water from the ponds has an effect on you, invariably you’re likely to visit the lavatory. And it’s a worthwhile trip, as stepping into the ladies could be likened to walking into a Thai spa. The walls were beautifully tiled, the toilets were enclosed with wooden shutters and the relaxing scent of jasmine wound its way around the room, spiralling out from the scented candles. Aaahh, Fullhan Broadway - you are a distant memory. Granted the busy broadway may not be reason enough to entice you back out of the toilets, but the food at The Blue Elephant definitely is.
The healthy lunchtime deal at The Blue Elephant will set you back by around £60 for two, including wine and coffee.
Blue Elephant: 3-6 Fulham Broadway, London, SW6 1AA.
Tel: 020 7385 6595
Reviewer: Helenka Bednar