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Rosa’s Thai is a brave foray in to a city already overwhelmed by a vast choice of great Thai restaurants. While the overall environment and feel of the restaurant was pleasant enough, the food sadly was disappointing. We certainly took our time to try out Rosa’s Thai new restaurant in Bath. With such a huge array of great Thai options, it was more out of curiosity than anything else that led off a quick visit to Rosa’s.
Located in Cheap Street where Burger King used to be, the restaurant feels like a somewhat half-hearted attempt at creating an authentic atmosphere reminiscent of Thai coffee shops. It is neither here nor there. Unfortunately the restaurant is deep inside and therefore rather dark, and despite the attempts to brighten the environment with lighting it does not seem to be enough.
All would have been forgiven of course, if only the food were good enough. Sadly, that too was disappointing.
The staff gave mixed messages, the first person told us there was no space for us and to be back in 15 minutes, while another let another party of three in straight afterwards. Other than that, the service was okay, although given the propensity for allergic content in thai food, we were never asked if there were any allergies (thankfully, we had none).
We were in between main meal times in the afternoon, and were looking more for something to munch on than a full meal. We landed at Rosa’s Thai enticed specifically by the glorious dessert of mango and sticky rice. We also ordered, fresh summer rolls, the som tam papaya salad and a bowl of tom ka noodles. While waiting for the food to arrive, we decided on a last minute final inclusion – the pumpkin crackers.
Food and Drink
Of all the items that we ordered, the pumpkin crackers might have been the one surprising positive. Much like prawn crackers in texture and mouth feel, the pumpkin crackers were wonderfully crisp and beautifully flavoured, pairing well with the sweet (but very diluted) chilli sauce.
It was difficult though to dip the crackers in to the pot of sauce without first breaking them in to longish strips. Perhaps in this case ‘ease of use’ over presentation may be beneficial, if the sauce were served in the typical shallow wide sauce dishes.
Still, pumpkin crackers – definitely have a good. Amazing!
Som Tam Papaya Salad
The som tam papaya salad is a very traditional, very typical Thai dish that provides an explosion of flavours and bite in every mouthful. Finely grated strips of green papaya is complemented with other vegetables, typically long green beans and tomatoes. Cut chillies and birds eye chillies add colour and heat. The sauce is a mouth-watering mix of fish sauce, coconut palm sugar, tamarind juice and lime juice.
While Rosa’s som tam was flavourful and had both a kick (from the chillies) and a punch from the very tasty sauce, it lacked a key ingredient that made the whole offering, very slightly off – dried shrimp.
Dried shrimp is usually a key ingredient in som tam, giving it an umami that is just a perfect hint of slight crunch, sea-salt flavour and depth. Although Rosa’s som tam was flavourful and tasty, the lack of dried shrimp did make a lot of difference. That slightly fishy, salty and earth taste of dried shrimp was missing, and while for most, it would have been fine, even sufficiently tasty, to our taste buds, there was just something missing.
The addition of whole cashew nuts in lieu of ground peanuts were a brilliant take though. The cashews were not too hard, slightly softened in the salad sauce and provided a tasty sweetness to complement the sharp tang of the salad itself.
Overall it was okay, but not amazing. Perhaps perfect for vegetarians or vegans looking for an alternative salad style.
Fresh Summer Rolls
Fresh summer rolls at Rosa’s are similar to Vietnamese rolls but without the juicy, succulent prawns that are usually wrapped inside. Filled to bursting with a range of greens, sliced and julienned wrapped in a delicate, light rice-based wrapper.
Rosa’s summer rolls are light and refreshing and when dipped in the accompanying plum-based sauce becomes an exquisite explosion of tastes and texture. It is all vegetables only which is somewhat surprising given how tasty it is.
If you are more familiar and used to the typical Vietnamese version, you might find something ‘missing’. The lack of prawns in the rolls made the texture slightly different. Prawns are mellow generally in their bite compared to the crunch and fibre of vegetables. The salty-sweetness of the shellfish also complements the wrapper and vegetables really well usually.
Rosa’s summer rolls are generally a pleasant, light starter and a great palate cleanser.
Tom kha noodles
Tom kha is one of our favourite versions of tom yum in which the sharp and spicy tom yum goong is mellowed with the addition of coconut milk.
Sadly though, the Tom Kha noodles at Rosa’s were very disappointing. At first glance, the half filled bowl of soup looked okay. However the soup, perhaps in this case, the sauce was mildly tasty although it was very thick and somewhat gloopy and reminiscent in texture to a thickened Campbell’s soup. The noodles were medium rice noodles which would have worked well, if only the soup was not so thick.
Although we ordered the mushroom version of this dish, it came with prawns and this were a generous serving. The prawns were fresh and tasty, served alongside a generous portion of bean sprouts, and some mushrooms.
Unfortunately, the ingredients were not enough to redeem the gelatinous bowl.
Mango sticky rice dessert
In Thailand during the mango season, mango with sticky rice, is almost a national heritage. It is found in packs along roadside stalls, in tiny cafes and market stalls, they are even found ready packed to take away at the airport. Mango sticky rice is a wonderful combination of a juicy, sweet fruit with thick, creamy sweetened glutinous rice.
Unfortunately at Rosa’s the glutinous rice was over done and too wet although the sesame seed sprinkles gave it a little bit of bite. Most disappointing though was the mango, which consisted of a sliced half of a typical supermarket mango.
Verdict: Would we go back?
Sadly, no. Rosa’s Thai is indeed up against some serious competition in the city of Bath where a plethora of great Thai restaurants have been operating for several decades now. Although it is very slightly cheaper than many of its competitors, the disappointing food, cannot recompense for the budget savings. Rosa’s has a good opportunity to stand out though, as their menu offers some interesting and different options that are not typically available elsewhere, they just need to get their chef’s up to speed.
If you’re ever in Bath a craving Thai, for street food style food at lunch time, our favourite tends to be Thai Balcony at Seven Dials near the Theatre Royal; alternatively Yum Yum Thai along Kingsmead Square does a brilliant value set lunch. And if you’re looking for a more traditional sit-down rice with dishes, our preference is towards Thai Basil along Walcot Street.
While those recommended above are local small business that are brilliant, there are also several high street chains – The Giggling Squid and Thaikhun which are also great.
Address: 4 Cheap St, Bath BA1 1NE
Contact: 01225 592430
- Saturday 12–10:30 pm
- Sunday 12–9:30 pm
- Monday 12–10 pm
- Tuesday 12–10 pm
- Wednesday 12–10 pm
- Thursday 12–10 pm
- Friday 12–10:30 pm