Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
Ambiance
7/10
Food
7/10
Total
0%
November 25, 2023

Rosa's Thai, Edinburgh, restaurant review - the chain opens a branch on Frederick Street

The chain offers classic Thai dishes, including noodles, soups and curry

I’ve already broken my promise.

I was on Princes Street just last week, when I swore to myself that I wouldn’t go back into the centre of town until Christmas and New Year were over. I’m not good with crowds. I don’t want to be kettled in St James Quarter and elbowed in Marks & Spencer’s aisles.

But here I am, again, attempting to swim upstream against a tide of shoppers and big wheel riders.

As always, it’s a restaurant that’s lured me here.

This time, I blame Rosa’s Thai, which is a chain that started out as a stall in London’s Brick Lane Sunday market, before spreading across the UK throughout the Noughties, with two new additions in Scotland - Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The capital’s branch is in the former premises of Cafe Rouge. I like what they’ve done with the space. It’s cheerful and bright, with a few pot plants and jolly staff, who don’t yet appear to have been broken by the demands of the season. 

We were visiting for a very late lunch - 1.45pm, when I barely make it to noon these days - so I felt that I had a medical need for immediate cocktail administration. There are lots of novelty ones on their list, including takes on bubble tea and a chilli lagerita, which they describe as a ‘Thai-Mex mash up’.

However, the pineapple kaffir lime sour (£8.95) sounded tempting, and it was, if a bit subtler than I wanted. If something says sour, I want sherbet lemon mouth-puckering levels, but this mixture of Duppy Share Rum, coconut infusion, kaffir lime and star anise, was only slightly bitter, just like me.

While I sipped this, he went for the Fairy Liquid green mixture that was the melon basil smash (£8.95), with gin, citrus, melon liqueur and Thai basil.

From the food menu, we were in the mood for supersizing, so ordered the Classic Platter (£18).

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Its quintet of starters include a Thai calamari sprinkled with a crimson dust that was extremely addictive and vaguely reminded us of spicy Wotsits. We asked the waitress what this magic ingredient was - tom yum powder, apparently. We Googled and ordered a tub from a random website. I’m going to sprinkle it on everything, even my breakfast cereal.

The platter also featured a pair of honey-marinated pork skewers, which featured charred meat, as well as a duo of chicken satay, crunchy vegetable spring-rolls and a load of spicy prawn crackers. All these starters were decent, though relatively unexciting on their own. The magic was really in the excellent dips - a peanut satay one, sticky tamarind and a sweet chilli.

My other half was in the mood for the red duck pineapple curry next, but they were out of that meat, so, under pressure, he went for the red curry with chicken (£13.50) and a coconut rice (£4) on the side.

This classic dish wasn’t bad - a bit watery maybe, and there wasn’t a lot of chicken, or much of anything else solid, in the bowl. He had to fish around for stuff, using his fork as a trident. Still, the soupy sauce was buzzing with lemongrass and ginger, so it wasn’t all bad.

I had opted for one of their signature pad Thais (£13.75) with king prawns. It was a huge squelchy pile, with rice noodles, about five roly-poly prawns, bean sprouts and a sweet tamarind sauce, plus ground peanuts on the side. I was scunnered halfway through. I’m not sure if that was to do with the volume, or the general eggy richness. I wanted to lift that with more of the lime juice that was provided by a tiny wedge on the side. I should’ve asked for another. Anyway, at least dinner was sorted. They gave me a takeaway box, and I tucked the remainder in there. 

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I finished my late lunch off with a sugary sweet Thai iced coffee (£3.50) and we shared a pudding of Thai churros (£5), which were a take on this Portuguese deep-fried doughnut, except with the melted chocolate dip swapped for condensed milk.

This was a lunch that made jostling my way into town worth the hassle.

However, this will be my last time until next year. I promise.

43 Frederick Street, Edinburgh, UK
43 Frederick Street, Edinburgh, UK, EH2 1EP
0131 609 0003
Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
Ambiance
7/10
Drinks
7/10
Food
7/10
Service
8/10
Value
7/10
Total
0%
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