Thai Days: L’Opera

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Hugh Paxton’s Blog passed L’Opera a hundred times and was on each pass intrigued. Why have a restaurant that resembles a seedy public toilet in Earls Court? Is it open? Was it ever open? L’Opera lies on a crowded intersection – two narrow roads meet, everybody in a car on either road nudges intimately close and there is plenty of time to look at L’Opera. As months of congestion passed I became increasingly intrigued by its dilapidated facade and the strange, furtive movements glimpsed through its muted windows. They looked (vaguely) like busy cooks.

“Let’s give it a go?” I suggested to my beloved wife, Midori.

She looked at me with what the Japanese call “a whale’s eye” which is to say a doubtful and skeptical eye. But the traffic was particularly dire and we were hungry and we nudged into a funny car park almost blocked by a spirit house. An obliging man turned up as we stared in confusion at no apparent entrance and what looked like the sort of place masked gunmen dragged gagged people from the trunks of the car before whacking them. He showed us to a door that was less than inviting and in the cramped passage there were some hideous Egyptian things on the wall (only one actually, I mustn’t let first impressions get away with me!)

Inside! Dear Lord! It was gorgeous! Beautifully decorated, friendly staff, a ‘salad bar’ that involved all you could eat shrimp,squid,mussel cocktails, roast duck, salami, hams, eggs done in some exotic Tuscan way, masses of different pickles, omelettes, things with Parma ham and sauce, plenty of greens, roasted peppers, braised onions with something, finger snacks made of spinach and cheese, crunchy stuff, thinly sliced raw beef, and lots of olives and a heap of other things.

It was like entering Dr WHO’s TARDIS. From outside, this place looked rather small. Inside it was capacious! Room after room!

We sat and were offered menus and I thought “Well, hell! Why not!? They can only burn us once!”

The menu was lavish. Sea bass in basil, beef steak with roasties, pasta, liver, chicken paillard…”

The whole lot came with a choice of salad bar or today’s soup. And came to less than three Big Macs and fries. Perhaps five Big Macs and fries.

We stuffed ourselves and how wonderful it was! We didn’t order wine (that could be your downfall, a glass of wine can cost as much as your meal).

We left L’Opera feeling fat and strangely proud that we had made the effort.

As we got stuck in another traffic jam I looked at L’Opera’s exterior again. Frightful! Sordid!

Why?

We asked each other why in the traffic jam. No sensible answers emerged. A first class Italian restaurant dressed like a derelict?

I still haven’t reached a conclusion or thought of an answer but if you are stuck in traffic, don’t have too much cash sagging in your pockets but are hungry and want a respite go for that grungy looking building with L’Opera on the front. Inside you’ll be treated with respect by the Italian owner. If he offers you something – dessert for example – you simply cannot refuse! The desserts are delicious!

I’d stake my life on them!

Cheers!

Hugh in Bangkok

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