Busaba Eathai Bird Street: How to eat well on Oxford Street (December 2013)

Shoppers searching for culinary respite on Oxford Street often struggle for good options. It was therefore a pleasure to encounter Busaba Eathai on Bird Street, just a stone’s throw from Selfridges. I was vaguely aware of the restaurant, and although part of a small chain, the service and atmosphere on the occasion we visited was friendly and welcoming, perhaps more akin to that of a local establishment. Beyond the warm greeting, the set-up is definitely enticing: dark wood, amber lighting and an appropriately cool musical soundtrack. The place was surprisingly quiet when we visited and so the communal tables were not an issue as there was no need to share. For those who quibble about this (and diners should be aware that the tables here are square rather than the long establishment-like benches found at Wagamama), there is also the option to sit at a window-side counter, ideal for people watching/ shopper spotting. In terms of the food, the emphasis is Asian/ Thai and the approach is in keeping with many restaurants these days, a series of small dishes that can be shared and are brought to the table when ready. There is hence no division between starters and mains, but the menu is instead logically and helpfully split into categories such as salads, stir fries and grills. Spicy options and vegetarian ones are also clearly denoted. Dishes are mostly priced in the £7-10 range with the priciest at £12-13. Be aware, however, in a group the bill can quickly escalate if several are ordered and we did not end up finishing everything. This was, however, more a commentary on our over-ordering than the quality. In this latter respect, there were no ‘bad’ dishes from the range we selected. Busaba’s famous spicy calamari were a hit, but we also enjoyed the soft shell prawn, fried chicken (which had a lovely hint of lemongrass) and cod fillet among others. All in, a success. Local workers should also take note of the fact that a take-away service is available.