There once was an ugly duckling

And it had a restaurant named after it in Cambridge. Upstairs there’s a Thai restaurant under the same ownership. The Ugly Duckling is thought a bit pricey by Cambridge students, who probably compare it with Chinese takeaways. I’ve always found the food good, with some agreeable wines on the list. My problem is the layout of tables in quite a small room. Unless you are lucky, you might get a table for two next to the counter, where meals arrive from the kitchen, from where drinks are served, and where people sometimes wait to collect takeaway meals. Or you might get one near the door. Either way there is more traffic than some people would want.

This time I shared meat spring rolls and prawn crackers to start with. I suppose we got through half the crackers, but the spring rolls were all eaten. Then there were scallops with ginger and vegetables, done just right. They were small, but there were lots of them. The chicken with peanuts in chilli sauce was interesting. Somehow the peanuts were not as dense as usual. Had they been steeped in something, I wondered? Anyway, they were very tasty and the dish was very good. We shared rice for one and ate half of it.

With this (or perhaps I should say “alongside this”) went a rather nice red wine. It said Barossa Valley shiraz on the list, but what came was a Beelgara Estate black shiraz, 15-04. The 04 must have been the year, and the 15 was the percentage of alcohol. Its flavours spoke of black cherry and plum, with maybe a hint of toffee. It was a very substantial, full-bodied wine.

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