Louise Allonby dines out at Thai at Bea’s, Ulverston

Some like it hot – and I’m one of them. I’ve always liked spicy food and, while I baulk at the fieriest of chillis, I’m no wuss when it comes to curries.

And I have a particular penchant for Thai food, which is lucky as I’m still ploughing my way through a shipping order of Thai green curry paste that I ordered online and got the quantities a little wrong (I had wanted enough for 40 portions – ended up with enough paste to make 800. It’s a long story).

There’s a Thai place in Ulverston I’ve been meaning to try for a while – and this week, I finally got round to it. Off the beaten track, Thai at Bea’s is found in one of the little alleyways of Ulverston (or ginnels to give them their proper name) and it's certainly a one-off.

By day a tearoom providing scones, cakes and traditional stuff like minced beef pie, by evening it’s a Thai restaurant, redolent with the pungent (nay, eye-watering) aroma of stir-frying spices.

My friend Sarah and I visited on Wednesday evening, arriving at an empty venue, but leaving a full one.

First thing to say is this: it’s not the most atmospheric of evening dining establishments. In fact, it almost defies description, as you might expect of a place that is part tearoom, part Thai restaurant. What it lacks in atmosphere (overhead lighting, no music and walls which look like they’ve been plastered by a deranged cake-icer in the grip of a psychotic episode), it makes up for in the quality of the food.

The menu is reasonably plentiful – and pleasingly simple: all starters £4.95, soups £5.25, salads £5.50 and mains £9.50 – and all served with steamed rice, which is refreshing to see, given how many Oriental restaurants insist on charging extra for this basic and necessary accompaniment to a curry.

For starters Sarah chose fishcakes, two large and fresh-that-moment affairs which were subtly spiced but not too much for Sarah, who is much more of a softie about such matters than me.

I had chosen a Tom Yan Koong soup, with tiger prawns, lemongrass, tomatoes and mushrooms. The menu declared it to be “very spicy”, which I took to be a notch down from “extremely spicy” as one of the other soups was described. It certainly was hot – even for an asbestos-mouth such as me. It was delicious, though: fresh, large prawns and crispy veg – but, boy, it blew my head off. My sinuses have rarely been in such fine fettle as a result of downing this fiery broth.

For mains, I chose a red Thai beef curry, while Sarah went for the classic Pad Thai noodle dish – with chicken. Both were excellent and by the time we were eating them, the premises were nearly full, both with eat-in diners and a constant stream of customers collecting takeaways. I would have preferred some vegetables in my curry, which was just meat and sauce. As someone who likes a bit of crunch in their Eastern food, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of texture – but that didn’t detract from the overall excellence of the dish.

The owner – presumably the eponymous Bea – was doing sterling work in the kitchen, churning out this fresh, delicious food with great aplomb.

There’s no escaping the fact that the surroundings are unusual for a place serving such food. I know fusion cooking is all the rage – but fusion setting? I doubt there are many eating establishments which fuse tea and scones with Pad Prig Sod (a medium spicy stir fry), but this place does.

It’s all a bit weird (not least those Artex-on-steroids grey plaster walls) - but the food’s rather wonderful.

Food 4.5

Service 4

Atmosphere 2.5

Value 4.5


Fresh, authentic Thai food

Takeaways available

Great value


The atmosphere is rather odd

It’s a little bit too hidden for a hidden gem