Dining out review: The Empire Theatre Champagne bar in Burnley offers Thai food and a cracking outdoor terrace

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“What a beautiful little bar this is.”

That was how one customer described it while I was in there at the weekend. Yet there seems to be quite a lot of people in Burnley who are still not aware of the Empire Theatre Champagne bar.

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Tucked away down St James Street, a little further down from Marks and Spencer on the opposite side of the road, this cracking little bar has a lovely rear outdoor terrace overlooking the River Calder and also serves some of the best Thai food I have ever tasted. It’s hard to believe this was once the entrance to the former Empire Theatre.

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Review: The Empire Theatre Champagne bar in Burnley is a Thai delightReview: The Empire Theatre Champagne bar in Burnley is a Thai delight
Review: The Empire Theatre Champagne bar in Burnley is a Thai delight

Unused for decades the former entrance area was transformed around five years ago, from a derelict space into a modern and stylish bar that would not look out of place in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Already known for its fabulous cocktails and Singha draught Thai beer, the extensive menu offers a range of Thai dishes, you really are spoilt for choice.

My partner Ian and myself opted for a shared starter platter which included a thai fish cake, prawn toast, pork spare ribs and vegetable spring rolls. A tasty combination of flavours, sweet and spicy, it really sets you up for the main course.

Divided into sections with a choice of noodle or rice dishes I choose Pad Thai noodles with chicken. It’s one of my favourite meals and I have to say the Empire Theatre bar’s offering is one of the very best I have ever had. The combination of the home-made Pad Thai sauce stir fried with rice noodles, egg, spring onions, vegetables and bean sprouts, is a delight for the tastebuds, all freshly cooked and piping hot, straight from the pan. And the portion was that generous I was able to take some home in a ‘doggy bag.’

Ian went for the stir fried chicken with cashew nuts cooked in oil with chilli paste, onions and peppers and served with rice. He said it was spicy and tasty and deliciously filling. A range of pizzas are also available and the bar also has a ‘specials’ menu throughout the week. There is also a range of salads on the menu which I intend to try on my next visit. The bar also serves a range of soups, including hot and sour spicy soup, sweet and sour coconut soup and pork Won Ton soup.

The bar has a very relaxed atmosphere and you would feel at home dressed down in jeans or dressed up the “nines’. It’s a real little hidden gem and you feel you have been somewhere special.

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