Dec 17 2012



Patara is a Thai restaurant that has 4 branches in London (Soho, Oxford Circus, Kensington and South Ken) and also branches in Singapore, Geneva and Bangkok and they provide “upscale dining”, which means they want to be known as a better restaurant than a Thai chain (they say they serve “fine Thai cuisine”, and Hardens does agree as the last guide ranked it as the 3rd best Thai restaurant in London. Patara means a “gracious lady” in Thai and apparently derives its inspiration from Khun Patara Sila-On who has been running Patara for the last 30 years. I went to the Soho branch and it was very nice, although not as nice as the ones in Kensington and South Ken that I have visited. I first went to Patara about 5 years ago to the South Ken branch and I found it beautiful. I thought it was nicely decorated, smart inside and it did feel like you were in an upscale restaurant. Ever since then I have also visited the branch in Kensington and that I also found subtle yet classy. The Soho one seemed less like that, and I am not sure if that is because the room is larger so it is noisier, or because Patara has changed and become more mainstream since I last visited it, but the décor is still nice, but less memorable (the South Ken and Kensington restaurants have small dining areas and the rooms are more separated so it feels less noisy and more intimate). I liked most of the food in Patara, but a very unwelcome development was the fact that all the food the waitress recommended I did not like, and I only liked the food I had chosen without her help. Maybe it shows I have western tastes and she was trying to get me to try something typical, I don’t know, or maybe she was just trying to get me to try strange things, or maybe I have become more picky with time. To start we had some “DIY tacos” of chicken and prawn with cucumber tomato salad called “kamon bueng”, which the waitress recommended, and which I did not find that tasty at all. The chicken was strange, sort of minced, it just had a strange taste to it and it felt a bit strange making a taco in a Thai restaurant and it was hard to use the hard corn taco shells. What I chose – “miang guaytiew” – or rice paper rolls with prawns, crabmeat and five spiced duck with lime and chilli sauce, I really enjoyed. I love these rice paper rolls and these ones did not let me down and were delicious with a nice sauce. The tuna tartare (I chose this) was amazing and had nice thin slices of raw tuna in spicy lemongrass and mint vinaigrette with chilli and garnish on the top. Wonderful tuna dish and I like this way of preparing tuna in a Thai way probably better than tuna sashimi or tuna tiradito (Peruvian way). The last starter we had was the Spicy Thai beef salad served on grilled Portobello. I found it a bit strange how they served it on a Portobello mushroom, but I loved the beef, the spices and the salad in general, it was vibrant, delicious and full of flavour. We also had 4 main courses to share among us, I chose to have “plaah goong”, grilled tiger prawns in spicy lemongrass and lime dressing, as my mum loves tiger praws, and they were nice and my mum also seemed to think they were great as she had a lot. I also decided to have some typical chicken green curry, called “kiew wan gai ban”, and it did not let me down, the chicken was super tender, the sauce was nice with a slight spicy and sweet hint. The 2 dishes that the waitress recommended were not great in my view. I wanted to have some fish, as one of my dinner buddies Vaiva wanted some fish, and the waitress recommended “pla tod sauce takrai”, as she said that was a whole fish and was the one to have. I was silly and did not read properly the menu and she also did not explain that this was fish in batter, which I am not keen on, and I wanted something healthy and just plain fish with spices. There was also too much batter on the fish for my liking, and it did feel a bit like a Thai version of “fish and chips” fish. It was beautifully presented though, with the head and the tail fried in batter as well and added to the plate. The other dish that the waitress recommended and I also did not find that amazing was “nua tom kati” which was slow braised beef in aromatic coconut reduction with fresh lime, lemongrass and chilli. The beef was tender and delicious, but it was just a huge chunk of soft beef in sauce, which I also did not think was amazing. To go with all this we had some plain rice and coconut rice, which was very coconutty and powerful, and I did like although as I make my own coconut rice at home, I could tell they had used a lot of coconut milk to make this, which is not the healthiest thing, but delicious. We also had some broccoli and mushrooms. For the desert, I and the men on our table did not chose anything, but my mum went for a fruit platter and Vaiva had a fried banana with cream. I did not try the banana but it looked like a typical Thai fried banana. Most of the fruit in my mum’s desert were nice, but the melon was so hard I could not cut it with a knife and I tried very hard, and it was a bit strange how they would serve fruit that is so obviously not ripe. I can see why Patara is great, as the atmosphere is amazing, you walk in and you feel like in a nice calm oasis with typical Thai waitresses in a nice manner walking around with dishes, but I think I could have had a better meal in Patara had I ordered some other things. Still it is very good quality thai food and also not too expensive by London standards, although there were a few little things that let me down just a bit.

Location: Soho
Price for 5 people, including a few beers and service charge:208.29
Date: 17/12/12

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Patara Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3.5