Patara, South Kensington
Some people are sticklers for relentlessly pursuing Thai restaurants that are out-of-the-way, rough around the edges and reassuringly ‘authentic’. Whilst there are no doubt a host of these joints in the nether regions of London, for a date night there are only really two places. If you want spruced up canteen-style dining go to Rosa’s. If you want a posh, white-tabled, orchid-strewn elegant dining experience head to the wonderful Patara.
With branches in fancy locales like Knightsbridge and Mayfair, this South Kensington restaurant is a total gem. Close enough to a string of swanky bars (Eclipse, Collection and the fun PJs), the formality of white top dining is easily offset by drinks before or after. Staff are dressed in Thai-style uniforms, are elegant and don’t fuss around you too much. The restaurant is gratifyingly small, giving it an intimate feel and also an air of exclusivity. Plus it rarely suffers from the embarrassment of empty tables.
Stepping up to its ambitious (but worthy) price bracket, there is an element of swagger to the otherwise traditional menu. On the starter menu is the inclusion of a prawn bisque, and playful soft tacos, as well as the usual satay and spring roll offerings. The curries all come with an extra embellishment, such as veal osso busso in the massaman curry, instead of the customary lamb. The black cod is a bold two fingers up to Japanese joints who think that only they can swell bills by adding this to the menu. The food is rich and filling, so ideally you should order two starters and perhaps one main, a side and a vegetable to share. If you can make it to dessert, their baked banana is a little slice of heaven, something I wish you could walk in and order on its own. Wine wise, go for the Thai white wine; it is a crisp and light match for the meal.
One thing that is irksome at a Thai restaurant is if a date orders a satay to start and a green chicken curry to follow. If they’re this adventurous in the restaurant, imagine the fireworks elsewhere. Jokes aside, this is not the place to play it safe. Impress your date with a playful order and get some fish in there for sophistication points. Share a bottle of wine and take the meal slow, you will not be rushed. Try and hold hands across the table, as other couples seem to be doing, and keep the whole thing corny and romantic. After the meal, step out on the corner, where taxis pass by regularly, hail your date a cab and go for a light kiss before
you part. Whilst it’s tempting to suggest one of the many nice cocktail bars for after, your wallet may have taken enough of a beating, plus you’re really very full.
Pretty faultless. It’s not cheap but it’s a case of getting bang for your buck with every creative mouthful. The crowd is a little more 35 plus but it’s a nice sophisticated set to be mixing with.
0.5. Only a slim chance you’ll end up in bed after this but the charm and foodie factor are through the roof.
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