This branch of Patara is in a parade of shops on Beauchamp Place, not far from Harrods. It has a narrow dining room with quite smart fittings. It is probably easiest to drink beer with Thai food given the heavy use of chilli flavour, but there is a decent wine list (with tasting notes) if you prefer. One wine that works well with spices is the Dopff Gewürztraminer 2008, listed at £35 for a wine that will cost you around £16 retail, Saint Clair Merlot 2007 was £24 for a wine that will set you back about £9 to buy, while Cantenac Brown 2001 from Margaux was £72 compared to a shop price of around £40. There was even Monsoon Valley wine from Thailand at £18 for a wine that costs around £6 to buy. As can be seen, mark-ups are quite reasonable, especially by the standards of Knightsbridge.
Raw tuna salad with lime and mint dressing was enjoyable, perhaps a touch over acidic, while mint always tends to be a dominant flavour (13/20). A prawn salad, with lotus roots and some noodles, was good, the prawns tender (13/20). Sea bass, marinated then cooked in banana leaf was excellent as it was before (easily 14/20). Perhaps the best dish of all was a simple one of stir-fried sugar snap peas: these were beautifully cooked with spices, and had dazzling flavour (16/20 is probably too mean a score for this dish; a Michelin starred restaurant would have been happy to serve it). Service was rather sloppy this evening compared to prior visits; the staff are always friendly, but they seemed rather distracted at times, and there were some unnecessary delays. The bill came to £55 a head with beer. This (along with other Patara branches, especially the Greek Street one) is consistently the best Thai food in London.
At a recent meal here a raw tuna salad with lime and mint vinaigrette was a touch acidic but worked well (13/20), and a prawn salad had carefully cooked, tender prawns (14/20). Sea bass that had been marinated in spices and then cooked in a banana leaf was excellent as before (15/20), while the star dish was the simplest: stir fried sugar snap peas, that were cooked with a blend of Thai spices and were strikingly good (16/20), with excellent flavour. Service on this occasion was polite though the staff seemed somewhat distracted at times. Still, the food was once again excellent.
At a December 2011 meal we enjoyed prettily presented som tam salad (13/20), and fishcakes that also came with fried prawns, the latter having very good flavour (13/20). The sea bass on a banana leaf was again superb, the fish having absorbed the spices of the marinade and having gorgeous taste (15/20). Pad Thai not only had excellent noodles but several large yet precisely cooked prawns (14/20). A red prawn curry was also very capable, with a complex blend of spices and more carefully cooked prawns (14/20). The quality of presentation at Patara is high, with dishes artfully presented, and the bill came to £51 a head including drinks.
Here are notes from a meal in January 2011.
The classic tom yum goong soup (£7.10) was well made here, the prawns tender and the stock rich and complex, tasting of kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass (13/20). Tonight I tried a Thai version of tuna tartare (£8.45), with lemongrass and mint dressing. This was very good, with the lemongrass dressing refreshing, the mint flavour kept within control, and nice presentation with carved leaves (easily 14/20).
The best main course was sea bass fillet (£15.85) that had been char-grilled with a herb curry and served in a banana leaf. The fish was carefully cooked and the mild curry sauce worked well (14/20 to 15/20). Prawns in kaffir lime- scented coconut curry and betelnut leaves (£14.10) was pleasant, the prawns tender and the fairly mild curry having a coherent blend of spices (13/20). Asparagus (£8.45) was stir-fried with an oyster and garlic sauce, the asparagus lightly cooked and having good texture (13/20).
What follows are notes from a meal in June 2010.
Tom yum goong soup (£6.95) was very good indeed – this benchmark dish was complex and vibrantly spiced (13/20). Also good were spring rolls of crab and prawn (£7.25), the batter avoiding the greasiness that so often afflicts this dish (13/20). Sea bass with herb curry (£15.50) was served on a banana leaf; the fish was properly cooked and the mild spices of the curry worked well with the bass, the spice mix being well-balanced and a hint of lemon gave a fresh taste to the dish (15/20). Mango salad with soft shell crab (£8.50) was pleasant though not in the same league, the soft-shell crab again having good batter, the strips of mango fine but needing a little more of the spicy sauce (13/20).
Prawn curry with kaffir lime leaf and a scented coconut curry (£13.75) also had a well-constructed spice mix and reasonably tender prawns (13/20). The star dish for me was a simple one of stir-fried sugar snap peas with a few prawns and mushrooms (£7.25): the peas were really excellent, cooked al dente, tasting very fresh and picking up the flavour of the cooking juices (easily 15/20). Pad Thai noodles had cooked texture but seemed curiously bland (12/20).
This was the first time I had tried this branch of Patara, which has four outlets in London. The meal tonight had the edge over the Greek Street branch of Patara, which I had previously found to be the best of this mini-chain. The bill came to £52 each, but we ordered quite a lot of food (portions are generous except for the uncharacteristically mean size of the bowls of rice), so it would be easy to eat for less. Service from our Thai waitresses was charming.