RESTAURANT REVIEW: Patoo, Ecclesall Road, Sheffield

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A couple of very sensible people told me it was called Pat.

Pat?

I’d heard of a Boy named Sue but a restaurant called Pat?

“Patoo,” says the lovely waitress in the Thai restaurant when I ask her.

The problem arises because on the sign the last two letters are written run together, like a flourish, or, if you are mathematically minded, the symbol for infinity.

And what does Patoo mean?

“Beautiful ladies,” she smiles back beautifully.

Well that’s true and we got plenty of warm, sunny smiles from Be and her friend but otherwise it was a bit of chilly night for us, even though we had a table next to a radiator.

Patoo’s boiler was causing a bit of trouble and kept on going out of action. Be apologised sweetly.

You might wonder why Sheffield needs another Thai restaurant. For years we had just one, the now deceased Bahn Nah in Broomhill, now they’re everywhere.

There are two others on Ecclesall Road alone, All-Siam just a few yards away and the Bahn Thai at the bottom.

“There are many Thai restaurants in Sheffield and there is quite tough competition but we are convinced we can do better,” says Be, who came from the group’s Harrogate branch and diplomatically likes what she sees of Sheffield.

There are also sister restaurants in Chesterfield, Lichfield and Loughborough.

The chain was started by May (Thais seem be content with one name although if you persist Be tells you her family name is Nuttira, which means philosopher) who arrived in the UK in 1984 as a student.

She worked first at the famous Blue Elephant in London and then at the equally famous Wheelers seafood restaurant, a completely different kettle of fish, before striking out on her own.

She’s been joined by her sister Jariya who gained her MSc in hospitality management at Hallam University so Sheffield is not entirely new to them.

Patoo is pleasantly decorated in Thai style and has 80 covers and as many dishes on the menu.

You can order set meals but we decided to eat a la carte. Starters here aren’t cheap but then Thai restaurants are a tad more expensive than their Chinese equivalents.

Spare ribs (£5.95), are delicate affairs, four chopped sections of tender meat in a beguiling brown vinegary sauce, while Tord Mun Pla, Thai fishcakes, for the same price, had the familiar springy feel with plenty of green coriander for freshness.

Our most expensive main course at £11, crispy duck in red curry sauce (Chu Chee Ped Yang) came on a dish in the shape of a fish.

There was lots of duck, very tasty although sadly by the time we got it the skin was no longer crisp.

By this time our tastebuds were fairly zinging with chilli in the nicest way possible, which is the thing I really like about Thai food. This dish, like the prawn green curry (£9.50) were highlighted on the menu as extra hot but they were nowhere as ballistic as Thai food can be.

There were five or six big king prawns in a rich coconut milk sauce and more coriander.

You can’t eat Thai without eating noodles and we opted for Pad Woon Sen Khai (£6.95), a tangle of vermicelli with vegetables.

It looked, my wife observed, “like Ena Sharples’ hairnet.”

What the Coronation Street matriarch would have made of the onions, black mushrooms and pickled garlic (whole heads sliced and fried) is anyone’s guess but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

We ate all this with two bowls of fine jasmine rice (£2.20) each.

We’d have had a sweet but these seemed to be all various combinations of banana, pineapple and ice cream.

The only other option, a dessert flavoured with pandanus leaf, had just run out.

We liked what we saw of Patoo but will have to mark it down for atmosphere on account of the big chill.

We’re hoping it’s fixed by your visit but you’ll be sure of a warm welcome.

Food cost (for two courses) £43.75 and drinks - two beers at £3.30 and jasmine tea for two at £3.60 – brought the total to £53.95.