Food Review: Patoo Thai, 607-609 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield S11 8PT, Tel: 0114 2668196 or 2671616

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Diners love something new at Patoo on Ecclesall Road but in Chesterfield they play safe

Sometimes a woman needs a change.

A different hair style, a career move, perhaps a new car?

But Jariya Sancunakorn has bigger fish to fry – or roast or steam.

After five years as proprietor of Patoo Thai on Ecclesall Road Jariya went the whole hog, so to speak.

She’s revamped the entire restaurant.

Out is the old menu and the Thai colonial red and yellow decor. In is a classy maroon interior with traditional Thai ambiance and subtle lighting.

Jariya, who first came to Sheffield to study for an MSc in International Hospitality Management at Hallam University in 2006, is well pleased with the transformation.

“It’s almost five years since we opened Patoo Thai in November 2010, I thought it was time for a change!” said 46-year-old Jariya.

“We go back to Thailand every three to six months and I talked to a designer there, told him what I was looking for and he came up with some ideas and we went ahead. Some things had to come from Thailand so it took a while. It’s traditional Thai but more classic than the colonial style we had before.

“I really like it.”

So do we.

Speaking of change, it seems that we like it in Sheffield but they aren’t as keen to try something new in Chesterfield.

At least when it comes to Thai food.

“My sister-in-law May runs the Thai Pavilion in Chesterfield (they also have a restaurant in Lichfield) and we have noticed people there like to stick with the same dishes, chicken and prawns and not risk anything a bit spicier or something new,” said Jariya.

“But Sheffield is more adventurous.

“They like to try new dishes and red and green curries, it’s amazing how different the tastes are just 12 miles away from each other. Our Sheffield customers ask us for the food as it would be served in Thailand which means we have to throw in a few more chillies!”

As we arrive at Thai Patoo (Patoo means beautiful ladies) we are greeted by lovely smiles from Jariya and her staff as we battle past an aggressive moth protecting its spot among the brightly flowering plants on the balcony.

It’s a good looking place and inside Jariya’s changes are very impressive.

But what about the food?

We resist with reluctance the schoolboy attraction of ordering weeping tiger, dancing prawns – both of which are on the menu – because it sounds like a film title and over a Singha beer we decide on the starter platter.

This consists of satay chicken, spring rolls, spare ribs, prawn in tempura batter and khanompang na gai – fried bread with sesame seeds and minced pork.

For me the starter was the highlight of the meal.

The satay chicken was beautifully tender and the peanut sauce excellent. The spring roll was light and crisp and packed with vegetables and meat. The spare rib was a decent chunk of meat on three short ribs, tender and spicy with a rich, sweet sauce. The tempura batter was crunchy outside and the prawns cooked to perfection within but the highlight was the khanompang na gai.

Often seen in Asian restaurants and often a disappointment, this was an absolutely lovely combination of tastes and textures. Crunchy fried bread, crisp and aromatic sesame seeds, a good helping of melt-in-the-mouth pork and very little grease. It went perfectly with the sweet chilli sauce dip.

Our main course then arrives with efficiency and charm – I was still chewing my starter – and looks great. I had the crispy roasted duck and khao mapraw better known round these parts as coconut rice.

Joe went for chicken with the chef’s ‘special sauce’ which was meant to be quite spicy and has a pepper icon next to it on the menu indicating some heat.

He also had chicken chow mein, another highlight, packed with chicken, noodles and bean sprouts, its salty, smoky, almost charred flavour was spot-on. I cast a few jealous glances to his side of the table when it all arrived.

My duck was crisp, though the skin could have been crisper. The meat was tender and moist with good flavour that went well with a rich, salty sauce and crunchy rice noodles. All good.

The spice warning seemed unnecessary as Joe’s dish was quite mild but very good. You can see why spice lovers might ask for the ‘Thai version’.

For dessert I can’t resist deep-fried ice cream – Joe has pineapple fritters with coconut and ice cream.

Mine looks like a sweet scotch egg and the doughnut-like batter encases a still firm ice cream. It’s a great idea and tastes fine but the batter is a little thick and doughy in places.

The pineapple fritters are crisp and sweet, the hint of coconut adds a lot, really nice.

Jariya is overseeing production of a shorter menu with better dish descriptions, more pictures and presumably with items like ‘Chef’s Source’ edited out.

“Not had Thai before, one of the best we’ve been to,” opines the lad as we finish. High praise indeed.

Everyone needs a change now and again.

For three courses each, two Singhas and two Cokes our bill came to £63.75.

Star ratings out of five:

Food: 4

Atmosphere: 4

Service: 4

Value: 4

Patoo Thai, 607-609 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield S11 8PT, Tel: 0114 2668196 or 2671616

Open seven days for lunch (12-3pm) and dinner (6-11pm and 11pm). Vegetarian dishes. Disabled access and toilets. Street parking.