Patara used to be my go-to for refined and elegant Thai cuisine at equally "sophisticated" prices. To me, it was a case of "you pay for what you get". The food was pricey, but generally well worth it.
But its recently-launched Ala Carte Weekend Lunch Buffet ($44++) seems like a bit of a sell-out. In an attempt to pander to the mass market dollar, Patara's food has lost that bit of polish which made the fine-dining stalwart a notable standout. The buffet, while extremely easy on the wallet and reasonably value-for-money, was clunky, and when held up against its ala carte menu, pedestrian. I thought the buffet was a poor showing of how well Patara usually does. My take is to stick to the ala carte menu, where the food tends to be markedly more finely-tuned.
The Pla Gao Sam Ros, battered fried fish fillet with three-flavoured dipping sauce was amateurish but tasty nonetheless.
One of the few highlights was the Goong Phad Cha, prawns stir-fried with crispy garlic and robust peppercorns. Loved the textural contrast of the springy prawns and crunchy garlic.
The soups were generally decent, with the Tom Yum Goong, the classic Thai hot and sour soup littered with fresh prawns, bold and well-balanced.
The Poh Taek Talay, may have appeared clear but it was deceptively spicy, a nice contrast with the intense sour accents of the soup and dotted with a medley of fish, prawns and squid.
The meat dishes were mostly pedestrian. Like the Gai Phad Med Mamuang, stir-fried chicken with cashews and dried chillis.
The Nua Phad Prik Thai, comprised stringy, chewy beef strips laden with mixed peppers, onions and spring onion and doused in a black pepper sauce.
The Ped Yang Phad Ka-Praow, duck breast with green peppercorns and crisp basil, was terribly dry and gamey. We didn't finish it.
The curries fared better; the Gaeng Kaew Wan Gai, with succulent chicken, baby eggplant and basil, was bathed in a fragrant creamy green curry.
The grilled australian beef sirloin in the Panang Nuea Yang was overdone; chewy and sinewy, but the luscious nutty curry was glorious.
The Ka Na Phad Hedlom, stir-fried chinese kailan with shitake and oyster sauce, made for obligatory but lovely crunchy greens.
The Khao Phad Poo, fried rice with minute bits of crabmeat, was largely unimpressive, but great fodder for the panang curry gravy.
The Khao Phad Nam Liab, fried rice with olives, minced chicken and cashews, was pretty darn delicious. Complex, flavoursome, and generously laden with ingredients.
Desserts are served in shot glasses, a well-thought-out portioning for an ala carte buffet. The Tab Tim Krob Ruam Mitr, red ruby cubes in coconut milk, was abysmal. The coconut milk had split, and the red ruby was waaaaay too raw.
The Khao Niew Ma Muang, mango sticky rice with coconut milk, was notably better. Sweet juicy mangoes, and soft mushy rice sweetened by warm coconut milk.
A small assortment of Thai cakes, with coconut jellies and ta kor, was the best of the lot. Loved the ta kor, a nuanced layered pandan jelly studded with sweet corn and coconut pudding.
Patara Fine Thai Cuisine
163 Tanglin Road
Tel: 6737 0818
Open daily from 12noon to 3pm for lunch and from 6pm to 10pm for dinner