September 2 2017

All Thai-d up! The best Thai restaurants in Bath

We hereby present, for your delectation, a whistlestop tour of the Thai restaurants that we believe to be the best in Bath. Do you agree? Have we left your favourite Thai restaurant off the list? Have your say! The Pig Guide is open all hours…

Yum Yum Thai Despite its relatively fuss-free countenance (there be no “traditional” gold braided dragon-related paraphernalia in this cheerful contemporary diner), the restaurant known as The Pig Guide’s go-to ‘off duty’ haven (we make no bones about our longstanding love affair with YYT’s beef penang) offers solace and succour to those in dire need of a life-affirming blast of healthy, uncomplicated but highly flavoursome food at budget-friendly prices, resulting in an antidote to many of life’s ills on (several) plates. The prescription for your chosen remedy is refreshingly simple to decipher: simply choose a main course from a classic Thai selection, the majority of which are priced at £11-12.50 inclusive of rice or noodles, with dishes on the ‘specialities’ selection costing a couple of quid more. You can, if you wish, supplement your choice with a side order from 15-strong cast list all fluctuating around the £5.20-7.50 mark, although main course portion size negates the necessity for such excesses, treatsome though they may be. Meanwhile, the restaurant’s mission statement is admirably straightforward too: organic, free range and/or locally sourced produce pushed to the fore, MSG banned from the premises and the meat in most dishes effortlessly replaced with tofu to create a veggie version. All in all, expect fuss-free fresh food in a friendly, vibrant flavour emporium that fully lives up to its name – yum yum indeed.

Koh Thai Tapas This sparkly, casually glamorous non-stop exotic cabaret experience adheres to an authentic format when it comes to the food selection on offer, but offers a thoroughly modern vibe in terms of decor, service and overall USP, with the easygoing mix-and-match menu formula (yes, we’re on tapas-style/small plate territory here) adding a bang up-to-date edge to proceedings. All manner of tantalising dishes are presented on a menu that skips almost seamlessly from nibbles (sweetcorn cakes; dim sum; Thai fishcakes) to sturdier mains (Koh’s signature Jungle Curry; perfect penang; macho massimann lamb) by way of the must-try 24 hour ribs, red/green/yellow curries and lesser-spotted delights such as aubergine kung chuchee and mussels in crispy bacon. But if the choice overwhelms you, kick back and put yourself in the capable hands of the experts: £22-£26pp gets you a bespoke sharing feast based on your particular preferences (meat or fish, hot or mild, etc), bringing new friends and old favourites alike to the party. Party? Yes indeed; cocktails go large here… and very good they are too.

The Thai Balcony The Thai Balcony celebrates its 14th birthday this year. It’s not the kind of restaurant, however, where any notion of a teenage tantrum may be tolerated; this sophisticated upper-level dining room is a distinctly grown up experience, specialising in the innately unique characteristics of authentic Thai cuisine served up in refined, subtly glamorous surroundings. Lunch here is light on the waistline, the palate and the wallet (circa £7 for one dish, £8-9 for two courses) and, at the time of writing, the luxurious lobster pad thai (£18.95) is trending at the ‘push the boat out’ end of the menu. But pretty much everything on the a la carte, from the familiar (hot and sour soups; red, green and penang curries) to the specialities (the black pepper lamb is highly recommended) never fail to delight, entice and satiate. Meanwhile, the restaurant’s own Mini Mart (Monmouth Street) is a one-stop shop for far eastern ingredients plus freshly prepared ready meals to-go: an excellent option for those who fail to book their table at the restaurant in advance.

The Thai Hut The Pig Guide is addicted to street food on-the-hoof from the Thai Hut in Green Park Station: huge portions of fabulously fresh, authentic Thai tastebud-tinglers (including amazing vegetarian options) at rock-bottom prices, circa £5-£6. On any given day, expect to encounter a selection that may include jungle curry, black pepper/honey sesame/peanut chicken, positively salacious satays, duck penang, chilli garlic beef, vegetable-laden pad thai – seriously, Piggies, you HAVE to take to the hut!

Charm If the production crew who worked on the 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun had gone and found somewhere to eat when filming in Bangkok, I’d imagine that they’d have discovered somewhere a bit like Charm: walls bedecked with sparkly, ornate fabrics; banquette seating scattered with plush velvet cushions; all manner of discrete little nooks and crannies to hide/smooch in… and cocktails galore to be partnered with the drunken noodles, pad phriks, nam prik paos and steamy things that proliferate on a menu that’s extensive, to say the least. The Lunch Express menu (Monday-Friday 12noon-3pm) is particularly good value for money (even by comparison to 1974 prices), and the staff are super-gracious, no matter how many Red Devils you imbibe with your gyozas. It may not be the most ‘serious’ Thai food you’ll discover in Bath, but the experience is certainly amongst the most charming.

Salathai Tucked away on the corner of pretty little Pierrepont Place, Salathai offers city-centre quality at off-the-beaten-track prices. A firm favourite with locals and tourists alike, this bright and breezy diner offers a cafe feel by day and a more intimate, bistro atmosphere at night, and offers a wide range of classic Thai dishes, including plenty of solid seafood/vegetarian options. The food may not be superposh gourmet standard, but everything is very fresh, and the welcome exceedingly warm.

Thaikhun From the get-go, the decor – think, the lanes within a Bangkok Street Market, and all the brightly coloured, eclectic knick-knackery that comes with such a theme – has turned what could have been a big, bland space into a a fun’n’funky canteen with an ambience that’s definitely more Thai bazaar than tastelessly bizarre. Staff wear the kind of clothes that you’d expect the kids to bring back from their gap year travels (brightly patterned harem pants, t-shirts adorned with Thai-to-English translations, etc) rather than traditional Thai garb, and the massive menus start with a cocktail selection that, while not necessarily reflecting the kind of authentic liquid refreshment options that you’d be offered in and around Silom and Salthorn Roads, definitely invoke a nostalgia for sunny days on distant shores. The food, meanwhile, dances along to the beat that’s already set the scene: easygoing starters and sharing platters; multiple stir-fries; a well-balanced grill section: if you can’t find at least three dishes with your name on it here, you’re not really paying attention – unless, that is, you’re not a fan of Far Eastern flavours.

***Coming Soon***

Giggling Squid Promising ‘staggeringly good Thai food’ served up in the auspicious surroundings of the Grade ii-listed Bluecoat House (yup, a cornerstone of the soon-to-be-unveiled Saw Close redevelopment), Giggling Squid is poised to bring yet another dimension to the Bath Thai food scene. The restaurant is set to open its doors in September; meanwhile, read the Giggling Squid backstory here.

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