Nahm has got a couple of pretty big claims to culinary greatness. It was the first Thai restaurant in Europe to be awarded a Michelin star, while Australian chef David Thompson was invited by the Thai government to take up a consultancy role at its Suan Dusit culinary institute. High praise indeed. And if the former has been slightly tarnished by its (controversial) loss in 2011, frankly who are we to argue with the latter?
You enter into a calm, moodily lit wooden-panelled space of orange, green and earthy tones. Achingly cool and contemporary it certainly isnt. But like the Halkin hotel that surrounds it, its a model of growing old gracefully. Our meal began with a couple of perceptive recommendations we were steered away from the spicy salads (wisely in light of the spice fest that was to come) and towards the zingy signature Ginger martini aperitif.
And then we were off. The set menu began with a starter of deliciously light and fragrant green chicken curry wafers (Kanom muang gai kem) and a palate-clearing clear vegetable broth with bean curd (Geng jeut jae). The mains were a fiery rollick from Chiang Mai pork with tomato relish and grilled trout (Nahm prik ong), through to squid cooked in its ink with sugar snap peas (Plaa meuk pat tua) where the crunch of the peas offset the slipperier texture of the squid nicely stir-fried wild mushrooms (Pot het pbaa), spicy venison cooked with turmeric, wild ginger and chillies (Neua gwarng pat ped). And it was all sensational. Down to the last mouthful. One particular word of advice: whatever you do, do not pass on dessert. Coconut cake with jasmine syrup and lychee, embellished with edible gold leaf it was out of this world.
If you were really going to pick at Nahm, you might be able to find fault in the atmosphere on ELLEuks Monday night visit it was pin-drop quiet. The bill might be another potential sticking point. But to see in a special occasion with some serious Thai food, there arent many places in London (or Europe?) that come close.
The ELLEuk Score
Style of food: Thai
Good for: Romantic; group dinner
Prices and Other Details at Nahm
Address: 5 Halkin Street, Belgravia, London, SW1X 7DJ
Opening times: Mon-Fri: 12-2.30pm and 7-10.30pm; Sat/Sun: 7-10.30pm
Average price per person for two-course meal without wine: £40
Set menu: £60
Price of bottle of house wine: £23
Price of glass of house wine: £6
Price of glass of house champagne: £11
Price of bottle of house champagne: £65.00
Private dining? A private dining room seats 30
Garden/al fresco dining? No
Bar? The Halkin Bar is a quiet, relaxed spot for an aperitif (and serves particularly good martinis).
Best table? One of the tables in the booths to the left of the door as you enter.
Who goes? Smart Belgravia-ites and hotel guests refueling after a day's hitting the shops of Knightsbridge.
Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner