MIDWEEK trips to eat out are pretty rare, so making a good choice when such opportunities do arise is important. In this case, it was Melissa’s suggestion we try Dao Siam, after a glowing report from one of her friends.

I was surprised to learn Dao Siam had been open eight years – I had no idea there was a Thai restaurant tucked away there on Charles Street – but based on our first visit, I would happily return.

The restaurant itself is relatively small and when we arrived shortly after 6.30pm, we were the only people there which made us feel a little self conscious.

Rather than going through the extensive menu and picking individual dishes, we took the easy way out and went for one of the set menus. At £19.95 a head it wasn’t cheap, particularly as it did not include dessert, but the large selection of dishes made it sound like a tempting proposition.

The starter, which included spring rolls, fishcakes, chicken satay, prawn toast and prawns wrapped in filo pastry, was good if not spectacular. The best bit for me was the fishcakes, which had a lovely fresh lemongrass flavour. The rest of the selection was piping hot – not always the case with such platters – and had clearly been cooked to order, which was a definite plus.

There was a decent wait for the main course, during which time more diners arrived, which was a bit of a relief.

When it arrived, the main course was excellent. The traditional spicy green beef curry was fresh and spicy and packed with flavour, while the Thai-style sweet and sour chicken was something of a revelation for me. I’m not usually a fan of sweet and sour – it always seems too thick and just too sweet for my liking – but the thin, well-balanced sauce served with this dish was excellent.

As well as the two meat dishes, we received a selection of stir fried vegetables in oyster sauce, which was fine but nothing out of the ordinary, along with fragrant rice and traditional Phad Thai – the definite highlight of the meal. It was sweet, sticky, spicy and, quite frankly, perfect. In fact my only criticism of the Phad Thai was that I could have eaten more and I would have happily swapped the stir-fried vegetables for a larger portion. Melissa was similarly impressed.

In all, we enjoyed our first visit to Dao Siam. The service was good while the food was obviously freshly prepared and of a high standard.

If you’ve not visited before, I’d certainly recommend giving it a try.