IT was certainly an auspicious day when we decided to treat ourselves to a meal at the new Thai restaurant on Northgate Street in Chester.

It was my last day at work after 40-odd years in newspapers - and more importantly it was my wife's 50-something birthday.

We had holidayed in Thailand a few years ago and loved it, especially the friendly smiling people and the wonderfully fragrant food.

So... we were off for a taste of Thailand on the coldest day of the year, walking against the full chill-factor strength of the Beast from the East.

Our first choice was a no-brainer having been chilled to the core. Thai soups are divine and the hot and spicy king prawn Tom Yum Yung seemed like the perfect antidote to the Big Freeze outside.

The first mouthful was like stepping back into the Far East. It was punchy enough to induce that 'catch the back of the throat' splutter while being fabulously fragrant and aromatic too.

The bitter wind outside was blown away within seconds of the first few delicious draughts as a warming glow filled our bellies. It's a 10 out of 10 on the Bowan scale, folks!

Next I went for the Pad Thai, a Siamese classic comfort food while my wife opted for Fiesty Fish, an exotically flavoured fish with a bit of kick.

My Pad Thai was very tasty and the noodles were packed with tender medalions of chicken.

It was good but across the table Mrs B was in raptures over her crispy-on-the-outside sea bass with moist flesh inside... all covered with soft coating of tangy spices.

There were a couple of quibbles though.

The waiter thought the fish came with rice but it didn't. Coconut rice was £2 extra.

What was worse was that they both came piping hot but on stone cold plates, which I regard as a crime against gastronomy.

I did mention my gripe about the cold plates to the head man and he was most apologetic - and sincere in his remorse too, thanking us for it pointing out as 'feedback makes us better'.

It gave me the chance to quiz him about the name. Why Nine Elephants?

We already knew that Thais revere their elephants and it turns out the 'Nine' is an auspicious number - as the spoken word for number nine is the same as the word which means going forward with optimism.

Although we went on a Wednesday lunchtime and the place was empty, Nine Elephants still had a nice ambience with interesting decor. I imagine it must be an oasis of hustle and bustle towards and into the weekend.

We liked Nine Elephants.

It wasn't cheap but it's nice to indulge yourself once in a while.

It was an auspicious day after all.

How it rated:

Nine Elephants, 1a Upper Northgate Street, Chester CH1 4EE Tel: 01244 959796

Ambience - 8/10

Service - 9/10

Food - 9/10

Wheelchair friendly - Two steps

Children friendly - Yes