It wasn't all that long ago that Belmont seemed to be a virtual restaurant wasteland, with relatively few good options anywhere in town. But much like Arlington (its northern neighbor), this quiet and very low-key western suburb has seen a real increase in the number of good dining spots over the past decade or two, including some impressive restaurants such as Kashish, an Indian dining spot in the center of town, and Patou, a Thai restaurant a few doors down from Kashish that is the focus of this review and which is one of the better suburban options for Thai cuisine while remaining well under the radar except to those who live nearby.
Patou has a slightly unusual setup, as it is long and narrow (much like several other spots in Belmont Center). But the space is used wisely, with the fairly spacious front and back areas having several tables and the hallway-like middle area having room for a few more people (as well as a window giving a view of the kitchen). There is also a patio out back that, while not overly attractive, has been spruced up a bit of late and is a nice spot to enjoy some fresh air on a warm summer night.
The menu at Patou leans more toward authentic Thai dishes than Americanized items, but you can still order familiar dishes such as Pad Thai here--and it is a very good version indeed, with fresh-tasting noodles and a mild but tasty peanut sauce. For starters, the menu at Patou includes a slightly sweet and mild chicken coconut soup, a relatively hot tom yum soup, a tiger's tear salad (char-broiled sirloin steak with veggies and spicy herbs), vegetable tempura, a wonderful beef satay that features lean and tender curry-coated grilled meat, a similarly satisfying chicken satay, warm and comforting curry rolls with chicken, and mussels that have just a hint of spice. Patou also has a particularly nice appetizer special that is offered occasionally--steamed rolls with delicious char-grilled chicken, noodles, and vegetables that comes with a sweet sauce and a hot sauce.
Entrees at Patou include country-style chicken basil (screaming hot, spicy, and full of flavor, with a nicely textured ground chicken), pineapple fried rice (an almost Polynesian-style dish with mouthwatering pieces of grated pork on top), spicy chicken fried rice (very hot, with sliced chicken, basil, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, onions, and scallions), racha trio (sauteed beef, chicken, and pork loin in light plum sauce with pineapple pieces and veggies), sauteed squid with vegetables, a sneaky-hot red curry that comes with either beef or chicken, and rama garden (vegetables with peanut sauce). Patou also has a liquor license (which used to be unheard of in Belmont) and serves several beers, including the light and tasty Chang Beer. Overall prices are just a bit high for some of the food and drink at Patou, but still quite reasonable.
Patou is not well known at all, perhaps because Belmont is still seen as a town lacking in good dining spots. This is a bit of a shame, because places such as Patou, Kashish, and others have helped make Belmont a decent place to go for food (though perhaps not quite a culinary destination). If you like Thai food and want to find a place with authentic entrees, friendly service, and very easy parking (plenty of spots out back), definitely consider trying this Belmont Center spot at some point.
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