V has said on a number of occasions that if she were ever to become obscenely rich, the only "unnecessary luxury" that she would permit herself would be a private chef, preferably a Thai one.
Situated along the ground floor of Locke's Wharf with a riverside terrace overlooking the Cutty Sark, Elephant Royal is the Island's most ambitious (i.e. expensive) eatery. It's been around for several years, but up until last Sunday our feet had remained cold, largely because we are still a several 0s short of scatological wealth and have also found it remarkably difficult to discover fully satisfying Thai restaurants within a reasonable distance of home.
The grub at the Mango Tree in Belgravia may be of a superior look and taste, but I resent the blatant efforts of the staff to cajole you into spending more at every available opportunity. (The unctious little 'sommelier' that once chided me that the wine I had selected didn't go at all well with Thai food, appeared amusingly flapped when I asked him what its role was in that case on their very limited wine list - I was in no mood to be patronised into drinking Chardonnay that night.)
By far my favourite Thai restaurant in London, superb on almost every level, is Thai on the River upstream in Battersea village. Elephant Royale also advertises a Sunday buffet, which at £14:50 a head is around £3 more expensive, but it seemed like a good way to sample the general quality of the menu. The buffet experience also amplifies the ambience of quality hotel restaurant grounded in the Siamese-lite decor of the main dining room.
The results were mixed. The yellow curry, pork dim sum and a mixed seafood dish were all excellent, but then there were the leathery slabs of duck, the effluent Tom Yam soups, and the tooth-crunching chicken parcels. And rice in these joints really ought to be steamed and fragrant not tutti-frutti, tutti-greasi. The best part would have been the desserts, but it's hard to reach that stage without over-grazing on the spicy stuff. The coconut flan was melt-in-the-mouth yummy, and we both enjoyed the "Tako", a mix of jelly balls and sweetcorn covered in a whipped coconut custard.