When is a pub not a pub? When it’s half a restaurant.

And that’s the case in the centre of Elland where a traditional pub, The Wellington, has given over half its space to a new Thai restaurant and takeaway.

And it looks tailor-made for the transformation as the pub’s in two distinct halves with separate entrances. So while the locals can continue loving their pool, giant TV, ale and fruit machines, the other half is trying out the delights of top-notch Thai cooking.

It’s a win-win for both the restaurant owner and the pub, by showing how diversity – especially such free-thinking as this – can keep the traditional local going.

The pub is under new management and the front of the building will be developed to provide an outdoor dining area.

But now we come to the restaurant name.

Bang Thai Dee sounds more like a burlesque act than a candlelit restaurant in one of the quietest town centres around.

After all, I’m reliably informed there is a burlesque star called Heidi Bang Tidy, whose routines are more Benny Hill than Las Vegas glamour.

In Elland, it’s certainly neither of those.

It’s hardworking Thai women out to show their culinary skills – and they are definitely putting a huge effort in by not only doing the restaurant but completely running the pub’s kitchens. It’s open every day from lunch until late with English dishes dominating the early part of the day with such staples as bangers and mash; ham, egg and chips and the Bang Tidy Welly Burger. Come evening then you’re in for a Thai treat.

The glory about Thai dishes is their vibrancy and colour with more than a nod to healthy eating. Crunchy fresh vegetables are major players in a Thai dish – even if meat is at the centre of it all – and then there’s the presentation.

Veg cut neatly – often even shaped to the point of being sculptured – and you get all that experience at Bang Thai Dee.

When we went there were a couple of groups, including two couples probably in their 60s or early 70s. They were in culinary heaven, but would not normally have been in the Wellington on a Friday night. It shows the concept is working.

And the dishes’ names are great. For starters my wife Ruth went for Tod Mun Kao Pod, deep fried corn cakes served with a sweet chilli dip. Large, crunchy yet light – it’s an enticing way into the meal for vegetarians.

As for me it had to be their signature starter – Bang Thai Dee soup deon special, which is minced chicken and prawn wrapped in wonton pastry in special Thai soup, served with a sprinkle of fresh garlic and coriander. Just think of the fortune that awaits if only they could transfer this taste to a tin. The minced chicken and prawn comes across as upmarket meatballs in the pastry that falls apart in the soup. And the spice is right ... just right with exactly the right amount of kick but not enough to take anything away from the wholesome flavour.

Bang Thai Dee at The Wellington, Southgate, Elland.
 

Mains were Gang Massaman, Thai southern curry with vegetables and potato and you can have this with chicken, pork or beef. We went for beef and it’s served in the traditional way with the meat slow-cooked and left in small chunks rather than in strips. The sauce is rich, pungent and multi-textured – one of those where you can never have enough.

And the other was a saucy number too. Gang Dang is a traditional Thai red curry with mixed vegetables and bamboo and the chicken comes in strips. Red spells heat but there’s no danger here. Spicy, yes, but there’s a myriad of flavours at work with the hotter stuff thwacking the tastebuds a couple of seconds after arriving in the mouth. Something of a sucker punch.

Our stir fried vegetable dish must have had six different vegetables cooked in oyster sauce, putting the way we cook English veg to shame.

There’s not many things in life as sticky as their coconut rice and egg fried jasmine rice which adds a delicate touch.

Ingredients include British pork, chicken and beef sourced fresh from local butchers.

A new sound system separate to the pub will soon be installed and the decor changed to make it more, well, Thai. And with Elland so quiet you’ll never have trouble finding a parking spot.

Tel: 01484 372258

Website: www.facebook.com/BangThaiDee

Opening hours: 12 noon until 11pm 7 days a week (takeaway deliveries from 5pm)

Children: Welcome

Disabled: Access but no disabled toilet

The bill: £31.40

Would you go back?

Definitely