Thursday, June 02, 2011

Thai Café

Today we took advantage of Jackson’s still being in school to gallivant about town for the afternoon, and we zipped up to Broad Ripple to satisfy Amy’s craving for Thai food at Thai Café. It’s one of three ethnic places lined up in a row in a strip mall area just east of, I don’t know…Winthrop? The dining area is a small space that will hold maybe two dozen diners on a busy night, and yet it did not feel precisely cramped. We were seated immediately and asked if we wanted more to drink than the water that our server poured for us (also immediately); and when we declined additional beverages, we were left to peruse the menu.

Said menu contained the full complement of standard Thai offerings, including noodles and curries and soups and appetizers, many of which trade heavily on the signature Thai flavors of chile, lemongrass, lime, coconut milk, and sweet basil. And before I get any further with this, I want to note one thing in particular. You, the diner, get to choose how spicy your dish will be. Though Thai restaurants have started to explode on the culinary scene here in Indianapolis, I suspect that many people still think of Thai food as the ultra-spicy redheaded stepchild of Chinese cuisine. Though the flavor of chile peppers is an important element of Thai cuisine, it need not be present in every dish.

You also don’t have to break the bank. While Thai food is generally a bit more expensive than Chinese it is, also generally, of much higher quality; and Thai Café has a lunch menu with seven different entrées at $6.95 a pop. Dinner entrées will run you two to four dollars more, and appetizers are in the $7-$9 range and are so generously portioned that they might well serve as a meal unto themselves for people with lighter appetites.

Amy and I each had the lunch portion of Padd Priew Waan, which consisted of pineapple and vegetables stir-fried in a sweet and sour tomato sauce. With each entrée, you get your choice of meat (beef, chicken, pork) or tofu; or you can go vegetarian or vegan with any entrée on the menu. Amy had chicken, and I had tofu. Entrées come with soup or salad, and we each chose the lemongrass soup—a light chicken broth flavored with lemongrass and accented with cilantro. It was just a bit salty, but the flavors were balanced and well proportioned. We got a plate of vegetarian spring rolls, which was $6.95 for six; and I thought that might be too many, but we made them disappear.

The main course was also quite good. The Padd Priew Waan was served very simply with a mound of white rice and had big chunks of tofu and pineapple and vegetables. I went with a three on the 0-5 heat scale, but could not really detect anything serious in the way of heat. The sauce was maybe a little strong in both the sweet and sour departments, but was still delicious. I imagine there will be a return trip in the near future for a run at their Padd Thai, a stir-fried noodle dish. Jasmine Thai (on 96th Street) has the best Padd Thai I’ve ever had, but I have no doubt that Thai Café is going to give it a run for its money.

1041 Broad Ripple Avenue

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