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High on Thai at Restaurant Thaïlande

Posted by Andrea in Montreal + Places on 03/Mar/2008
With few exceptions, I never order anything that I can cook well myself. Thai is one cuisine that I would love to wow guests with. Its distinguishing feature is the use of coconut milk, lemon grass, peanuts and chilli peppers in harmonious constellations for consumption. But sadly, I've never actually done anything about studying it, maybe because I am a regular at Restaurant Thaïlande. Let's face it, we're a lazy species, and if others can do it better, why not go to them?

The Ambiance

The décor is tasteful: the U-shaped space is punctuated with authentic Thai paintings, yellow gold elephants and wooden carvings set off by burnished gold table cloths. The centre piece is a raised dining area where you can sit seemingly on the floor (but really your legs dangle below) with prisms of the colourful, geometric designs of Thai fabric at your back. A fish tank gleams at the entrance and desserts gleam opposite it.

The Food

A word or two about the menu. The degree of spiciness is marked by one, two or three chilli peppers which, despite the arbitrary nature of “spicy" in the western world, are a good gauge. A few non-Thai dishes taint the menu such as Imperial Rolls and Fried Rice. I guess they are there for the new comers; otherwise, the menu is completely Thai. There is an extensive wine list as well. However, my take on wine with Asian cuisine is that it just doesn't go. A light beer, tea, water or rice wine (sake) works best.

On to the meal. We started with Kiao Satay, dumplings with peanut sauce ($6.95); Por Pia Sod, Thai spring rolls ($4.95); and my all-time favourite Tom Yum Kha ($3.95 for the small soup) – a “fusion of lemon grass and coconut milk" with a choice of chicken, fish, shrimp, seafood or straw mushrooms. I went for the latter. Mmm, mmm! And Sake.

For the main course, we shared Ped Yang, boneless roasted duck with sautéed spinach in soya sauce ($16.95); Kaeng Panaeng, Panaeng curry with coconut milk, fresh peppercorn and lime leaves with lamb ($12.95); one steamed rice and one sticky rice. Both dishes were sublime. My only lament is that they weren't necessarily complimentary to each other. On that score, it would be helpful if the waiters offered guidance in choosing a complimentary line-up of dishes and drinks for the meal. You can hazard a guess as the menu is fairly descriptive, but it is always nice to have recommendations from someone who knows the cuisine. For the quality, the prices are very reasonable which is why I've included them. For two people, appetizer and main course, the bill is basically $50. If you are in for drinks and one of the House Specialties, the bill for two is $80. Of the many times I have been there over the years, I have only ordered dessert once; coconut milk, a staple ingredient of many savoury dishes, is surprisingly rich, so I usually reach my limit after the main course. I also don't have much of a sweet tooth. That said, the desserts are varied and fairly light – worth saving room for.

Of course, you can't force attraction. If Thai's not your type, well, end of story. But, if it is, don't deny yourself.

Restaurant Thaïlande
88 Bernard Ouest (on the corner of St. Urbain) in Mile End.
Tel: 514-271-6733
Open evenings: Monday to Thursday 17:00-22:30; Friday and Saturday 17:00-23:00. Open for lunch: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 11:30-14:00.

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