Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bangkok Taste Cuisine, 15 Jefferson ~ 2/20/14

Matt had been here before with a group of friends but we had not been there together so today it was our lunch choice.

Walk into this place and you are greeted by a large, airy room, holding about 15 tables. If this was done in One Trick Pony style, the room would have been stuffed with double or triple the tables. As it is, each table has some privacy, and if they develop a crowd-waiting problem, they have plenty of room for expansion. Decor is minimal and tasteful with most pictures depicting food. This one is in the ladies’ room.

We took a seat in this alcove, holding 4 more tables. At one point a cute little Thai woman stepped out from behind the screen (that leads to the kitchen) and waved at us and said hi as she headed to the ladies’ room. Everything about this place is friendly.
And the menu is quite reasonable for a Thai restaurant, just two large pages, and we started with pork spring rolls. Ah, make that one pork spring roll. (1) is indicated behind it on the menu but we were ordering under time pressure and missed it. Our fault but another server might have mentioned it. Served with wonderful plum sauce that I can still taste as I write this, the roll was deep fried pork wrapped with ground pork, vermicelli, black mushrooms, and carrots in a spring roll wrapper. The pork flavor was a little strong for me but fine for Matt.
We both ordered Pad Thai, mine with tofu, Matt’s with pork, that is described as “the most famous Thai dish.” How could we resist? Stir-fried rice noodles with egg, bean sprouts, and green onions topped with crushed peanuts and lemon ~ amazing. The little taste of lemon juice overall, the lovely noodles, and the egg that was actually noticeable made this an incredible dish, served in a beautiful bowl.
There are five spice levels ~ no spice, mild, medium, hot, extra hot. Matt went medium because he had been here before and can take food a little spicier than I can so I was dilly dallying between mild and medium and our server pipes up with the fact that I could order mild+. Alrighty. Done. We were both happy and be warned that the medium spice level is quite hot.
The portions are large and we each took a box home. Service is exemplary and friendly, the atmosphere is pleasant, and the food is remarkable. This is now our favorite Thai restaurant in Grand Rapids (sorry Erb Thai).

We couldn’t find a website but they are on facebook, although it’s a pretty inactive account.
And like most Thai restaurants in Grand Rapids (Little Bangkok, Forest Hills, the exception), they don't have a liquor license but are working on it.
Bangkok Taste Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Aperitivo and Fish Lads, Downtown Market - 1/30/14

We decided to make another visit to the Downtown Market to see how lunch options were shaping up. And choices are becoming more numerous ~ Tacos el Cunado (although our favorite chef pictured here has left). (The market sign above was also obviously taken earlier.)
Rak Thai (we've already dined at their Northland Drive location)

Rak Thai ~ 12/22/10

                     Fish Lads (earlier photo & current lunch menu),

and Aperitivo (offering a grilled cheese sandwich, and otherwise cheese plates & charcuterie).
We were leaning towards Fish Lads but there was no comfortable place to sit. They have only a small counter (oyster bar) with stools. Tacos el Cunado has a small seating area behind it but we’ve already sampled their tacos. The market provides a dining area for all to enjoy whatever they’ve purchased but it’s an aesthetically cold, pale, and unfriendly space ~ metal furniture with no plants, art, or color.
Granted, there are more tables and chairs there now then when this photo was taken on 8/31 but the atmosphere is not improved.

So we’re toying between Fish Lads and Aperitivo (who has small dining area and now a lunch menu), liking the space at Aperitivo but wanting something from the Fish Lads menu. Out of the blue, a Fish Lads employee tells us we can eat our food over at Aperitivo so long as we purchase a beverage from them to accompany our lunch. Score!

That sealed the deal, and after placing our orders we headed over to Aperitivo to take our place at their counter. One of the owners waited on us and after we informed her of our lunch selections she expertly paired beers for us.
Shortly thereafter, a Fish Lads employee brought us our seafood lunches. Our appetizer was a delightful Crab Cake topped with a delicious aioli and accompanied by a fresh green salad. Exquisite!
We split that and then dug into our main dishes Arctic BLT (Arctic Char, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo) and Fish & Chips (Cod). Both dishes came with fries that were a little over done but there was no complaint about the fish. It’s flown in daily and the flavor reflects that, as does the price. However, Fish Lads announced recently on their facebook page that due to the large volume of business they were doing, they would be able to lower their prices. Good news.
To close out this posting, I'm going to share some photos of the market from its opening weekend (8/31/13 & 9/2/13), which then included a huge Farmers' Market in its parking lot. We're looking forward to that coming back this spring.
The building design is beautiful.
 Second floor greenhouse and the view from upstairs.
This graffiti is now gone and other less than subtle changes are also taking place, including fencing off a nearby underpass so the homeless can no longer sleep there.
To finish off this digression, here are photos taken on 12/3/13 when our staff enjoyed a lunch there.
Aperitivo on Urbanspoon