It’s a good time to review restaurants in Memphis. In the past week, the city has gained at least three new places that are worth trying.
I went to Thai Bistro’s new downtown location for an early dinner last night.
Because we were there so early, my dinner buddy and I had the place to ourselves. Maybe it’s because the restaurant just opened, but the atmosphere is a little weird. I think it’s because there’s nothing on the walls – no art, no posters, just lots of peachy paint and one giant mirror. There is a bar, but it’s not set up yet because their liquor license hasn’t kicked in yet. The place has that just-moved-in feel, which is fine, since, you know, they did.
The good news is that the rest of the Thai Bistro experience was the work of old pros. It was our server’s first day, but he was friendly and attentive and knew the huge menu pretty well.
We started with some fried vegetable rolls ($3) and a Som Tum papaya salad ($8). The vegetable rolls were fairly standard, but they were good.
I had never tried papaya salad before, and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The menu described it as “a mix of shredded green papaya, carrots, tomato and peanut with a spicy lemon sauce, served on a bed of mixed greens. It had a little spicy asterisk next to it, so I was prepared for a little bit of heat, but I thought that the papaya would balance it with some sweetness. Apparently, green papaya isn’t exactly sweet.
This is a very spicy salad. Not spicy in a too-hot-to-eat kind of way, but more in a if-I-stop-eating-I’ll-notice-my-mouth-tingling kind of way.
For dinner, I stuck with the basics and ordered Pad Thai with chicken ($12). The dish is a Thai restaurant classic, and the Thai Bistro version didn’t disappoint. The portion was huge, the chicken was tender (and there was a ton of it), and the sauce was sweet and peanutty and limey. I would definitely order it again.
I should have been a little more adventurous in my ordering, though, because my dinner buddy’s Pla-Dook was amazing. It was two big pieces of fried catfish surrounded by chopped zucchini, peppers and carrots in a chili sauce. The sauce had a little kick, but after the papaya salad, it didn’t seem like much. (Note – you can order most dishes at the spiciness of your choice.)
Thai Bistro is open daily for lunch and dinner. They’re also going to serve brunch on Sundays. Last weekend, they posted that they would have $1 mimosas at brunch, but didn’t get their liquor license in time. If the sign in the window is to be believed, they should have it by this weekend, though.
Thai Bistro (downtown)
148 Madison Ave.
Memphis, TN 38103