"Well hey now. What's this? A new restaurant reviewer at the Courier-Journal?" Robin Garr coyly asks this question as he recalls his visit to Thai Cafe, supposedly spurred by Garr's irritation over Nancy Miller's use of the word "consummate."
"Consummate skill"? Whoa! Really? Let's look that one up in Webster's: "Carried to the utmost extent or degree; of the highest quality; complete; perfect." This is high praise indeed, although it leaves unclear how a "perfect" eatery didn't quite merit that coveted fourth star. Once I had seen the word "consummate," anyway, I couldn't un-see it. I've been a fan of this little Holiday Manor eatery since it opened in 1994. I'm fond of it, with its friendly owners Chavantee and Billy Snow, as a comfortable, casual, neighborhood place. But I couldn't fairly rank it in the city's top tier. I was in the mood for Thai anyway, and I hadn't reviewed the Cafe for years. Why not follow in Ms. Miller's tracks and see whether I thought it was "consummate," too?Possibly with his dictionary as a date, Garr follows "Ms. Miller's tracks" to his dinner.
Without revealing the hour of his dinner, Garr does reveal the date, cattily seeming "a bit surprised" to find Thai Café "not very crowded on the day of the review." He then demonstrates his familiarity with the "friendly owners" by wondering whether his welcoming server was "Mr. Snow, perhaps?" Agreeing with Miller's definition of Thai Cafe's menu as "extensive," Garr disagrees with "Ms. Miller's observation that the decor could use some updating," finding the colors "homey and fun" and giving particular praise to the "life-size Buddha statue in a corner." (Editor's note: there are no accurate records of the Buddha's actual size.) As far as the food? Garr writes:
[I]t ranged from pretty good to really good, and that's about what I want of a cozy ethnic spot. Papaya salad was fresh but uninspired … Laab moo … resembled the papaya salad … Summer rolls ($6.95) hit the spot. A mix of crisp and tender textures and fresh summer flavors, shredded carrots, lettuce, cucumber and tofu were tightly wrapped in translucent rice paper and served with a spicy-soy dipping sauce.Garr is disappointed in the heat level of his noodle dish, but a "quick response" of two dishes of hot sauce make him happy, including the one he described as a "green-flecked clear fluid of fire." Garr closes the book on Thai Café by saying: "'Consummate?' No. But just fine, and that's enough to win my praise."
· Thai Café: Not Quite "Consummate," But Fun [Voice Tribune]
· Thai Cafe [Official Site]
· All Eater Week in Reviews [~ELOU~]