Winterlicious 2011 – Bangkok Garden

Better late than never, it’s been a busy week!

For my last Winterlicious adventure I went to what I’ve heard is a Toronto staple in Thai dining and has been around for almost 30 years – Bangkok Garden on Elm Street. I had first heard about this place when I was  booking a spa day at Elmwood Spa because they have great packages which include dining at Bangok Garden as part of your retreat. I then discovered that it was actually one of the first Thai places to open up in the city.

Upon walking up to the small awning on Elm Street you would think that the space would be very small and quaint but to your surprise (and mine) you will find a large, open, two storey venue with a lush garden inside and a small river running through the main floor. The lighting is dim and the ceiling is adorned with wooden fixtures and lighting. It definitely surprised me because it almost felt like the design didn’t belong in Toronto – it felt like an older uncle of the famous New York Tao but their carpets and upholstery could DEFINITELY use some upgrades!

We sat down to our meal and quickly ordered our drinks and then made our choices for the meal – everything on the menu looked so good, a great combination of crowd favorites and adventurous options.

On the Menu:

Chicken Satay – tender strips of chicken marinated in coconut milk with a hint of curry and barbequed to perfection, served with peanut sauce and tangy cucumber salad
Thai Calamari – Calamari marinated in a Thai curry powder batter and fried until golden crisp, served with sweet chili garlic dipping sauce

Seafood Pad Thai – Thai rice noodles stir-fried with black tiger shrimp, scallops, calamari and eggs in a homemade tamarind sauce
Grilled Lemon Grass Cornish Hen – Cornish Hen marinated in lemon grass and hoisin sauce grilled to perfection and served with stir-fried vegetables and steamed jasmine rice

Banana Fritter & Coconut Ice Cream

The appetizers were both exactly as described and because the calamari was fried (NOT the healthy option) I definitely indulged. The sauce they came with is one of my favourites, perfect combo of sweet and spicy. The chicken was juicy and tender and I actually didn’t mind the peanut sauce so much. Both these appetizers were great for sharing which of course we did!

The pad thai was pretty standard, nothing out of the ordinary but still delicious. I still wonder about this rumor that the pad thai sauce used in restaurants is really just ketchup….

The seafood helpings in the pad thai was very generous and we still wiped the plate clean so no complaints. The Cornish Hen was also great – mainly because of the lemon grass. I didn’t actually know what lemon grass was but whatever it is, it made my chicken DELISH and added the perfect kick. After my duck experience at Origin, anything I see that’s marinated in hoisin sauce I’m all up for trying. So good. except that the portion was HUGE as you can see by the picture. No way we could finish this one.

Coconut ice cream.  That’s all I have to say.  Ever since my Barcelona excursion a few years ago I can’t ever have plain vanilla and I’m still on the search of where I can buy a tub of coconut ice cream so it’s always in my freezer.  The banana fritter was a great companion but for me, it was all about the ice cream.

All in all a good meal, definitely not something you would be taking a risk on if you ventured out there. I feel if they were to update their décor a little, throw in a kick-ass DJ nestled in the garden/flowing river, they could have a pretty happening spot on their hands.

And so another Winterlicious closes with some great success and a few extra pounds to burn off at the gym! So when does Summerlicious start???

Address:  18 Elm Street, 416-977-6748
Parking:  Street parking if you’re lucky, otherwise you might have to look around
Price:  $$
Service:  7.5/10
Food: 8/10
Ambience: 8/10

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