Nashville Restaurants and Food
207 Woodland Street
One Thai joint moves out and another takes its place. It seems a little odd, but who’s arguing if the food is good. In fact this location on Woodland Street, across from LP Field, has been a virtual revolving door for restaurants in the last few years. The last incarnation was Pad Thai Kitchen, which has since reopened on Gallatin Pike. The Woodland spot is a no man’s land in between East Nashville and Downtown, and yet convenient to both. Here’s hoping Thai Phooket can keep it bustling.
The food should help. It’s generally well executed and tasteful, showing some craftsmanship in the kitchen. The Tom Kar soup has a nice balance of delicate flavors. The chicken and mushroom retain a little texture and bite. The Phooket Salad features a warm satay sauce over crisp veggies. The tofu is firm and well flavored. Spicy Curry Noodles are fat rice noodles in a gratifying brown curry sauce. At three on the spice scale (1-5) it has a mellow background heat. The snap of green peppers and moist pork give the dish some definition.
Another visit shows summer rolls to be crunchy and fresh. Mint and cilantro jump out and a great peanut sauce on the side brings it all home. The Smiling Nashville Duck may provoke images of the movie “A Christmas Story” (it’s smiling at me…). No such worries: this is a pretty plate with slices of crispy, fried duck topped with a tangle of wontons. The meat is a little chewy. The flavor is all there though, and the sweet panang sauce gives a light accompaniment to the duck and fresh veggies.
It’s rare that we make it to desert. Thai Phooket has a couple of good options: Banana fried in wontons comes with a honey and sesame drizzle; green sticky rice is just barely sweet and a nice finish to the meal.
There are veggie friendly options for nearly every item on the menu, with tofu options a good choice.
Veggie Eater: I love Pad Thai and have spent much of my adult life in search of my perfect version. The last time we ate Thai, the meat eater dissuaded me from ordering my standard (trying to get her to actually try something different-M.E.), and I regretted that decision ever since. So, on our first visit, I forged ahead and ordered what I wanted, the Pad Thai, and regretted this decision ever since. They offer you a choice of heat from 1-5 (hottest). I told the waitress to bring it all on. I am used to the Gringo bias when dining out…I firmly believe that if you are a non Ethnic looking Caucasian, ethnic restaurant staff try to save you from yourself when ordering hot food and act as a buffer to the diner’s decision with the kitchen staff. So when I got my sweet, barely discernibly spicy noodles, I was disappointed. The noodles were at least well cooked, but the sauce was a syrupy mess. And this dish seemed to be missing eggs. Meat Eater had a really hard time getting me back for a return visit (and since I am partly Sicilian, I harbor a grudge), but I am glad he prevailed.
On the second visit I had the Masaman curry and was delighted. It was almost stew like in presentation. It was served in a large bowl full of firm tofu, chunks of potato, carrots, onions, and cashews served in a silky coconut based curry with hints of tamarind, cardamom, cinnamon. Perfectly cooked jasmine rice (I have great envy for this feat as I am not capable of making well cooked rice) rounded out the delightful dish. I also ordered this as a 5 on the heat scale, but got about a 3. In this case, the heat was respectable, but not overwhelming, and allowed the curry sauce to shine.
Meat Eater: It’s cool to have a dependable, veggie-friendly Thai spot in East Nashville. Here’s hoping the folks at Thai Phooket can overcome the history of this location and serve up curry for many years to come. We paid $33 with tax and tip for two entrees and an appetizer on one visit and $32 with tax and tip for two entrees, a salad and appetizer for another.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Nashville Restaurants and Food