A group of my friends were in town for Thanksgiving, so we all went out to dinner at Pad Thai last night. The restaurant is located on West Street in Annapolis, just across the street from Stan & Joe’s Saloon and a brief walk from Rams Head Tavern. Warm and inviting, Pad Thai is filled with dark wood floors and tables, unique recessed lighting, and subtle red accent lighting. It has mixed table and bench seating for 30 or so people, plus a small service bar for a half dozen folks. It feels very modern, but is still very approachable and comfortable. Thievery Corporation plays quietly in the background, but not so quietly that you can’t enjoy the slight thump of a subwoofer hanging out somewhere.
The Spring Rolls ($5) are filled with carrots, cabbage, celery and chicken and served with a sweet (but not so “chili”-like) dipping sauce, wrapped tightly in rice paper and deep fried until golden brown. The spring rolls are extra crispy, the rice paper shattering when you take a bite. I found the chicken somewhat forgettable, so I’d probably go for the vegetable version next time (same roll, sans meat). That aside, they were a nice warm up while our party arrived.
I ordered the Red Curry ($11) with chicken and was very pleased. Although I wasn’t expecting a soup-like dish, after reading the menu this morning it’s clear that the base is coconut milk. It makes sharing more difficult, but it works. The dish is red curry in coconut milk, with bamboo shoots, julienned bell peppers, eggplant slices, and basil leaves. The chicken was very tender and easily cut using my spoon. Served with rice on the side, this dish is sufficiently peppy to satisfy any spice head. It certainly warmed me up on a cold November night.
My friends described the Crispy String Beans ($10) as being stir-fried with crack. I can’t speak to that, but I can see why several of them ordered them as their entree. Battered and deep fried, the string beans are then stir-fried with fresh ground pepper and garlic sauce. The result is a sweet, brown, crunchy glob of goodness; order a plate for the table, they’re too good to pass up.
Though not photographed, the Thai Iced Tea ($3) — a mix of tea and coconut milk — got rave reviews. The imported bottles of Thai beer ($3), not so much. No complaints from our table about the food. Most of our plates were picked clean, save one person who opted for leftovers.
We arrived around 6:30 on a Friday night and save a few people chatting at the bar we were the only patrons, but by the end of our dinner it was starting to fill up. Pad Thai offers a full lunch menu as well. I’m not sure about portion sizes, but the lunch pricing is typically $2 less per entree (appetizers, salads, and soups remain the same). Service was good, though some of the staff are more knowledgeable about the menu than others.
This was my second trip to Pad Thai, the first being a year or so ago. I remember the Sweet and Sour ($11) chicken being delicious, “sauteed with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, pineapples, scallions, and bell peppers.” The thing I like is that the dishes are well executed, and more importantly, done so consistently. The next time I’m out in Annapolis I’d probably have difficulties deciding between the Pad Thai, Pad Woonsen, or Drunken Noodles.