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Chao Phraya and Philinos

  • 29th Mar, 2006 at 11:04 PM

In the past week, there have been two farewell parties at NITI. This is sad because I really enjoyed working with Peter and Allison. It's a little sad that Peter isn't here any more, and a little sad that Allison won't be around for much longer. But every cloud has a silver lining.

Which is why I can write two new restaurant reviews.

We were seated at the back of Chao Phraya, a Thai restaurant that's fairly close to my place. We've been put at a strange L-shaped table, enclosed on three sides by bright red walls and fancy oil paintings. We had to straighten one of them, as it was quite crooked.

A group of us, sitting at one leg of the table, decided to pool our resources and share some dishes. I find that at Asian restaurants, this is always the optimal way to eat. You get little samples of everything, making the dining experience that much more exciting.

We started with a mango salad and dumplings in peanut satay. The dumplings were savoury, which matched well with the sweet peanut sauce. The salad was refreshingly spicy, and piqued our appetites. For mains, we ordered duck in red curry, chicken stir-fried with aubergine, frog-legs stir-fried with chiles, and a mixed seafood platter. All of this came on a variety of plates and platters, and looked as good as they tasted. I abstained from puddings, but the wise chose the fried bananas à la mode.

It's a very upscale restaurant, with a fancy decor and attentive wait-staff. By the time we left, the place was quite packed with people waiting for tables up front. So it seems that the high prices don't scare off the customers. It's certainly the best Thai food I've eaten in Montréal.

I've actually gone to Philinos twice now. I was organising the second party, you see, and one has to vet the food beforehand. So I took gorbash_dragon on a dining adventure, all while we pretended to be food critics.

We split spanakopita which were flakey, rich, and golden. I tucked into a plate of kalamarakia tiganita which were tender and crisp. There was a salt shaker on the table, which was necessary because the squid lacked seasoning.

For mains, I had a lamb moussaka while Gorbash ate chicken souvlaki. My dish was firm and well cooked. Her souvlaki was grilled well, but still tender. And the tsatsiki was quite tasty. I was pleased with our meal, so I put down a reservation for our party.

Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

When I returned, I shared a starter of skordalia, which was bursting with garlic and good olive oil. This did not prepare me for what I was to do. We ordered a seafood platter, to share between two of us. What first arrived was a small plate of grilled octopus with capers and pickled chiles. Seeing the look of disappointment on our faces, the waiter reassured us that we would not leave hungry. "This is a Greek restaurant," he exclaimed.

The octopus was some of the best I have ever eaten. Next came a huge platter which was overflowing with squid and shrimps and mussels. We worked our way through the squid, deep-fried wonderfully as before. Then the massive shrimps which were grilled lightly to heighten their sweetness. Then the mussels! We ate and ate and ate until they were all gone. Their flesh was so sweet that I reached for the breadbasket and started dunking bread into the liquor.

It was about this time when our waiter came up and expressed joy at our empty dishes. "I don't care what nationality you are," he cried, "you ate everything and now you're dunking your bread. You are truly European." I had never been so happy nor so stuffed in one sitting before.

I had to get up very slowly. But I shook hands with the cooks before I left.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
30th Mar, 2006 04:13 (UTC)
Just because I have thick glasses doesn't mean I'm blind. You can see when chicken's done right, you know. :)
(Deleted comment)
30th Mar, 2006 18:59 (UTC)
Si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi.
It was never part of Europe, I'm afraid.
30th Mar, 2006 19:13 (UTC)
Wow, you thought the Thai food was that good? Neither Melissa nor I thought it was particularly thrilling... definitely good, but not much better than other places I'd been to. But perhaps it was just the vegetarian food... although Melissa did have shrimp.
30th Mar, 2006 19:19 (UTC)
I found the food to be very good for Montréal Thai. I've had far better in Ottawa and Toronto.

My sample size for Montréal restaurants is rather small, though. Which other places have you gone to?
(Deleted comment)
30th Mar, 2006 21:34 (UTC)
Well the dishes I had were better than good and less than outstanding. Thai cuisine concentrates a lot on fresh ingredients, and late March is a terrible time for it.

We shall see what they are like at the height of summer, hmm?
1st Apr, 2006 14:16 (UTC)
Now I'm hungry for Thai.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )