Thai Grille – Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series
We’re on a bit of a noodle kick, but when they’re tasty is that such a big deal?
Before we get into this post, we wanted to encourage you to support our local restaurants through their takeout or delivery options over the coming weeks. We are in strange times and a lot of local businesses are going through a rough patch. The more we can help, the better, and let’s face it, this list would not be here if it weren’t for the local restaurants in Columbus. If you are able, we definitely urge you to do your part in continuing to help these organizations until the dine-in restrictions are lifted. Support Columbus Eats has a list of businesses, their hours, and how to order. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have (to the best of our ability) so feel free to reach out!
One of those restaurants is in Downtown Westerville, snuggled in among the tight side roads of a now sleepy college town. We were turned on to Thai Grille by one of our top testers @amanda_peterfy16 who works at the salon right across the street. It’s a smaller restaurant with seating for 20-30, but especially for takeout the staff was welcoming and we joked a bit as they finished prepping our order.
In our typically fast-paced world, Thai Grille takes a step back and puts a higher focus on food than speed. Their menu notes “We have a small kitchen and will cook your dishes to order. Your food may arrive one dish at a time. When the restaurant is busy please allow even more time for your food to arrive.” That in mind, let’s take a look at where we landed food-wise.
Let’s start with these fluffy lil’ guys, the Curry Puff appetizer. “Curry powder, potato & vegetable with sweet dipping sauce” these are potentially the best Curry Puffs we’ve had in Columbus. Packed extremely well, the pastry gives a tiny crunch while also being super flaky. The flavor combo is flawless and the thin dipping sauce is an excellent partner to the savory puff. The only bad part about this app is that the Lady of the Farm and I fought over the odd number (3) before realizing we could King Solomon the third puff and cut it in half. Unlike that story though neither of us was going to speak up to prevent the splitting. These are too good.
Thai Grille has 5 curries on the menu with Tofu, Beef, Shrimp, Salmon and Duck, with a range of Panang curry, Massaman curry, Red curry and Green curry. The Lady of the Farm opted for the Beef Curry, featuring grass fed beef, sweet potatoes and other vegetables. It’s a well-balanced curry and even after a short drive, the primary ingredients held up nicely. Soft but not soggy potatoes, and tender beef made for a great second meal, as the Lady of the Farm was only able to finish half on the first go. If you’re looking to spice it up, Green curry tends to be the spiciest of the bunch in most cases (unconfirmed here).
On to the main event, one of the spicier dishes on the menu, the Pad Kee Mao. “Wide rice noodles sauteed with sliced organic chicken, egg, veggies, chili and Thai Basil,” the Pad Kee Mao is an excitingly colorful dish. Now, one of the secrets I learned from the owner of a Thai restaurant a while back is that there are always levels of spiciness, even if it’s not explicitly stated on the menus of Thai restaurants. In many cases, he said, you can order something “Thai Spicy” and this will tell the cooks that you’re serious about it being extra spicy. This has worked at many restaurants, though some just call it “extra spicy.” This fits into our criteria for “broadly known levels,” so we ordered the Pad Kee Mao – Extra Spicy.
An initial whiff didn’t allow us to detect much, but as I had my back turned, the Lady of the Farm swiped a noodle from the plate. Slow, burning, regret. As she sat down, she quickly reached for her drink as the spices caught up with her, a sign that we might be on to something with Thai Grille.
The green of the basil, the yellow and orange of the eggs and vegetables and the red/brown color of the sauce make for a titillating tapestry of Thai tastiness. One bit in and my mouth warmed up. The housemade noodles are tender and the right amount of chewy. The flavor combos of the sauce, veggies, and noodles are about as perfect as they can be. As I was admiring the tastiness, the heat started to mount. I nodded at the Lady of the Farm who was still panicking from her initial bite and noted that “yes, this dish does warrant that reaction from a lesser spice lord.” The heat is addictive and I quickly plowed through half of the dish, my nose starting to run a bit. As I finished the plate, I plopped the rest of the takeout container down and devoured the rest. Spicy-wise this dish is interesting because it doesn’t linger too long on your lips, but hangs out in the roof and sides of your mouth. The mark of a good level of spiciness in a Thai dish is when I don’t end up dousing our sriracha-replacement Serrano Garlic sauce on it. Satisfied with the tastiness and heat, I reflected.
I’ve always enjoyed basil and spiciness, so this is definitely in the Top 10 of spicy/tasty dishes in Columbus, but how does it compare in spiciness? Ordering at the Extra Spicy level could prove to have variable results, so this could be a bit of a misleading rating, but we’re going to go out on a limb and place the Pad Kee Mao at #18 on our list, just above Wing Snob’s Hot AF sauce and just below the Quaker Steak and Lube Triple Atomic Wings. With excellent noodles and excellent heat, we’re excited to get another dish into the Top 20.
As of this posting, Thai Grille is still open for carryout and can be found at 15 E College Ave Westerville, Ohio 43081.
Look below for more in our spiciest dish in Columbus series and hit us up if you have any suggestions that are not already on our list!
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