Mmmmmmm, Thai. Coconut, lime, chilli, lemongrass. These are the flavours that keep drawing us back to Thai restaurants again and again. We arrived at Thai Sala Pavilion unannounced at 7:30 on a Friday night. It was busy and we thought we were out of luck, but we were shown to some seats further to the back. We sat down ready to attack the menu.
The King and Queen of Thailand adorn the walls, indicating that there are Thai's running the store and instilling hope that the food will be authentic and tasty. There are a few other bits and pieces decorating the restaurant which are reminiscent of the contents of the bag of a traveller returning from Phuket, but it seems they have not finished decking the place out to create a comfortable atmosphere. It is a bit loud in the large area at the front, and while it is quieter in the back it feels like you have been left in a hallway.
The staff quickly came with menus and smiles. They made us feel welcome and unforgotten in our little area, with Thai hospitality shining though as we have experienced in the past. We ordered chicken satays to share, Gang Panang, and Pahd Kaprao. The chicken satays were sublime, with tasty breast on the sticks and the richest and most delicious peanut sauce all over the chicken. Our only complaint was there wasn't enough sauce to embarrassingly lick off the plate.
The Gang Panang is a Thai style curry with a coconut base. It comes with lots of vegetables and the meat of your choice, and was eaten with the superb coconut rice. Of the two mains we had we preferred this because of the richness of the curry and the heroic flavours of kafir lime and basil. The Kaprao is a stir fry, again with plenty of vegetables and the meat of choice served up. Chilli and pepper dominate this dish and so it is quite warm. The coconut rice tempers the heat of the meal and provides a great counter balance in flavours. It should be noted that one serve of rice to share between the two of us was generous enough to last the meal.
Feeling full but eager to march on, we ordered a banana fritter to share for dessert. This is no normal banana fritter in soggy fish-and-chip batter - the batter is light and crisp, and is finished with a prickly coating of coconut. To round off the feast for the eyes it came served with a large scoop of ice cream and the plate was decorated with a flower painted with green and red toppings. The crunch and sweetness of the batter combined with the textures of the rough coconut and smooth banana are fantastic and a great way to top off a meal we could not fault.
The prices are reasonable with our bill, which included some non-alcoholic drinks, coming in at under $70. While some improvements could be made to the atmosphere as the restaurant settles into its new location, the service is great and food is the highlight. If you are new to Thai food give Pavilion a go, and if you are not shy about a Pad Thai then it is definitely worth visiting.
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