Last week, I convinced my wife that she deserved a treat for carrying our first child for the past five months. On the way home from errands, we stopped in Carytown and ventured into Cajun Bangkok, which replaced the Thai Curry House, which replaced Chopstix. I told Karen, “you and the little boy in your belly should order whatever you like” (big talk from a cheap-skate like me). The subtitle of the restaurant is “spicy cuisine,” and that’s one of our favorite flavors, despite the queasiness associated with pregnancy. (it’s a boy, by the way)
With the unveiling of Cajun Bangkok, Carytown has gone from four Thai places down to three and a half – a babystep toward moderation. The menu seemed to show appetizers and entrees that pulled from both
We started with the calamari, which was described as being “southern fried” or something that conjured up a cajun influence. However, what we received were perfectly lightly breaded ringlets (not unlike Mom
Next came Karen’s bowl of she-crab soup, which was also described with some yee-haw down home verbiage. The soup, however, was stark white opaque and refined. My wife’s spoon brought up loads of crab meat and an enormous smile spread across my wife’s face. The soup was seasoned with a touch of red curry and plenty of sweet coconut milk. Holy sh*t, was this stuff good! Again, more fighting over the last drops. Folks, go to Cajun Bangkok and order this soup.
Across the room, a couple tables had ordered an exotic looking coconut appetizer that was the day’s special. There were 8-10 ingredients spread out on a platter and you had to wrap them all up in a collard green leaf and eat it like a mini-wrap. They seemed happy and I felt pretty jealous as I got acquainted with my entree, which didn’t measure up to the previous two items.
My order was a blackened tuna steak, topped with crawfish ettoufee, and served over rice. What came was a big chewy piece of overcooked fish. There were specks of cajun seasoning, but it wasn’t blackened or even seared – broiled maybe. All of the pink was gone from the center and most of the juice as well. It gets worse. I think they overcooked the fish because it wasn’t fresh. It tasted fishier than any tuna I’d ever eaten before. “Are you sure you want to finish that?” asked Karen after trying a tiny bite. I resolved to take my chances and see what happened. The rice was buttery and delicious and the ettoufee wasn’t bad either, but I felt pretty deflated. Going from ecstasy to revulsion so quickly made my head spin.
Meanwhile, Karen sat in front of a boring iceberg lettuce salad whose pecan vinegrette added only the flavor of sour burnt nuts – a half-hearted attempt to keep in line with the theme of the restaurant. It needed sweetness and spice – maybe they should have gone for a Thai curry prailene vinegrette or something like that. To her credit, Karen knew she wasn’t very hungry (one of the reasons that I said, “order anything”) and so she hadn’t placed much stock in the salad. Instead, both of us were happy to have discovered the two dishes we’d already gone ga ga over.
At the time of this writing, I’m not too excited to be writing another mixed review. Is it realistic to fall for the idea behind a restaurant (or the image I project on it) and expect it to change over time to suit me? Viva
Don’t let me forget that, yall.
Ps: I did not get sick from the fish. In fact, we went to Ben and Jerry’s where Karen’s appetite picked up again. She got a Hot Float (ice cream in steamed milk) that was served up by a confused teenager who hadn’t quite figured out how to sell or prepare his store’s latest featured item. But, I got to be the gracious big spender, which is sometimes worth more than tasty vittles.
update: I went back and things went much smoother. Check it out.