Whenever I’m back in Illinois, I try to see as many friends as possible and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. This time it did. Somehow, we tricked Tekmet and his wife, FunHater and his GF, and Coach to go out for dinner. All the stars aligned and we booked it. FunHater decided we needed to go to this new Thai place near his house (which it turns out he’s gone to like 5 times since they’ve opened).
He of course couldn’t remember the name of the place, so I had to drive there a half hour early and then text people the location and the name of the place so everyone else could find it. Hilarious. The best thing was the marquis in front says “Catfish $9.95” and “Filet Mignon $11.95”. How Thai is that? I didn’t know what restaurant this was simply because they didn’t have any sort of signage. It had a printed tarp on the front with those stick-on letters that said “Thai Garden Restaurant”.
When I walked in, I could tell it was an old country western bar – which my parents told me used to be called The Pauper’s Den. My father used to go here for lunch during his working years and my mom said they had amazing hamburgers – which she generally doesn’t order anywhere. Too bad that place isn’t still around. There are still wagon wheels and super dark wood and wicker lights and HUGE beer coolers behind the bar. This place didn’t have even the slightest touch of Asian-ity to it. Hilarious.
When everyone showed up, we all scoured the menu and figured out what we wanted. Of course, they brought us out water, and like idiots, we all grabbed our glasses and chugged….Silvis water. If you haven’t heard about this apparent lapse in water testing technology, Silvis proudly announces they have the worst water in the country and you can see the evidence of this by hundreds of water heaters discarded on every street corner in the city. I don’t know how they haven’t fixed this, but they haven’t. It tastes terrible and if it does to your insides what it does to water heater and plumbing pipes, it CAN’T be legal. Anyway, continuing on…
The menu does have quite a few awesome looking things on it. I’m still really surprised by the marquis with all the white people food on it, because this place is clearly cooking Asian food. And because it’s a Thai place and they usually have them, I ordered Fresh rolls/Spring rolls. They’re my favorite and I like to compare them at as many places as possible. I also went with the “Chef’s Very Own Thai Pasta” – yes, that’s the name. Chicken with tomatoes, onions, bamboo shoots, chilies, Thai basil, and seasonings over egg noodles. Sounded pretty good to me!
While we were waiting for our food, this random guy comes up to Coach and asks the most hilarious intro question I think I’ve ever heard, “Were you at Rugrats about 10 years ago?” This guy remembered seeing Coach at the Rugrats movie when they showed the trailer for the (at the time) new Star Wars film. Yes, Coach is a nerd and paid for an entire movie just to see the SW trailer. So Coach recognizes him and says, “yes, and I saw you at Toys R Us afterwards buying toys, and then at the premier of the star wars film, and then at some sort of ‘club’…” Apparently, it was a gentlemen’s club since the guy was standing there with his kid talking to Coach. Oddly, the guy DID look like Judge Reinhold. Super nice guy, but this was a conversation only two nerds would ever have.
The appetizers came out and I think I got some other kind of roll, since these were fried crispy. They were slightly better than average – I have eaten these kinds of rolls before, but they were not what I was looking forward to. I did like them, but it still wasn’t what I ordered. They were flavorful and the dipping sauce that came with was fine, but it still wasn’t fresh and tasty like I had hoped for. (And apparently, I ate them and forgot to take a photo for the blog – my apologies.)
After a seriously long wait for them not being very busy, our food finally came out Also, the waitress gave Tekmet and I chopsticks, but no one else – clearly she could tell we were the most Asian at the table. The Chef’s Very Own Thai Pasta was just average. It had some sort of fish or oyster sauce in it, which made it sort of weird. The food itself was flavorful, but everything had this weird fishy taste to it, which was kind of a bummer. I’ll chalk it up to bad ordering, not bad cooking. FunHater’s eggplant chicken was better than mine, so I’d recommend that if you go there.
We had some of the most awesome conversations about the best subjects ever. I love these guys sooooo much and I wish I could go out to dinner with them every time I come into town. I will make more of a concerted effort based on the amount of hilarity that ensued at dinner. And as a bonus, I might have a new theme for 2010, thanks to FunHater! We will wait and see if anything more awesome comes up, but I doubt it will. It’s a total winner. Another hilarious thing we saw was the bathroom sign for the men’s room pointed to the emergency door. It was actually pointing towards the back of the restaurant, but it totally looked like you just headed out to the parking lot to pee. Classy place, this.
I’ll probably go back here just because I need to give it another try, but the first time wasn’t stellar. There are seriously good Thai places in the QCs (yes, I know that’s weird, but it’s true), so I’ll see when I can back to the Thai Garden Restaurant.
Top 5 things about Thai Garden
1. Eggplant Chicken
2. Really nice staff working (hot waitress and then after the meal, the owner gave us coupons to come back)
3. Really big menu – lots of stuff to choose from (including super white-people food specials, I guess)
4. Hanging with some of the best people in the world
5. Hearing Judge Reinhold call Coach out for being at Rugrats
Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved FunHater, Tekmet, and their various significant others – and also Thai food – she should have been here enjoying this with us all
2. Silvis water
3. Super long wait for food
4. Weird fish sauce in my food
5. Didn’t actually get what I ordered