This time of year, Thai restaurants provide us with happy memories. Some years ago, we traveled to Thailand during Christmas week and found it a fascinating time to visit eastern Asia; the incongruity of hearing “Deck the Halls” while looking for a little tuk-tuk taxi exemplified it. So when we walked into Addie's Thai House and heard the great Vince Guaraldi score for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” we couldn't help but smile.
Addie's is either a long drive (for many folks we know) or a neighborhood spot (for many others), but we've decided it's worth the trip. In a spot that used to house Thai Bu-ree, it's a little more luxurious than many of the locals, with white tablecloths (sometimes covered with white paper) and subdued lighting. We've seen family groups, clusters of friends gathering with holiday packages, and couples, all comfortably enjoying this once-exotic cuisine.
The menu goes considerably beyond the expected, giving a clue to the fun to come. For instance, the first thing we tasted was called miang kham. A cupped lettuce leaf is filled with roasted coconut, a little dried shrimp, a little pickled ginger, a bit of fresh lime pulp, the expected chili, red onions and peanuts. The combination is nothing short of incredible, whether or not it's topped with a little of the salty-sweet sauce. The dish is crunchy-chewy-crisp, as well as the traditional Thai salty-sweet-spicy-sour.
And then there was the dish merely described as “sweet potatoes.” We heard a fellow, obviously a regular, suggest that his tablemates try them, and we did, too. These are sweet potato fries with a difference. Dipped in what we suspect is a rice-flour batter, they're downright addictive, with or without the peanutty sauce served alongside. They'd be perfect with beer. Addie's fresh rolls are served hot, rather than at the cooler temperatures we associate with rice-paper rolls. The outside is almost like a tender crepe, the inside crunchy bean sprouts, cucumber, green onions, tofu and scrambled egg, all under a tart-sweet tamarind sauce. Stir-fried clams were nice and juicy alongside red and green peppers and green onion, but the sauce was way too salty, one of the few missteps we found.
Even the small bowl of soup serves two to three. (All the servings are generous, so plan on leftovers for lunch tomorrow.) Our gang jued woon sen, or silver noodle soup, was light and flavorful, a clear lemongrass-scented broth with shrimp, gently cooked, and ground chicken, along with carrots, onions and cilantro, over the vermicelli-thin clear noodles, another of the dishes we'd suggest for those just beginning their adventures in Thai cuisine.
Waterfall beef is listed as a house specialty, a well-deserved position. Beef, slightly smoky from its grilling, is dressed in a lime juice-garlic dressing and served with onions, cilantro and some toasted rice powder. The smokiness adds a good note to the dish, which is served like the room-temperature salads on many Thai menus, though it seems to be a main course. Seafood with eggplant brings shrimp, mussels, squid and fat sea scallops, all nicely cooked with peppers and onions in a slightly spicy sauce with some anise notes from Thai basil.
Chang mai noodles were a winner, too, starting off with egg noodles and topping them with a coconut-creamy yellow curry sauce that was gentle butpersistent, crisp fried garlic, slices of chicken and some crunchy strips of fried noodle to crown the bowl. And in a nod to the more familiar, we found the pad thai very fresh-tasting, wkith superior texture, and a good feeling of spice; the only possible quibble was a faint flavor of grease, but only if we paid close attention.
There's a wine, beer and cocktail list that offers more choices than many Asian restaurants in town, and service that is top-drawer
Addie's offers both coconut ice cream and coconut sorbet among desserts that are quite familiar, and we did a side-by-side. The sorbet is light in texture, and perhaps a shade less intense in its flavor than the ice cream, which was sweeter and had bits of coconut meat in it.
A note about spicing: Some, but not all, of the menu items have peppers to indicate spiciness. Their presence seems to indicate the hottest dishes; some without peppers do have modest to moderate heat. A chart indicates the possibility of cranking things up as much as anyone could possibly want. The heat, however, is on top of the existing spicing, meaning a “3” added to one dish may make it much hotter than a “3” in another. Happily, the friendly, excellent servers are delighted to guide newcomers through these intricacies and anything else on the menu that might be questioned. In Thailand, hospitality is a strong tradition, and you can certainly see it here.
13441 Olive Blvd, Chesterfield
Lunch Mon-Fri., Dinner nightly
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Fair