Restaurant >Tongue Thai’d
“Life is uncertain – eat dessert first,” the saying goes. In hindsight, we probably should’ve eaten dessert first after making the trek out to Winter Garden’s Thai Blossom. Given all the buzz around the highly lauded Siamese resto, we were expecting a superlative meal, worthy of the long drive west. What we got instead was a meal typical of the one you’d find at your neighborhood Thai joint – nothing particularly innovative, cutting-edge or, for that matter, fuss-worthy – with the notable exception of dessert. We could’ve downed multiple orders of the Thai donuts ($4.50), served with a thick sweet-cream sauce flecked with peanuts. Ditto the fried wonton-wrapped bananas, served with a dome of coconut ice cream ($4.50). If only the mains we sampled were as good, there’d be a reason for us to return.
By virtue of its position inside the 84-year-old Edgewater Hotel (like the Chef’s Table, a restaurant worth making the drive for), Thai Blossom’s space is as casual as it is inviting, though the industrial feel and Thai ornamentation create a slightly odd juxtaposition. Another oddity: When we asked our saronged server for her opinion choosing between the yellow curry ($9.95) and the costlier red snapper in curry sauce (market price), her smile turned to a wince and she deterred us from ordering the latter, which she said was served whole and would take 25 minutes to prepare. Taking her cue, we ordered the curry, though we were somewhat puzzled that she didn’t go for the upsell.
“Never order fish on a Monday,” goes another gastronomic saying, so it was just as well we got the curry. Sort of. It was a little too sweet, and the liberal use of fish or oyster sauce created a flavor imbalance in the thick coconut curry. We noticed the same heavy-handed use of the fish/oyster sauce in the tom yum gai ($3.95), though the spicy heat was tempered even when we asked for the soup “Thai hot.” The appetizer combo ($10.95) featured a hodgepodge: shrimp rolls crispy on the outside, but with uncooked layers further inside the wrapper; krab Rangoon with more cream cheese than faux crab; egg rolls that were just ordinary; chicken-filled potstickers that were the star of the platter; and perfectly crisped fried wontons.
The entrees were also hit-and-miss – the Thai basil with beef ($9.50) looked appealing, but the beef had no flavor and the welcome gust of basil that galvanizes the dish was nonexistent. If you have to look for the basil in the dish, there’s not enough basil in the dish. Pad thai ($9.50) was competently executed and perfectly pleasing, but the remarks of both my dining partners ultimately summed up our experience here – “I’ve had better.”
So if you happen to be a resident of Winter Garden, you finally have a place to dine on traditional and classic Thai dishes seven days a week. For the rest of you, before putting the pedal to the metal, wait for Thai Blossom’s kitchen to put some mettle into the petal.