415 Riversdale Road, Hawthorn (map)
Open 7 nights
The open kitchen, sharp fitout and zippy black-clad staff calling out in Thai makes Bangkok Terrace feel more Haymarket than Hawthorn. I went there with my family the other week, my expectations raised because I'd heard that that one of the owners cheffed at Sailors Thai in Sydney for several years. Maybe Melbourne now had a Sydney Thai restaurant to call its own?
The highlight of the meal was the mouth-watering steak Laos ($18.90): Wagyu rump cap marinated, grilled rare, sliced and served with salad and nam jim jaew (a dipping sauce made from ground rice, roasted chillies, palm sugar, tamarind essence and tomatoes).
Also excellent was the roasted duck salad ($18.90) with coriander, mint and eschallots. Beautifully crisp lacquered skin.
My take on the other dishes was less enthusiastic: the salt and pepper calamari ($10.90) was pretty good, but the betel leaves with prawns and roe ($3 each) lacked the chilli kick I was hoping for. Both the Panang curry ($17.90) and Pad See Ewe ($18.90), in sorry Melbourne Thai restaurant tradition, were too sweet. I wish they wouldn't play it so safe, but instead dial up the sour and the chilli on some of the dishes, à la Chin Chin or Middle Fish.
There's the usual bitching about poor service on Bangkok Terrace's Urbanspoon entry, but we found the staff to be friendly and efficient despite the clamour of the full restaurant. I'd happily go back to Bangkok Terrace (the siren song of the steak Laos is calling), but I'd steer clear of the mild and sweet dishes. Reader recommendations for best Thai in Melbourne warmly received...
I haven't been to either yet, but if you're in the neighbourhood you might also like to check out Firechief pizzeria and adjoining cafe Goldilocks, two of the six businesses Melbourne chef Paul Mathis is opening this year.