Eating update. Garden Cafe, the Taiwanese restaurant in the little strip mall at 37th and Payne is gone. That’s the bad news. But a wonderful Thai place opened in the same spot two weeks ago, and after my first meal there last night I have to say this is very good news indeed.
It’s called Map of Thailand . The remodeled space is lovely- handpainted images of branches and birds on white walls, modern lighting, and a decorative half wall hiding the kitchen door. Lined up along the top are big glass jars filled with signature drinks- lemongrass tea, non-alcoholic red and white sangria. Upscale touches (without the accompanying prices) include cloth linens, fresh flowers on every table, and attractive contemporary looking dinnerware. It’s BYOB and I was pleasantly surprised when our server asked if we preferred white or red wine glasses.
But it’s the expertly prepared food that will ultimately earn this spot a devoted following. Our foursome ordered seven dishes- two appetizers, soup, and four entrees- for sharing and each one prompted much oohing and aahing from all. Here’s the play list with comments: Golden Bags- stuffed tofu pouches tied with a bit of seawood and fried to a perfect, greaseless crispness; Thai spring rolls- an unusual filling made with carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage and taro which added a sweet note; Seafood coconut soup, creamy, rich with a brightness from kaffir lime leaf, lemon grass and galanga; spicy basil fried rice with ground chicken; lard nar- wide rice noodles, vegetables, chicken and shrimp in a really intriguing sauce; an outstanding execution of chili duck- half a boneless bird roasted, fried, glazed with spices; and a fine and out of the ordinary Massaman curry featuring roasted peanuts, sweet potatoes and chick peas.
There were no leftovers to take home. And I’m already thinking about what I want to try next time. Thanks to my friends, eating adventurers and dining companions extraordinaire Jb and Kristina, for bringing this great new place to my attention.
3710 Payne Avenue, Cleveland. 216-361-222o