March 1, 2010

Blue Elephant - 3 Turkeys

Cincinnati has become home to yet another "much needed" Thai restaurant.  Well, to be fair Blue Elephant isn't your normal Thai also has the gull to serve Italian pasta dishes alongside sushi and Thai plates.  The thought of having meatballs & spaghetti after my appetizer of sushi thoroughly discouraged my taste buds.

I visited Blue Elephant the other night with two of my good friends.  The moment we sat down and took one look at the Italian portion of the menu we all agreed in unison we would steer clear of that menu.  Sorry for those of you that were looking to this review for insight as to if the Italian food was good.  But the moment you walk into the restaurant you are greeted with the familiar smells of Thai food along with the decor that seems prevalent in todays mainstream Thai/Sushi establishments.  Bare wooden tables sat along one stone wall while on the other side they bordered a brightly painted red wall with ornate pictures of gold elephants.  Does this scream Thai or Italian to you?  My senses were begging for some curry at this point.  The sushi bar is composed of 4 chairs - a sad excuse for a "sushi bar".  Our table's centerpiece (if you would call it that) was a small, battery powered fake tea light candle.  It looked like the battery was dying b/c the little light could barely stay on.

We opted to go for three maki rolls to start with - the Salmon Tempura Maki, the Tuna Avocado and I asked them to make my favorite: The Alligator.  When asked if that was possible, the waitress simply stated she can do everything.  I like that kind of attitude - more people in the service industry should respond like that.   The rolls were typical aside from the Alligator.  Wild Ginger still makes the best one (for those that didn't read my review on Kyoto, the Alligator is Cucumber with Shrimp Tempura on the inside and Eel with Avocado on the outside topped with eel sauce and lots and lots of tempura "crunch" flakes).  The Blue Elephant version lacked a sufficient amount of eel sauce to accent the fish well.

As for the entrees, be prepared to get a few snickers when you opt for the lowest spice level.  The waitress did give my fellow diners a few looks when they ordered their entrees at Level 1.  I took the risk and ordered the 3 (the hottest the offer) for my Red Curry dish.  While it was very spicy it didn't knock me out.  The curry though was delicious - the right levels of spice with coconut milk and a hearty helping of chicken and veggies.

 One of my friends got the Pad See Ew with Tofu.  When it came out you couldn't even see any of hte noodles there were so many chunks of Tofu.  Well partly because of the sheer amount of Tofu but also because they really skimped on the noodles and they were shorter and thicker than I am normal used to. I love the Pad See Ew noodles so I was very disappointed.  Overall, this dish would not get me to come back - the dish tip toed the bland line and just tumbled on over.

My other dining cohort got the Basil Noodle dish with Chicken.  While the flavor wasn't very strong the basil really did stand out.  The noodles resembled those that are typically used in Pad Thai dishes.  This dish too had an enormous helping of crisp, well cooked veggies.

The restaurant is located right off Wasson just a block from Green Papaya and less than a mile from Wild Ginger.  If Wild Ginger has a long wait give Blue Elephant a try otherwise I might be inclined to stick with Wild Ginger as my go to Thai restaurant especially if you like Pad See Ew.  Well, on second thought I may be re-visiting Blue Elephant for some more of that Red Curry - it's making me salivate just thinking about it.

Word of Caution: parking is limited so keep an eye out for spots on the street and side streets as you pull up.

Score: 33 points
Ambiance (3), Tastiness of Dishes (6), Menu (3), Drink Selection (3), Cost (7), Accessibility (3), Service (5), Location (3)

Blue Elephant on Urbanspoon

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