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More Birmingham eats

On my last night in Birmingham, AL, I ventured out into the Five Points area again (right outside my meeting space and hotel) and tried some Thai food although I was pretty skeptical that it would be any good. It’s hard not to be skeptical when you’re the only Thai person eating in the Thai restaurant. There also weren’t any Thai servers. That can say alot about a restaurant as well.

As you can see, I’m the type to trust mostly in those restaurants that are populated by the people who are experts in that type of food; people who ACTUALLY eat the cuisine everyday at their own dinner tables. My theory is that most all other restaurants (that do not serve the people who eat the cuisine on a daily basis) have altered the taste of their authentic, traditional foods by developing a more Westernized and bland menu of dishes to meet the diverse needs of those other customers.

At any rate, we didn’t have too many options for dinner so we stuck it out at Surin Thai Restaurant. Soon, I found the above was true for this particular Thai restaurant: they had altered the taste of their food to meet the taste of their usual customers: Caucasiansand other Westerners in the Birmingham area.

The springroll appetizer (shredded cabbage and carrot wrapped with spring roll wrappers and drief fried) was good. There was nothing altered about that because you can’t really Westernize springrolls; it’s good as is.

For my entree, I ordered the “spicy beef noodle” dish from the menu; at other Thai restaurants, this dish is also known as a pad kee mao or drunken noodle dish. When the food arrived, I noticed right away that the thick rice noodles weren’t freshly made (as in many Thai kitchens I’m familiar with) but rather the restaurant boiled up some dried thick rice noodles. The noodles weren’t bad. I really don’t discriminate much against any noodles (freshly made or not) because I’m a noodles girl (I’d rather eat noodles than rice any day of the week). The sauce for the noodle dish was a little different from your usual drunken noodle spicy basil sauce. There wasn’t alot of basil (it was hard to taste the basil actually) and the sauce was on the sweet side.

I guess you can say I compare foods and dishes to the most authentic version that I’d experienced in the past. I tend to prefer the authentic versions of ethnic foods, although every now and then I do appreciate a twist on the traditional dishes especially when they’re done just right. Again, this spicy beef noodle dish was just okay in comparison to other pad kee mao dishes I’ve had.

On the other end of the table, my partner in eating (none other than my hubby) ordered a numtok dish (grilled beef, red onion, lettuce, with a lime juice and hot pepper dressing) and it was not good at all. It lacked the salty, spicy, fishy, sour taste that is typical of numtok dishes. Very bland in comparison, I would say.

One last thing I’ll add to this review is that the service was unbelievably inflexible. My coworker wanted to order the soft shell crabs with a different sauce on the side and the waitstaff flat-out said no, stating that they just couldn’t accommodate special orders for everyone. So much for the Southern hospitality we all were getting accustomed to 🙂

Overall, this restaurant was a disappointment but I guess you can say it lived up to my not very high expectations. The rating I’d give this restaurant is a 2 out of 5. Ambiance, service and food altogether were alittle below average, in my opinion.

Before I left Birmingham, I had to sample pancakes from the Original Pancake House. I tried the strawberry pancakes while my husband tried the crepes. I thought the pancakes were pretty good although there was nothing spectacular or extraordinary about them. Same feedback from my husband about the crepes. At 8am in the morning, the diner was busy and popular with the local business people and medical staff from nearby office buildings. It was a great place to people watch. The service was friendly and quick. We were in and out in less than an hour; I’d probably guess 45 minutes. Afterwards, we went to the Starbucks next door for some not-so-watered-down coffee. Here are some pictures at the Originial Pancake House.

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