Tuesday, March 1, 2011


One Spicy Night in Heaven, But This Heaven You Can Comeback to..

As I approached the restaurant during another frosty Syracuse spring night, I thought I saw a small snowflake fall upon my nose. I suddenly had my attention snapped back into control, as I could lightly smell a sweet yet tangy scent in the air…
As I opened the door for my date, the gentle wisp transformed into a swift kick in the back side. The production of that kick was partially thanks to the scent of pounds of spicy Thai chilies in the air. This restaurant, which I gladly placed under my meticulous review, had been called Lemongrass.
Lemongrass has been located at 238 West Jefferson Street, Syracuse, New York for thirteen years. For the previous four years the owners husband and wife Max and Pook Chutinthranond owned the then called, “Authentic Thai restaurant of Syracuse” in Mattydale, NY. Max stated, “Initially following the first few days after the move into downtown I was getting four or five phone calls an hour asking why we closed our doors. Many of our customers were worried that something had happened due to till the end of our residence in Mattydale how we had only high volume nights.” Since the start of the restaurant Max has been the head chef and Pook has managed and run the business side.
The Lemongrass is located in a district that is known to each and every Syracusan as Amory Square. Their friendly staff will answer the phone at 315-475-1111, and are available to take your take-out orders or reservations.
Lemongrass is classified as an AAA three-diamond white tablecloth Thai restaurant. This beautiful and quaint little restaurant is located on the bottom floor of a classic three-story brick building. The building is designed just like many of the classic downtown Syracuse buildings, built of brick and mortar. The view from the street creates the ambiance of a small little bistro. It feels like the restaurant would be a place that serves some sixty people on a busy day, with something like ten seats in the whole house.
On the contrary their large glass windows offer a nice view of the gentle snow flurries while you sit and enjoy your meal. Luckily for my date and I, there were three large green awnings preventing any stray flurries from falling on us as we approached the door. For those worried about parking, the restaurant is very convenient; the owner Max bought the buildings thirty-car parking lot located under the building’s basement.
Although it doesn’t show it from the outside the restaurant has three rooms, that can hold up to fifty, sixty, or ninety people. Overall the restaurant has seating for 250 people. I found that the tables were very evenly and spaciously spread apart. It was nice not to be almost sitting on the strangers’ lap next to me. The waiting area was slightly too small in my opinion. I felt as if I was hovering over the hostess as we waited the brief one to two minutes for of waitress to come seat us.
The atmosphere was extremely friendly and enjoyable. Right down from the aromas to the visuals, to the sweet sound of the background music. The background music was a nice balance of quite and loud. Most restaurants tend to have such loud music that you tend to feel drown out. Also due to the good balance the other guests were talking quite lower than usual, so the background chatter was very low too.
The décor consists of many traditional Thai icons and symbols. Decorations vary from pictures and figurines of elephants, garuda, orchids and stupa; to geckos. Lemongrass’ owner Max considers the beautiful cherry wood and hard maple bar as his prized jewel within the restaurant. The bar contains one of Central New York’s largest wine collections; along with top-level liquors and cordials, such as high priced cognacs to luxurious whiskeys.
Lunch clientele mainly consists of lawyers from the near by law offices and courthouse. Lemongrass’ clientele also includes a variety of businessmen and women from various downtown Syracuse businesses.
Dinnertime for Lemongrass is a whole different story. At dinnertime Lemongrass switches to the hot spot for foodies, yuppies, and drunken college students alike. Nationalities, classes, age groups, and genders vary a great deal. At Lemongrass you can see lower middle class couples sharing an important event, to the rich high-class lawyer on his or her regular dinner run.
The menu at Lemongrass itself is a beauty in its own right; it is a large deep maroon, with gold letter script on the cover. The actual pages are a white, with maroon ink. The menu contains a variety of proteins from duck to chicken and beef to venison. The menu is printed in large legible print. The menu contains sections from appetizers, sushi, soups, entrees and desserts. The choices also offered vary in heat or spice, my date was very appreciative of this factor. The price ranges from eight dollars to twenty-three dollars.
In comparison to other local restaurants Lemongrass is a steal for the experience that is sold alongside the food. The food is extremely elegant; Max Explained to me that he grew up in the industry. In Thailand’s fine dining restaurants of the 1970’s, growing up into his own chef, he was trained with the mindset of “TALL THAI!!!”
The dish that I sampled is a classic dish at any Thai restaurant; actually it’s the national dish of Thailand, Pad Thai. Lemongrass serves a very good rendition of it, a sweet, sour and tangy one at that. It is served as a heaping portion on sautéed rice noodles, egg, garlic chives, house seasoned tofu, mung-bean sprouts, chile tamarind sauce and ground peanuts. The ingredients at the restaurant are very fresh across the board. The dish varied in textures and balanced in flavors very well. The rice noodles were nice and soft and contrasted the firm scrambled eggs and peanuts along with the crisp garlic chives and mung-bean sprouts.
Service was terrific; the timing of the meal was quick. At the same time I didn’t feel to rushed as many cooks call spun through. The wait staff was very friendly, and personable. At the same time they did not hover like most tend to. Drink orders were quickly filled and enjoyed on the stronger side of life.
The Lemongrass has a web page for guests to go on and fill a reservation online. The page is www.lemongrasscny.com/enter.html . The hours of restaurant operation are Monday through Saturday 11:30am -2:30pm for lunch, Monday through Sat 5:00pm -11:00pm Dinner, Sunday 4:30pm -9:30pm dinner. Dress code includes dressy casual. All major credit cards are accepted.

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