Give Yourself Thai Time

Thai Time on Church Street in Clinton
Ann Needle

By Ann Needle

With temperatures falling, and Oscar-contender movies cropping up, the dinner-and-a-movie crowd springs into action. And with a wintertime default on our national debt looming, don’t let a dysfunctional Congress spoil your fun: Head to Thai Time in Clinton, where your dinner choice tonight will likely leave something for tomorrow’s lunch.

Admittedly, I don’t hold the euphemisms when dishing up reviews—still, there aren’t enough to describe this luscious little find. Conveniently located around the corner from the Strand Theatre – one of Earth’s last remaining $5-ish cinemas— Thai Time’s off-the-charts cuisine makes the perfect pairing with the evening’s movie.

The Needles first ate here on a very cold evening last winter, one that cried for lumps of food to stay warm on the walk back to the car. Be advised that this chic, comfy restaurant — which urges, “Give yourself some time” – is not huge, so weekday lunches and weekend dinners are rumored to get busy.

It was a tough choice of dishes that first visit, having scouted the mostly glowing online reviews. But a few dishes cropped up constantly, so hubby Jeff and I ordered three of those. This is when our waitress offered that indulgent smile saved for beer pong contestants, followed by, “Have you eaten here before?” I assured this lovely woman (the staff is quite friendly) we knew how much we ordered.

The first contender was the Thai Time Special. This is described as, “Ground beef, chicken, or pork; stir-fried with spicy authentic basil sauce, fresh chilies, mushrooms, green peppers, and Thai basil leaves; served with steamed rice and Thai-style fried egg.” Quite frankly, I licked the plate clean. This was what therapists nowadays call a “bad choice.” Read closely, and you can see this is a protein bomb, filling me up until June. (FYI, I chose the ground pork.)

Jeff tucked into an order of Chicken Gra Prao, a Thai standard consisting of meat and vegetables, heavy on the basil. Though Jeff said he cannot recall if he liked it, I told him he did. He also made a “good decision” to bring some home.

Oh, and there were the Drunken Noodles, which reviewers tended to get all giddy about. In a contrarian mood that day, we instead ordered Fiery Pad Thai, an excellent choice, with much of this going home with us. I must say, as good as they were, we should have followed the crowd.

Fast Forward
Moving on to last Sunday, I took the 25-minute drive to pick up our take-out order. Of course, the lag time in this process was a real test for the food quality, one it passed with top grades; it was still warm when I arrived home.

The Drunken Noodles were worth the sizzling reviews. These were wide, floppy noodles fried up with chunky vegetables and ground chicken. It seemed the contrast in textures made this a standout.

There also was chicken in a Massaman Curry sauce, with tender meat and a sauce not

The Thai Time Special, piled high with protein and veggies.
Ann Needle

too heavy on the curry. With the Vegetables and tofu in a Peanut Sauce, the vegetables were al dente enough to promise that they would not be soggy by Monday’s lunch.

Clinging to my memories, I insisted on ordering the Thai Time Special once again, though I ideally should have selected another dish. (“You are SUCH a creature of habit,” Jeff lamented.) While take-out doesn’t imitate the artful presentation of the eat-in version, not even my dollar-store dishes could kill that meal.

A word to those who have, in the past, accused me of attempting to scorch their guts: Thai Time allows you to choose your spiciness level, from one (somewhat spicy/Meryl Streep) to three (extremely spicy/Lady Gaga). If you don’t request it, two seems to be the default.

And, a last word on parking. Looking back on our winter visit, Church Street didn’t have any spaces (unusual), so we parked a block away. Though I recollect a cold walk back, I think it was simply that we were too stuffed to move any faster.