Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

September 24, 2009

Sandusky Siam

4 pm - 11 pm
open seasonally (May - October)
closed when Cedar Point is closed for the winter.

Thai crispy duck with red curry

I have been spending about 1/10 of my time up in Northern Ohio because I work up in Sandusky, OH periodically, and I have some very sick relatives in Cleveland, OH. Just because I have to work, or attend to relative, doesn't mean eating decent food goes out the window. I have become a regular at Zinc Brasserie because it is one of the best restaurants in Sandusky, and I am going to become a regular at Siam Orchid because it is one of the best Thai places in Sandusky.

I heard about Siam Orchid from a waiter at Zinc Brasserie. I was sitting there asking if there were any good Asian food in Sandusky. Because Sandusky is a summer vacation destination, there are the trapping of bad chain restaurants and a few mediocre Chinese buffets. The chains and buffets seem to appeal to vacationing families because it is economical to feed a family when kids eat at a discount and sometimes free. Since I am not vacationing while in Northern Ohio, I am not interested in the chains or buffets. The waiter suggested I try Siam Orchid and raved about the crispy duck with curry sauce, he said it was his favorite. His relatives own a Chinese sit-down restaurant in the old part of Sandusky (not on the Rt 250 strip) and he did not necessarily recommend that place to me because it is an Americanized Chinese restaurant. He said there is no good Chinese food in Sandusky, and I would have to go to Cleveland for that. He rattled off a couple places to go in Cleveland, how to get there from I-90, and one Thai place in Sandusky.

He suggested I try Siam Orchid restaurant in Sandusky, and try try the crispy duck with curry sauce. He told me that this Siam Orchid is owned by people who came from Thailand, and relocated to Strongville, a suburb of Cleveland. In Strongville they have a Thai restaurant called Sweet Mango, and they work throughout the year. The family likes to be in the Sandusky area for the summer, so they wanted to open a restaurant in Sandusky during the summer. They opened Siam Orchid. They found this seeming strange restaurant location in the South Shore Inn, a seasonal motel near Cedar Point. The Thai family also wanted to capture some of the Cedar Point vacationing money, so they are open from 4 pm - 11 pm for dinner in hopes to feed hungry vacationers as they go to their motel rooms after a full day at the amusement park.

carrot decorative cups

This restaurant being open so late is great for me. There are days that I work late, and just can't make it out for dinner until 9 pm. There are late night dining options with fresh veggies in Sandusky. There are bars and bar food, there are drive-throughs, and that is about it. It is a slice of heaven to have Saim Orchid available for dinner after 9 pm.

So, I have been to Siam Orchid twice, and there seems to be a lot of only locals eating here, and not really the vacationing crowd. I got chicken satay (chicken on a stick) served with two dipping sauces: sweet and sour and peanut. There were four skewers to the plate, and we all really enjoyed the chicken with the sauces. I got crispy duck with red curry over fresh veggies (as recommended) and that was another big hit at the table. The dish is 1/2 duck that was deboned over a bed of fresh sauteed veggies and curry of choice. I personally like red curry, so that is what I got, and it is not very spicy hot, so I can taste the flavors of the curry spices, not just face burning heat. The duck here was slightly over cooked, but I forgive that because it was better than anything I can make, and better than what I can get here in Nashville. The duck was made to have crispy skin with a thin layer of duck fat. The one thing that Thai and Chinese food have in common is understanding the quality of texture and the taste of fat in food, as well as sweet, salt, bitter, sour and umami. The right amount of duck fat is revered in Chinese cooking, and this Thai duck curry dish I had seemed to capitalize on the right amount of duck fat too. Like in Chinese Peking duck, or Cantonese roasted duck, this duck had a nice crispy textured skin which I like. I have attempted to make crispy Cantonese roasted duck a few times, fanning, hanging, pin sticking, and roasting duck, and I have only once made it correctly with buttery meat, a nice thin layer of fat remaining, and crispy orangy brown skin. I stopped attempting after thant because I wanted to end on a high note. Also, it is a multi-day process to do it right, and I just think that it is better just to buy it out and save myself some time.

Anyway, back to dinner, another got pad thai, and the other got a seafood basil stir fry. All dishes came with a side of rice. We were all happy with this meal. The Thai iced tea was strong and refreshing. I only took a sip of it because I just can't have too much caffiene at night (it keeps me up), but my pal who drinks caffiene all night and day enjoyed his tasty iced tea. There is a small list of beer and wine, nothing to right home about, but it isn't necessarily common to have alcoholic beverages at East Asian restaurants. On a late summer evening, a light beer was refreshing, and helped cool some of the fiery spice of Thai hot food.

Go give Siam Orchid a chance. It is the best Thai food you will get in Sandusky. Yes, there is at least one other "Thai" place in Sandusky, and it is not that good. Siam Orchid is a comfortable restaurant, the owners are nice, and they have crispy duck. What more would I want?

Siam Orchid on Urbanspoon

September 8, 2009


the sunset

Allium is the onion genus. This restaurant is named after the onion. On every dinner plate comes a stalk of scallion as a garnish. I appreciate the kitch of it, but next time, I will try to remember to tell them to leave off the decoration, and not waste the scallion on me. I just don't know what to do with the stalk of scallion, do I put it on the what table cloth, do leave it on the edge of the plate, do I put it on the small bread plate to take up valuable bread plate real estate, do I eat it? I am certainly not taking bites of a stalk of onion because I do not enjoy that blast sensation. The table cloth seems like a bad idea, and I would not like someone to do that to my table cloth. The bread plate is already taken up by bread and a knife. I guess the edge of the plate, but I would end up fussing with the stalk of scallion. The scallion cannot go on the forward edge because my fork hand and arm and my knife hand and arm need to have that area clear. Half of the back edge of the plate is needed to rest my knife when I am not using it. There is only one small part of the plate edge up on and to the left that this garnish can reside. As I said, I fuss with the scallion, pushing it close to the edge as possible without sending it off onto the table cloth, but I keep pulling it further onto the plate because I get nervous that it is going to fall of the plate, but the scalliion then becomes too close to my food I want to eat, and I don't want to eat the scallion. I just need to remember to ask the waiter to not garnish my plate because it makes me focus on the scallion rather than the food and wine.

the bar

We went to Allium for Matt's birthday. We like Germantown Cafe, the big sibling of Allium, and we thought we try Allium. I made the reservation on OpenTable, commented that it was Matt's birthday, so the manager gave us a perfect seat for two next to the window that overlooks downtown. We watched the sunset over our fair city. As we watched the sunset, our fabulous red head waiter told us the sunset looked great out the front door of Allium, and suggested we take a photo. I did take his suggestion and took a photo, and you can see how beautiful it was. The price point at Allium, like at Germantown, isn't that expensive for what you get. Most entrees are less than $20, and they come with a starter salad, which is less than most entrees at Red Lobster, and Red Lobster charges an extra $1 or more for a sad iceburg lettuce side salad.

For the birthday dinner, Matt got a newish menu item, it was steak marinated in soy sauce, and I started with a basket of house made chips with a mustard dip, and I got scallops in a parm cream sauce. The chips were good. I would like to have a thinner shave of the potato chip, but I am guessing they have thick chips to stand up to the cream sauce, as chips are served with the scallops in cream sauces as a side. Just preference, I did not care for the honey mustard dip that came with the chips, I would have rather had an aoli or Belgian herb tartare sauce. The steak was mistakenly soaked in La Choy soy sauce (aka liquid salt), a soy with no depth except salt. If it were me, I would have used a real Chinese soy sauce that has hints of earthiness, caramelized sweetness, pungency, and some salt. The salt was distracting and took away from a good steak. The scallops were in cream, the cream was good, I love cream and milk fat, so I was pretty happy with that. We finished off with a pot de creme which was deceptively light and chocolatey.

duck breast (different visit)

After we were done with Matt's birthday dinner, extra chips boxed up to take home, Chris Lowry stops by the table and asked us how everything was. We told him about the salty steak, and we liked the space a lot, and even better than Germantown. Chris took time to figure out what was wrong with steak and he told us about the La Choy soy sauce mistake. We told Chris that the view is just really nice from Allium, and I like the space better than Germantown. Then Chris looked at me and said, "I know you!" and then something about the blog post I did about Germantown during the 2008 Nashville Originals Restaurant Week. I made some remark about the slacker who was working our table at Germantown and how unusual that is. Ever other time, we had different people working there, and they were spot on. This time around, I forgot to tell Chris that, on top of what I listed in the blog post, the kid never refilled our water, never came back to ask up if we wanted more wine, which of course cuts into the bottom line at any restaurant. Two more glasses of wine at $10/glass is $20 and that could have been another $4 in tip. The kid did not do it, he lost 2 drink profits for Germantonwn and he lost out on a bigger tip. Move the drinks and make more profit, and the slacker didn't do it. Chris was a bit defensive because of my Germantown blog post, but he really shouldn't be. Germantown is really a well oiled machine for the most part, except for that one exception of one person who wasn't working for the best interest of Germatown Cafe. At anyrate, at Allium, we had the red head dude who was the complete opposite of a slacker. Red was so knowledgeable about the Allium all French wine list, recommended pairings for us, and was sure to make sure we had all the wine we wanted with our meal.

All in all Allium is a beautiful restaurant, and I voted for it to be the Best New Restaurant 2009 in the Nashville Scene Best of Nashville Reader's Poll. The price point is equal to and sometimes less than all those chains. There are quite a few reasonable wine by the glass as well. The red head really provided some of the best service in this town, and he seemed to really enjoy telling us about the menu and wine available to us at Allium. Red really seemed to have a zest and understanding of an overall great dining experience. I would go back again, and maybe sit at the beautiful bar, and take in another lovely sunset.

Allium on Urbanspoon