Last year, at an event, I met a lovely couple at the bar. Like you do. They had recognized me as a Bitch Who Brunches from a photo, which is happening with frightening frequency these days, much to my horror.
We got to talking. One of the young men runs Longview Gallery, the classy gallery-slash-event-space in Shaw. The other, he runs a little restaurant in Shaw called Beau Thai. Quite the Shaw power duo, I’d say.
Since that meeting, and upon their urging, I had been meaning to brunch at their little Thai spot, which is conveniently within walking distance of my new home. This past Sunday, I finally had the chance.
So I convened my Bitches and together we were seated at a big table in the adorable purple restaurant, which is decorated unlike any other Thai restaurant I have ever been in.
We were pleased with the delightful aesthetic—it’s made to look very sleek and modern, with a gorgeous color scheme complemented by black and white photographs on the wall, shiny white tabletops and modern glass chandeliers hanging above the bar.
However, once we were finished looking around and finally got started looking at the menus, we realized the table had food stains and, worse than that, there was a bug crawling across one of our menus.
The staff was friendly—there were no other guests in the restaurant until the tail end of two hours we were dining there. So the waitress was quick to fill our orders. At brunch, you can order from the brunch menu (Thai dishes with a brunch flair) or the main, larger menu. It’s nice to have those options.
I got the Thai iced coffee, as we were seated in the sunlight and I was rather warm. It was in a tall glass and very pretty when it arrived—the condensed milk had not been mixed in properly, giving it a multi-colored effect. The coffee drink was extremely sweet, though; too sweet, in fact. I asked for my second glass to be sans sugar, but they couldn’t do it, they said.
The rest of the brunch followed suit. Everything was insanely sweet. I ordered a trio of the brunch items: banana spring rolls, Thai donuts, and Thai pancakes. It was like eating dessert; everything came with either sweet, sticky honey or even sweeter condensed milk. And it was all fried. I felt rather unhealthy.
My wallet felt healthy, however, as each of these dishes were only $5. The Thai pancakes were my favorite of the trio. They are similar to a traditional American pancakes but made with a layer of egg. They were fluffy and delightfully unusual for brunch, but tasted disappointingly plain.
The Thai donuts were not donuts at all, but rather hard little pastries with no filling or flavor. The banana spring rolls were better. They had some cinnamon inside and were not as dried out as the donuts. I’ve decided that bananas are, in fact, one of the best fillings for spring rolls.
The quiche my mom ordered was very flavorful and nice, made with Thai sausage, onion, fresh ginger, Thai chilies, and coconut milk. But it was too small for the price and the side salad was nothing, barely a bite or two.
The omelet was the only winner on the brunch menu. A thick, fluffy omelet filled with tilapia, tomato, and onion. It was sweet and sour in flavor and the best brunch dish on the table. But again, the side salad was rather pathetic.
The Green Mango Salad was gorgeous. It was served with spicy lime dressing and garnished with toasted coconut. Very unique, but not very big. $8 for a dollop of mango salad?
The crispy tofu, from the main menu, was also very pretty. It was sticks of tofu wrapped in sesame seeds and served with sweet and sour sauce. Unfortunately, there was no flavor. Even the sauce it came with was meh.
We had a few soups at the table, including the ginger and soy custard and the tom yom. Again, very pretty, but also small and bland. When the server delivered one of the soups she spilled some on a chair (the Bitch was in the bathroom) and refused to refill what she’d spilled. The dish was small, and every drop of soup was wanted. We were slightly peeved.
Baby Bitch had the drunken noodles, off the main menu. It was average compared to other drunken noodles she’d had in the city, but a standard noodle dish is just that—a standard noodle dish. It’s good she went for the safe option, as the rest of us were mostly disappointed.
The Bitches say: C-. There’s potential, and Lord knows I’m rooting for restaurants in my ‘hood, but it’s rough around the edges and the dishes are teeny tiny and bland.
Beau Thai Restaurant
1700 New Jersey Ave NW
Beau Thai serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.