BEST THAI RESTAURANT - 2002
Sometimes, when you're not looking, a restaurant will go and hit its stride. And that's precisely what northern Thai specialists Chiang Mai Thai went and did last year. The appetizer list is full of enough comforts to be reassuring (try fresh spring rolls filled with savory curried beef tenderloin) and enough surprises to keep things interesting (spicy cashews fried with chile peppers and cilantro). Curries are newly harmonious. Pad thai is perfectly springy, well-stocked with peanuts and lime juice. Fish dishes are as light and piercingly clear as you could wish for (ginger-fried red snapper is particularly memorable). And service hums along like a finely tuned clock. Even the wine list stands out: so full of bargains, rarities, and good ideas it may induce squeals of glee. Kudos to owner Charles Lodge and his staff. Thanks to their hard work, Chiang Mai Thai has become the Thai restaurant we've always dreamed of.