Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Munch Goes to Siam Restaurant

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Munch Goes to Siam Restaurant

Article excerpt

After the departure of Sukhothai and before the arrival of Nicky's Thai Kitchen, Downtown lunchtime dining entered an epoch I commonly refer to as the Dark Ages.

The nearest Thai restaurant was Nicky's on the North Side, a wide murky river away and far too much of a hike for lunchtime. Sure, there were reams of other restaurant openings that offered delicious lunchtime offerings. But when you crave Thai food -- its perfect balances of spicy, salty, sweet and sour; the heavenly flavors of kaffir lime, coconut and lemongrass -- nothing else will satisfy, not even a succulent sandwich and buttery pastry from Bluebird Kitchen, or one of those 10-pound burrito bowls from Chipotle.

Thai food is strangely addictive in that way, and lucky for Pittsburghers, Thai restaurants are becoming more ubiquitous. But despite a robust lunchtime crowd, Downtown still has fewer Thai restaurants than Squirrel Hill.

The number of Thai joints Downtown recently doubled -- to two -- with the opening of Siam Restaurant in a space previously occupied by Sukhothai. Sukhothai was a standby favorite that got high marks for authenticity from a Thailand-born friend. It was a tragedy when it closed.

Siam is tucked away on First Avenue, far away from the raucous lunchtime crowds at Market Square. Situated on a rare quiet street behind the Art Institute, it offers an oasis of serenity in a part of the city where it sometimes feel like you can get trampled by a mob of hungry middle managers in polo shirts at the noon witching hour.

The walls are painted a vibrant ocean blue, which serve as a backdrop for hand-painted, wispy clouds. The wait staff was friendly and swift. Ambiance-wise, it was an ideal break from the grind of a workday.

I brought along two fairly reliable dining companions: Timothy McNulty and Annie Siebert. Upon being seated in the near-empty dining room, we were promptly given fried spring rolls with a little sweet and tart pink dipping sauce, free of charge. My spring roll lacked the crisp I'm accustomed to, but the filling of meat, vegetables and glass noodles was spot on.

Next up, we got the steamed dumplings ($7. …

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