If you read my Pincher's post, you know that hubby and I spent many a vacation in Bonita Beach (Ft. Myers area) during our dating years. And as part of our travels, we always carved out a day to visit Venice Beach and look for shark's teeth. As a little girl, I spent a good 4-5 years wanting to be a Paleontologist, so these trips fulfill my childhood longing to hunt for fossils. Each year, we find less and less teeth at Venice, as the beach has been dredged many times and sand has been brought in from other areas (thanks for killing all the fun, whoever decided to do that!). So this Memorial Day weekend, we decided to check out the tooth action at Caspersen Beach, which is just south of Venice. And on the way home we vowed to stop and have dinner at Thai Bistro.
I'd had my sights set on Thai Bistro ever since reading Ashton Goggans' article in SRQ Magazine entitled Adventures in Dining: Thai Journeys. In the article, Ashton describes his visits to 3 Thai joints in the Sarasota area. While he provided fairly positive accounts of all 3 - Tropical Thai, Bangkok Thai and Thai Bistro - I'd already eaten at the first two and wasn't impressed. His most glowing account was reserved for the Volcano Chicken at Thai Bistro. When a man wants to "lean back in his seat and cry" because a dish was so good, I'm sold, sign me up! I just hoped the dish lived up to his effusive praise.
After a hard day of looking for shark's teeth and filling up about a half of a quart size Ziploc bag, we had worked up a furious appetite. Don't laugh. Looking for shark's teeth is no joke. You've gotta get in the water with your scooper basket, fight the waves to scoop up some sand and shake it out, dump your findings out on shore, bend over them and sift through to MAYBE, JUST MAYBE find one tooth! It's more than likely that both your back and thighs will be sore the next day, but hey - you go home with some prehistoric fossils sure to impress your friends and neighbors (or freak them out).
Anyway...we arrived at Thai Bistro all starving and stuff. It's a tiny little joint in a strip mall on the side of the road that you might never look at twice. But I'd learned from my dining experiences in Tallahassee not to judge a restaurant by it's location. We were greeted with a friendly smile and ushered quickly to a table. Neither of us even had to look at the menu to know what we wanted. I was going for the Volcano Chicken and hubby went for his mainstay favorite, Shrimp Fried Rice.
I have to give Ashton credit, because the Volcano Chicken was everything he said it would be. It doesn't pack the intense heat that you might expect from the name, and instead is only slightly spicy. This is due to the fact that the chicken is tempura fried and coated in a Sweet Thai Chili sauce. It's also cooked with a healthy serving of basil and garlic which makes every forkful pleasantly fragrant. They're simply little bites of crunchy, sweet, spicy delight. I quite enjoyed putting the chicken over white rice along with a slathering of the sauce for good measure. If it's any indication of how much I liked this dish, I ate the entire thing by myself and I NEVER do that. Usually I can only eat about half of a good Asian-sized portion, but this plate was darn near licked clean.
Hubby was also fairly satisfied by his Shrimp Fried Rice. It was definitely better than the fried rice we'd had at the Sarasota Thai restaurants we'd been to. While it probably could have been a bit spicier for his taste, it still had a nice flavor to it. To me, a good fried rice isn't just a matter of putting some soy sauce on rice and veggies. The rice needs to have that nice sticky texture and a good blend of spices for an extra kick. At home, I put a little Sriracha sauce on mine when I cook it and it gives it a nice punch.
Thai Bistro has been our best experience with Thai food since moving to Sarasota. We'd definitely return the next time we're in the Venice area, but until then it would be nice to have somewhere closer to home to satisfy our cravings. Let me know your favorite Thai restaurant in the comment section and I'll be sure to check it out. And while you're at it, let me know if you have any Chinese favorites as well. I do love good Asian food!
Atmosphere - B
Taste - B+
Presentation - B
Service - B+
Price - $$
537 E Venice Ave
Venice FL 34285