Evening restaurant review
It seems that in SLC, as any cuisine becomes popular, more refined examples start to emerge. For example, swathes of burger restaurants have given way to the upscale ACME Burger Company. The ubiquity of standard Mexican eateries can be seen evolved at a restaurant like Chimayo in Park City. Monsoon Thai Bistro is another such example; taking the great flavors of Thai food and elevating the experience.
I should preface my review of Monsoon Thai Bistro by admitting I am fairly biased. We had our wedding reception lunch at the restaurant. We now count some of the servers, and indeed the owner, as friends. That being said, we chose the location for our special day based on many years of top-notch dining experiences.
Monsoon Thai Bistro is slightly hidden away in Lamplighter Square, atop what was the former location of Bombay House. (Wendi’s note: I’m not 100% sure, but I think there was once a French restaurant called Le Hermitage where Monsoon is housed now.) The restaurant is entered via a flight of stairs from the parking lot.
The restaurant space is one of the main elements that sets Monsoon Thai Bistro apart from the crowd. The dining room features wood paneled walls subtly and elegantly accented with the odd Thai curio. The tables are suitably spaced for a romantic evening out and are replete with crisp white table clothes and appropriate glassware. The main dining room features a fireplace (often burning in the colder months), which, coupled with the candlelit tables, creates a comfortable and intimate experience.
The second notable element is the formidable wine list. Coming to the table in a satisfyingly heavy book, the 320 selection-strong wine list is priced in line with what you would expect for any similar Utah restaurant. A small number of wines are available by the glass. More pleasing (I find) is the selection of half bottles, perfect for the solo wine drinker, or maybe the couple that cannot decide on red or white for the evening. The wine list has earned the restaurant a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
On our most recent visit, the meal began with an Amuse Bouche (as is standard):
This evenings was a Thai fish cake, topped with a sweet and spicy sauce. Nothing exceptional, but nonetheless, a welcome addition to the start of the meal.
Most of the appetizers come in large (4 pieces) or small (2 pieces) portion sizes. Myself and Wendi have a special fondness for the crispy spring rolls (Po Pia Tod). We started the meal by sharing a large portion of these ($8.99):
The spring rolls are stuffed with noodles and vegetables. The roll itself has a great crunch whilst remaining light and not at all greasy. Quite the marked difference to other stodgy spring rolls we often encounter. The rolls are also served with a sweet dipping sauce and prawn crackers.
We find Monsoon Thai Bistro’s star dishes to be their noodles, stir fries, and curries. On this trip, Wendi chose grilled Salmon in Panang Curry ($16.99):
Both the curry and fish can be ordered to your own tastes. Wendi opted for a medium salmon and spicy curry. The dish came to the table exactly as specified. I should point out that if you ask for your food spicy, that is what you will receive, hot hot hot. I find a lot of variation in the quality of Thai curry across Salt Lake, some maddeningly disappointing. We both find the rendition at Thai Monsoon Bistro excellent, highlighted by the just the right amounts of kaffir lime, coconut and fish sauce.
I chose one of my favorite dishes, Chicken stir fried in chili and basil (Pad Ga Prow $12.99):
Another great dish, this one is spicy and bursting with flavour courtesy of the Thai sweet basil. This is a dish I often make at home, so it’s a dish of which I am normally very critical. I don’t like the dish too soupy, I prefer crunchy vegetables, I love oodles of garlic and I need lots of heat. Monsoon’s dish ticks all the boxes for me.
We finished the meal with the cooling Basil Ice Cream:
A great treat ending a wonderful meal. If you have space, the molten chocolate cake (topped with coconut ice cream) is also great.
Over the years, we have found the service stellar. We have seen staff come and go, and been treated consistently well. I feel I cannot speak completely objectively these days, knowing the main wait staff and all, but from watching other tables on our recent visit, it is obvious everyone else is treated in the same friendly and professional manner. Need help with the menu or a great wine pairing during your visit? That will be no problem.
For all the trappings of a finer dining establishment, prices at Monsoon are competitive. Indeed their monthly wine dinners see a five course set meal priced at $25 with the five glasses of paired wine included for an additional $29.95.
For the cost-conscious out there, take a look on the Monsoon Thai Bistro website for the ever present “buy one get one free” entree coupon. The coupon can also quite often be found in the City Weekly. The coupon, coupled with dishes starting from $9, offers the potential for an exceptionally reasonable priced meal; you just need to try and resist the temptation of a glass of wine or three!
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake. I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. What they’re saying about me: “Not inaccurate”, “I thought he was older”, “I don’t share his feelings”.
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