Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Orchid Thai Review

As a food blogger, I keep a list of restaurants I want to visit in the future from friend's recommendations and discovering new finds through databases and review sites such as Find Me Gluten Free. Though this has helped me break out of my mold and discover new restaurants, I've quickly realized that Central Florida has way more gluten-free friendly places than I first thought which has made my list seemingly endless and quite overwhelming. While this is a great problem to have because it means our gluten-free community is strong and growing, it's a slow process to work my way through the list which can be frustrating when I want to try everything right then and there. 

Orchid Thai in Winter Park is one such place that has been on my list for a while. Wanting to go out to lunch with a friend this week, I knew exactly where to suggest when we agreed to meet on Park Avenue. A favorite of another local blogger, I couldn't wait to try my first exclusively Thai restaurant with gluten and dairy free considerations.

The day we picked to go was perfect because it offered a rare break from the searing heat of June. With temperatures in the low 80's with no humidity and the skies perfectly overcast, my friend and I relished the opportunity to eat outside with our dogs. Calling ahead to let them know our canine friends would be joining us, the staff prepared a table in the shade, but upon realizing it was inaccessible, quickly adapted to a more accessible table. I really appreciated their flexibility, and must say their outdoor seating is limited, but really worth it when it's not too hot and/or muggy.


Once settled, I looked over the gluten-free menu, and yes, they do have a separate full-page menu, and was enticed by so many different and safe options: Small plates, soups, salads, rice dishes, curries, and noodles can all be made gluten-free (see menu here). Wanting to sample everything I focused in on items I'd never tried before. The curries stood out in this department thanks to their unique blending of spices and flavors. After looking over all of the options and talking with the waiter, I decided on the green curry with shrimp, which blended the flavors of lemongrass, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, and basil. I was told it was medium spicy which fit the bill for lunch. One item to note is that during lunch, Orchid Thai offers lunch specials which feature smaller portions of their offerings along with a side salad. My friend and mom ordered the Panang curry so our lunch turned into a curry adventure.


Although I do not have peanut allergies, I tend to avoid them because I have had bad reactions to them in the past. The side salad that comes with the lunch portion comes with a peanut dressing, but upon request, the waiter happily took it off. While it might seem weird to eat a salad sans dressing, I was perfectly happy to enjoy the crisp, fresh veggies on their own. It spoke to their flavor that they were delicious without any dressing. My mom and friend really liked the dressing, noting it had a ginger-peanut flavor that was unique and tasty.


When the curry came out, I was impressed by the simple, yet elegant, presentation of the dish. This makes all the difference as it elevates an ordinary meal into a special treat. As pictured, my dish came with white rice, but brown rice can be requested. I actually ordered brown rice but was given white so they provided me an extra serving of brown rice on the side. Tasting the curry "sauce" first, I loved the rich, creamy texture that supported the lovely lime note mixed in with the spices. Included with the shrimp, which were well cooked and fresh, was a vegetable medley that included carrots, bell pepper, zucchini and bamboo shoots. Cut into bite-sized pieces, they were easy to eat and provided color to the dish. I especially loved the sweet, tender bamboo shoots which went especially well with the curry "sauce". Though my portion was small, it definitely filled me up and was a satisfying lunch portion. I found myself spooning up the remainder of the curry "sauce" because I couldn't get enough of its smooth texture and indulgent taste. My mom and friend both enjoyed their curries too and found them to be perfectly spiced. 

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Orchid Thai for its atmosphere and food. I highly recommend sitting outside because it's an ideal spot to observe all the happenings on Park Avenue. Our server was very knowledgeable and attentive to our questions and requests. Even when eyeing my empty plate, I longed to come back later in the day to try more dishes off their expansive menu. Orchid Thai is a great place to bring friends for casual lunch or for more formal occasions such as celebratory dinners. 

For other gluten-free options in Winter Park, click here.


The Basics

Address: 305 N. Park Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789
Website: www.orchidthaiwinterpark.com
Cuisine: Thai
Ideal For: Lunch and/or Dinner 
Price: $10-20 for lunch, $20-30 for dinner
Accessibility: Outside seating is accessible. I did not go into the actual restaurant so do not know the status of its accessibility.
Special Features: They offer delivery though Doorstep Delivery and have catering available upon request.
Orchid Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: Restaurant reviews are based upon the information I have at the time of the review and do not reflect changes in ingredients or availability of items. Please contact the restaurant directly for up-to-date information and feel free to to contact me with any questions or comments. I was not compensated for this review and it is a reflection of my personal opinion.

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