Higher heights, deeper depths

At one time, when revolving rooftop restaurants were the latest thing, it was standard restaurant wisdom that the higher you went to dine, the worse the food. (Windows on the World at the top of the World Trade Center in pre-terrorist times being the exception that proved the rule.)

Last week I remembered that maxim and wondered if it might hold true on a sliding scale: Thai Taste is only on the second floor, and the food wasn't bad, but it was so much less exciting than so many Thai places that you wondered if the modest view was supposed to provide the missing pizzazz factor.

This is one of the oddest-looking buildings in a city of distinctively odd profiles. It grew up at the height of the tile craze when everything seemed to look like a bathroom turned inside out (remember SRO and Rocco's?). So you have a whole tower of pink tiles with insets of bluish glass on the second floor where the restaurant of the moment is. Right now, the second-floor tenant is Thai Taste, which used to be in the old church where Chips has moved. It's so hard to keep up.

You enter to an empty bar, and are led upstairs to a table in a cold room with lots of houseplants and a canned piano tinkling in the background. This is a white tablecloth place, and the atmosphere is sedate and measured, conducive to long, quiet conversations. As I said, the view isn't much at the corner of Cole and Fitzhugh. But the room is airy, perched on a mezzanine with the ceiling going up a few stories and walls of tinted glass.

Dallas has a lot of Thai restaurants now, and most of them are pretty good; some are even outstanding. Annie Wong's Thai Taste seemed innovative when it opened, and there are still some unusual dishes on the menu--barbecue calamari, Thai-style samosas--and a few, like the "Thai tacos," that other restaurants have copied.

Mostly we thought our food was fine, but pretty unexciting. The fried corn patties we ordered to start with were slightly tough instead of richly crisp. And the Thai taco shell was tough, too; its filling of fried tofu, coconut threads dyed red, and sprouts seemed like a haystack of dry straws--it needed some juice, some fat, frankly, to pull it all together. Satay, chicken and pork (you can get tofu, too), were good, cut thicker than at many places, but sweet with turmeric. Panang curry and beef with mint were winners in the traditional category--both hot, fragrant, typically Thai.

Thai Taste is a great choice for vegetarians--there's a whole list of vegetarian entrees, most of them based on tofu and noodles. And of course, everything looked lovely, with the carved vegetable flowers and fresh vegetable garnishes typical of Thai presentations.

We thought the service was a little slow, but maybe that's because the servers had to run up and down the stairs all the time.

--Mary Brown Malouf

Thai Taste, 3101 N. Fitzhugh, 521-3513. Open for lunch Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; for dinner Monday-Thursday 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.-11 p.m.

Thai Taste:
Corn patties $4.95
Tofu satay $4.95
Panang $6.75


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