What the Hell is This Thing?
2 weeks ago
Teak was actually the first restaurant I visited in Cincinnati. A friend of a friend took me there on my first night in town for an interview, and I was very impressed with the Mount Adams neighborhood and the restaurant itself. The full name is Teak Thai Cuisine, and the menu is full of various Thai, seafood, and sushi options--there’s something for just about everyone there.
My most recent visit was a chance to test out the scene on my own visitors and to get a more objective opinion; Teak passed with flying colors. Although frequently crowded on Friday and Saturday nights, the restaurant was almost entirely empty on our Thursday evening except for having an almost full--and extremely large--patio. The patio has seating for more than fifty patrons, with multiple tiers of seating, which makes the patio both comfortable and attractive. We sat outside because the interior was a little too cold and the weather was perfect for dining al fresco. Unfortunately, Teak’s location doesn’t have any views of the river or downtown, but the patio’s trees and tiers still make for a great location.
After spending some time perusing the quite lengthy menu, the four of us had settled on food for the evening. We started with a couple of different appetizers: vegetable spring rolls and crab puffs. The spring rolls were exactly what we wanted--a well stuffed roll with a nice crispy outside and tasty sauce to accompany it. The crab puffs--sometimes called Crab Rangoon in other cuisines--were also great, though they were stuffed with less cream cheese than other similar dishes I’ve tried.
Between the four of us there was a great variety of food for the main course: sweet & sour salmon; chicken with corn, snow peas, mushrooms, and carrots; beef stir-fry with vegetables; and massaman chicken curry. Teak lets you choose the spiciness of your dish on a scale of 1 to 10, and every dish comes with plenty of rice (or in our case a giant pot of it). However, the number you choose can be hit or miss--my 7 had a nice kick to it, but no flames that needed dousing, while another person’s 1 still had a noticeable kick.
My dish was the Massaman Chicken Curry, and it was fantastic. I confess it’s not the first time I’ve ordered it, but the dish is a favorite of mine and impresses me every time I order it at Teak. The curry is made with coconut milk, cinnamon, peanuts, and a tamarind sauce amongst other ingredients. It has a great rich taste and is served with potatoes and carrots, which makes for a very filling meal. With a spice level of 7, the taste is kicked up even more, but not to a level requiring much water and certainly not requiring milk to put out the flames.
A quick survey of the rest of the table found that everyone was thoroughly enjoying their meals, and Teak impressed even the pickiest of our eaters. If you need a mid-week destination or don’t mind a little wait on the weekends, Teak is well worth the short trek to Mount Adams.
We wanted to take recent visitors to Mt. Adams, for the great view, the delicious food, to give them a glimpse into Cincinnati life, and because a friend of theirs had told them not to miss the MOUNTAIN in Cincinnati! We altered their expectations slightly, and we were on our way.
We decided to head to Teak on a Thursday night, because on a previous weekend visit, we waited over an hour for a table—an experience we would prefer not to repeat. This time, we walked right in. The restaurant itself was surprisingly empty, including the bar. Outside on the multi-level patio, however, tables were relatively full. I was a little nervous to sit outside, given my apparent attractiveness to all biting bugs, but it was remarkably not-buggy. The patio is great. It feels very informal, but the service is just as good as any indoor restaurant. There is no view of the city, but we sat surrounded by trees and plants, which in my book is just as good as a city overlook.
We started our meal with spring rolls. They were very good: not too greasy, and filled with a variety of veggies, not dominated by lettuce. The sauces served with the rolls were flavorful and did not overwhelm the rolls, and nothing was overly spicy.
Next up was the main course. I ordered Stir-fried Sweet and Sour Salmon, and no, that is not so easy to say. Teak is one of a few places I have been to recently where they ask diners to choose their preferred spice level on a scale of 1-10. I chose a very middling 5. (I realized afterwards that I should have gone with a Six, to complete the alliteration of my meal, but I was pretty flustered by that time.) In any case, it came out just right for me. There was a kick to my meal, but it was not so spicy that I couldn’t enjoy it. And I certainly did enjoy it (once I removed the broccoli).
The salmon came in one big piece on top, although I had expected it in smaller pieces. It was cooked perfectly: just about all the way through, but a bit less so toward the middle. It was also a HUGE piece of salmon! I got through most of it. In addition to the offensive broccoli, there were peppers, peapods, and onions, among other veggies, and of course a big bowl of rice for the table.
Portions were more than enough food, especially after our appetizers. We had talked about heading to Graeter’s after dinner, but that thought was (sadly) postponed, as we were all very full after Teak. They did, however, manage to end the meal on an even higher note than expected. Inside the check, there was an Andes Mint for each of us. While my date tried to hoard them all for himself, I managed to free them, and was excited to end dinner on with such a minty-chocolatey-sweet surprise. I can’t wait to go back again, but hopefully on another night without a long wait.