So, in between beating the games, drafting the reviews, and figuring out the recipes, there is empty space that I have started not being okay with. You know what? You, as a reader, should not be okay with it either! So, that’s why “Pies About Town” is here. I eat out whenever I can, and most of the time, I’m eating at some pretty neat little joints. If they’re neat enough, they’ll wind up here at “Pies About Town”.
Consider my radius of traveling and eating is fairly limited, you will see most of these reviews centered around the South-East coast of the good U.S. of A. Maybe, though, just maybe, that perimeter will expand some day.
Until then, here’s the first segment of “Pies About Town”!
Comfort food is a promise. Spicy food is an endurance test. French food is texture. To me, these are classifications inherent to how I feel about different foods, without getting into all of them. Some people may agree with me, some may disagree, but in the end, we all just want something good. That in mind, when I think about Thai food, there is only one word that comes to mind: reaction.
Thai food is reaction.
There are so many flavors, temperatures, textures, presentations, variations that a girl could go crazy trying to categorize it at all. When I take my first bite of Thai food, good Thai food, it’s like walking in on an orchestra tuning up; all those bits of random notes finally come together in a harmonized constant.
When I moved back to Georgia, the hunt for the local, good Thai place was proving fruitless. One place had a one-note, over-cooked pad thai I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and another place was okay, but not really what I wanted to settle on. It was marginal Thai food, and over-priced. Just when the hunt was about to be abandoned, I remembered a little Thai place muscled off to the corner of a too-small-to-be-called-a-strip-mall by a big Papa John’s joint. It was called Thai of Austell, and it was where my journey in search of local Thai food ended.
It’s not that I’m particularly adverse to going into the city of Atlanta, it’s that I’m particularly adverse to dropping too much coin when I’m borderline broke most of the time, and that shouldn’t mean sacrificing flavor! Luckily, Thai of Austell is affordable, while still being delicious. You can live in the appetizer and soup portion of the menu and achieve total satisfaction. My favorite combo involved the garlic-topped dumpling with mushroom soy sauce, served next to a bowl of thom kha gai, a coconut broth that is light and refreshing, a perfect vehicle for fresh ginger, cilantro, lemongrass, chicken, and mushrooms. There is some heat on the back of the palette, a little bit of sweetness from the coconut milk, and the rest is warm and savory. The dumplings are not overcooked, the garlic topping them is roasted and playfully chewy, and mixes well with the meat as you enjoy your first bite with that thick mushroom soy sauce. It’s almost a reduction that never quite solidified; the mushroom in the soy sauce mellows any salty bite, and never conceals the multiple flavors in the dumpling.
Beyond the appetizers and soups, there is a whole world of one excellent dish after the next. The spicy chicken and basil is a sweet heat that goes best with a creamy Thai ice tea. The pad thai comes with various vegge, meat, and flavor. The noodles are never over-cooked, and their texture is pleasant on the tongue. In this classic dish, the flavors mingle into a pleasant finale with every bite. My favorite, though, has to be the mussaman curry.
All of the curries come in a metallic bowl on a base that houses a votive candle. The little flame keeps the curry constantly warm so the temperature hardly slacks. The mild spice and velvety curry sauce coats the palette, rather than pricking with sensational, tingling heat. Instead of finding red potatoes in my mussaman, I found sweet potatoes, which I had never had in mussaman before, but it was one of those moments where I struck my forehead and went: “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?” An avocado brings a level of creaminess to the dish that echoes the purpose of the curry. This is an excellent dish to get on one of those cold, winter nights whenGeorgiaisn’t sure whether it wants to be blustery or bone-chilling and either way result in no snow.
The restaurant itself is small, and the space is limited. There is one booth, and the rest of the space is occupied by a tiny bar, half a dozen tables, and little chairs pulled up to them. So, if you don’t mind sharing your conversation with others, settle in and enjoy your meal in this intimate space. However, if you prefer to not hear people talk about in-laws, LARPs, or “what a bitch” she is or “what a dick” he is, take your meal to go! Thai of Austell also offers carry-out.
Overall, you’re in for a lot of favor and surprise from this tiny establishment. The curries can pack a punch that makes you tingle all over, or warmth that tricks you into thinking maybe you aren’t really eating a curry, maybe you’re really nestled in front of a fire, wrapped in your favorite blanket. The pad thai is an excellent beginner dish to any newcomer of Thai food, and seasoned pros to the food will find all sorts of familiar goodies with twists. If you’re looking to save a penny, and not lose out on deliciousness, check out Thai of Austell if you’re in the area!