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Hamden CT - Thai Extrodinaire!

  • ElsieB Nov 15, 2007 04:58 PM

Just returned from an exceptional experience at The Terrace restaurant on Dixwell Avenue in Hamden. A few months ago, a flyer was on our mailbox for this restaurant, newly opened. It looked interesting because the description of:

'...delicious and uncommon Thai foods with French look by an experienced Thai chef who understands the spirit of Thai foods, cooks by her passion, and advanced her skill in Paul Bocuse Culinary Institute......"

that really piqued my interest.
So tonight we sought it out and were very, very excited by this new restaurant. This Thai food is so elevated beyond what I have experienced, beautiful presentations, wonderful flavors - I am gushing, I know, but I think this place really deserves an extreme rec! Spring rolls were best I have ever tasted, the papaya salad was just amazing, I had a yellow vegetable curry and my other had duck curry which he raved about. I had to try a dessert, there was Spaghetti and Meatballs - which was really rich very vanilla ice cream extruded out to look like a plate of pasta with a delicious strawberry sauce and 2 chocolate truffles (meatballs) - sounds silly but was so creative and really delicious. I wish this restaurant the best success. You can taste and see her love and passion for her cooking. The decor is very euro/simple and pleasant and the waiter was charming and helpful.

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  1. I'm really interested in trying this place. I'm glad to hear such a good review.

    2 Replies
    1. re: gingerlorax

      Living in the general vicinity of The Terrace, I frequently drive past this place and have watched its painfully slow construction for the past couple of years. I think their biggest problem is going to be "spreading the word," as I think that most who have driven past it think that it was never going to open. Even now, with the stellar reviews (both here and in the New Haven newspaper), I have seldom seen more than one or two tables occupied. It would be my sense that no matter how good the food is, unless they can grow their business fairly rapidly, their stint might be very brief. That being said, we plan on trying it soon (hopefully, not as a one-shot deal!).

      1. re: lsnhc

        Well, I can't vouch for the food, because I haven't eaten there yet, but I walked in and tried to order takeout tonight and couldn't because they were too busy. Every table except one was full. I did take a menu and it does look very good. Was disappointed because I really wanted Thai (and I don't like Shaliga which is around the corner from my house), but I will definitely be back (was also impressed with the decor). I think you're right that "spreading the word" will be key, but Hamden could certainly use a good Thai restaurant. Hopefully how full it was tonight is a sign of things to come (and hoepfully when I actually end up eating there the food will live up to my hopes).

    2. Is that the place in front of Planet Fitness? I keep meaning to try it out. It's encouraging to hear such a nice review!

      1 Reply
      1. re: JRW

        Yes, it is. And to follow up my last post, I went back and ordered takeout Saturday night and was not disappointed. Didn't order anything too extravagant (Drunken noodles, pineapple fried rice with chicken and chicken satay). Drunken noodles and pineapple fried rice were very good. Both tasted very fresh and homemade. Anyway, it will definitely be added to my list of go-to takeout places (I have two yound kids, so I'm into takeout these days). I'd like to try one of the curries next time.

      2. Try Thai Awesome a few doors south on Dixwell-better food,lower prices. The atmosphere sucks, but then again, thats not why you came...
        I've eaten here numerous times and never had a miss.
        Everything is made to order-special requests are never turned down.
        Soups are excellent-always a good indicator of a healthy kitchen.
        The owner Kim is a local ( has a cart on Cedar St too) who is usually onsite and eager to please.
        Best Pad Thai in the area, imho.
        For drunken noodles-try ground chicken-they are spiced just right-hot but not too much...lots of egg,onion and basil...
        Summer rolls are fresh with crisp lettuce, basil shrimp and noodles-rolled tight- only 3.95.
        Whole Chili Fish is a steal at $12.95.
        Grab it before the price goes up.

        1. Went back again.....
          Got takeout this time and to say we were disappointed is an understatement. Don't know if they are uneven or what. But my original post stands with great reservation.

          1. Based on great reviews, last night I went to The Terrace with friends. First of all, the decor is far from "European" as described in other reviews. You enter right in to the seating area which is basically a white pallette with glass topped tables that are sprayed down after each use. I joined my friend already seated at our table and immediately realized the noise level is very high and conversation would not be easy with a full dining room. A waiter took our drink order and ten or fifteen minutes later our wine was served. I was willing to overlook this initial negative vibe for what I read was extraordinary food. The Spring Rolls (elaborately presented) were small, forgettable and extremely dry. We asked for additional sauce and the waitress brought us out the smallest glass containing no more than 2 tablespoons of sauce. The Furry Prawns were quite good but again no sauce for dipping. Our entrees were good but the portions extremely small and the rice bowl placed on our table to serve three was a serving for one. The waitress reminded us the chef was a previous pastry chef and so we ordered two desserts. The sticky rice with mango was uninspired - very dry. And again, the portions, were kid size - mind you I am a petite woman who hates supersized meals but the portions here are small. But the bill, with tip, came to $50 each! I suggest going to The Rice Pot on State Street in New Haven. The food is the best Thai I've had in this area, the ambiance is great, and it is so affordable.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pnelson4524

              I have read the Terrace reviews with a great deal of interest. Seldom do you see such contrary opinions to the extent that they have been posted here.
              I recently ran into a friend who is in the food business and is a distinctly qualified "foodie." He and his wife have eaten at the Terrace twice - first for dinner then for lunch. They absolutely loved the food, but said that the prices were really quite astronomical for what was received. What they thought was a rather straightforward dinner (which, again, they really liked) was over $100 with no liquor. A simple lunch was $40+. While these kinds of prices might be the norm for some of downtown New Haven's upscale restaurants, it is very hard to justify the pricing for a Thai restaurant in a rather dreary area of Hamden.
              I drive by The Terrace several times a week and there seldom seems to be more than a handful of diners at any given time. It seems clear that unless they bring their prices and servings in line with some of the other finer Thai restaurants in the area (Cordon Bleu training notwithstanding), they will have a very difficult time remaining open.
              To comment a bit further, we have eaten at Thai Awesome and while we thought it was good, there were definitely no "sparks." That being said, the prices were very, very moderate and we would definitely go back for a quick, informal meal. As of now, our favorite New Haven Thai remains the Rice Pot.

            2. I've heard alot of hype about The Terrace but haven't tried it yet...Looking forward to it though. I am Thai and often skeptical of "overdone" or "over sell" AND overpriced, Thai-fusion restaurants but a number of friends whose palates we trust highly recommend the restaurant. For now, I agree with lsnhc below - Rice Pot remains the favorite! Thai Awesome is not bad if you want simple take out that is not overpriced.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LCM

                I had lunch at The Terrace today and had a wonderful meal. I ordered the Koa-Pad Pineapple with chicken and LOVED it. It smelled so good when the waiter placed the plate on my table that most of my friends asked me if they could have some. I even doggie-bagged my leftovers and ate them for dinner.

                I sampled my friend's pad thai, and it tasted more authentic than the more Americanized versions that I've sampled elsewhere in the New Haven area. The Terrace may be a little pricer than other Thai restaurants here, but it's totally worth it, given the quality of the food. I am looking forward to going back there soon.

              2. I liked the title so I thought I'd hang my hat on this thread. I have posted a number of times about eating lunch and dinner here. A few nights ago we took Kattyeyes and her SO there. I think we were all delighted with the meal.
                I dropped my camera from my lap and may have killed it. :( Couldn't take pictures. Also the owner waited on us (as he has waited on me/us many times before), and he asked that we not publish pictures of the desserts because they were original creations by the chef. One was very unusual. Called "spaghetti and meatballs" it was vanilla ice cream with balls made from (perhaps), a Nestle Crunch Bar and deep fried. There was slightly syrupy strawberry jam over the vanilla ice cream. Some ice cream had been extruded to look like Fettuccine noodles. Very effective looking dessert in our low light setting. You might be fooled, just looking at it! The other dessert was a "brownie" made in two layers accompanied by vanilla ice cream. Very good, but no big deal visually.

                We started with pork Larb that was plenty spicy for "medium". It was as good as any I have had.
                We also shared delicious, lightly cooked sea scallops, Thai style.
                I had a spicy whole, deboned and splayed open lemon fish. Everyone agreed it was fantastic. I ordered it "hot" so others got pieces of it with the topping scraped off. Kattyeyes does not like cooked fish; how strange...she loves sushi and sashimi.
                SO had rare, thin sliced beef salad. Perfect! Kattyeyes had chicken curry with vegetables. She really liked it, but I thought it just OK; a little bland, too heavy on green beans and lacking Thai eggplant. It was the only dish that didn't wow me.
                Her SO had chicken Pad Thai (which was supposed to be shrimp Pad Thai, but he did not want to send it back). The owner took our orders! I tasted it and it was good, though I usually don't order Pad Thai.
                Food here is spicier, fresher, more creative and perfectly cooked than any Thai place I have been to in Connecticut. The owner or other waiter will ask you if you want it "mild", "medium", "hot" or "very hot". Medium is hotter than anywhere else in the area. I have enjoyed "hot", but it will not be enjoyed by many!
                The Terrace is small. They have about ten or twelve tables in all and a few are two-tops. The place is clean, simply decorated and very pleasant. They have expanded their wine list and have a nice selection and price range. I do not know if they take reservations. Though near full, there was always a table available.
                I just don't think you can go wrong with eating here unless you want wimpy, dumbed-down Thai. The chef is creative and the owner is doing things right. Their service was near flawless. He crumbed the table before dessert! I put it way above anywhere else in the New Haven area.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Scargod

                  OK, Point-Counterpoint!

                  The "Spaghetti and Meatballs" was clever visually, but didn't come close to rocking my world from a taste perspective. Of the four of us, I'd say I probably have the biggest sweet tooth and barely touched the ice cream. The "truffles" really did taste like a melted down Nestle Crunch or a Hershey's Krackel...not the least bit like a real truffle, which would have made it far tastier and would have justified its price for me. I didn't care for the brownie, either, and didn't have more than a bite or two, which is unusual for the queen of dessert.

                  Out of the four of us, everyone but me was happy with the sea scallops. The first thing I could taste when I tried them was fish sauce, and for me, that's like taking something sweet, delicious and NOT FISHY, and FISHING it up. So I didn't care for it, but that was cool, because it left plenty for the rest of the table.

                  The larb was delicious, and at "medium" was hotter than the average "medium" to be sure. I would dial that back for myself the next time. "Mildly hot" would have been just right for me. It was lip numbing to say the least, but very, very tasty, I concur. And it had been a while since I ordered larb, so was glad to enjoy this dish again. Will have to try it in other places and see how it compares.

                  The Scargoddess's sliced beef salad was excellent, too. I would definitely recommend this dish highly.

                  I think Scargod's tastebuds must have been numbed after the larb...I know mine were! My green curry was anything but "bland"...and the menu didn't say it came with Japanese eggplant, so it was no loss to me. I've had this dish at Thai Angel in Glastonbury and it does come with Japanese eggplant there (and no carrots as they serve at Thai Terrace), but I thought it was good in both places. I had some leftover the next day and it heated up just as tasty.

                  <<Food here is spicier, fresher, more creative and perfectly cooked than any Thai place I have been to in Connecticut.>> I can't say the same. I'd say The Terrace is on a par with Thai Angel in Glastonbury for freshness and heat, except Thai Angel is less expensive and is BYOB (which we often do) on Wednesday nights. I will say the Terrace's presentation gets points, but overall, don't find them more creative in their execution of each dish. I'd say they're about right on the money--especially in that each of us truly enjoyed what we ordered...even my guy who ordered chicken, got shrimp, but liked it anyway! ;)

                  I will say that we weren't in a hurry as we were just enjoying a night out with friends, but it did seem having the one server/owner for the whole room plus just one other server might have been biting off more than they could chew...we waited a bit for our check, but all in all, it was a good meal--just for us, not the shining star of Thai in CT. That may be to come at Thai Room in West Hartford (I mentioned this place recently after hearing a native Thai recommend it). We'll have to check it out and see!

                  P.S. If you call me "an ignorant _ _ _ _," I'm going to have to smack you. ;)

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    I have only eaten at about eight different Thai places in CT, so I need to try your favs. This is just the best I've had so far and the best of three or four in New Haven area I have dined at repeatedly in the past. I have not eaten at Thai Fantastic, down the street.

                    Perhaps my taste buds were numbed by the time I tried your curry. I finished off the lemonfish recently and wow was it hot (but good)!
                    Agreed the spaghetti and meatball was more of a wow for the presentation. I said it was unusual, not a fantastic or unusually good tasting dessert. I do not know chocolates well. I defer to you, the Goddess of Desserts... Smack the Mack, as in kiss?

                2. I did a review today. I'm still a little confused about how/where is best way or place for doing this. Anyway, it is there if you follow the link to the restaurant.

                  I was not that impressed with Thai Awesome. Just average. I like The Terrace better (just down the street), and think it is the top Thai place in the area.

                  -----
                  Thai Awesome
                  1505 Dixwell Ave, Hamden, CT 06514

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Scargod

                    I am a bit surprised to find no mention on this board of Sawadee Thai in South Windsor, CT. It is a family-run operation with some of the most delicious Thai food in the state. Several friends and I always want to go back after being there. There are always great specials and the service is fine. Has anyone on this board been there? It is, as they say, definitely worth a detour.

                    www.sawadeethaicuisine.com

                    1. re: philbkr

                      I haven't been in too many (5+) years to have a strong memory of what I had and how good it was, but I've definitely been. Perhaps it's time to revisit.