CLIFTON PARK Park Place Blue Spice restaurant, a charming little gem that’s a little off the beaten path in the Village Plaza on busy Clifton Country Road, serves modern Thai cuisine in a setting that is disarmingly inviting and conducive to relaxed conversation over dinner.
There are big blue vases, little statues of elephants, potted plants, sand and water elements and stones in the pleasing decor. The service is quietly efficient, and the food is delightful in pretty presentations that play on colors, textures and flavors.
It was raining when we arrived on a Friday evening, and we ordered beverages to warm us up — mugs of hot tea with lemon — which we sipped as we leisurely scanned our menus.
Beverly ordered Fresh Basil Rolls ($6) for her appetizer, and I chose the Shrimp Wonton Soup ($5), and neither of us had any regrets.
The Basil Rolls were almost too pretty to eat — almost — consisting of fresh basil, raw julienned vegetables and rice noodles wrapped in delicate rice paper and served with a honey tamarind sauce. The combination of crispy cold vegetables, noodles, the soft rice paper and sweetly piquant sauce was most pleasurable.
Park Place Blue Spice
WHERE: 19 Clifton Country Road, Village Plaza, Clifton Park; 557-2116, www.bluespiceny.com
WHEN: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; dinner 4:30-9 p.m. daily
OTHER INFO: Handicapped accessible; all major credit cards accepted
Winning similar applause was the soup, a clear broth with delicate shrimp wontons, bean sprouts and shiitake mushroom, subtly flavored with fried garlic, scallions and cilantro.
DUCK IN A CURRY
It took us some time to decide on our entrée choices because the possibilities were extensive.
Beverly chose a house Blue Curry ($22) — red curry coconut milk sauce, fresh mango and pineapple, peppers and basil with crispy eggplant, boneless duck and sautéed shrimp. It was a great choice: the savory sauce, the duck and shrimp complemented well by the sweet highlights of the fruit, the crisp eggplant and the fresh basil. A side of steamed jasmine white rice came with the curry, but you also can order brown rice or sticky white rice.
My choice was the Pad Thai ($12), the classic Thai noodle dish with pork — what I consider Thai comfort food — thin rice noodles, tender slices of pork loin, egg, bean sprouts, scallions and ground peanuts topped with scallions and cilantro. You can also choose chicken, beef, vegetables or fried tofu with your noodles.
We concluded our evening on a sweet note, sharing the Princess Pineapple Coconut ($7), a layered dessert with some altitude that came topped with whipped cream on a plate decorated with chocolate swirls. It was as pretty to look at as it was to taste, but next time I’m going for the fried ice cream, which comes wrapped in a lovely berry sauce.
We were pleased with our experience at Blue Spice and certainly will dine there again. Our tab, for tea, appetizers and entrées with tax and tip, came to $71.92.
Besides Pad Thai and the curries, you’ll find Chicken Satay on the menu (grilled marinated chicken on skewers with peanut sauce for $6 for an appetizer portion) and potstickers (steamed vegetables and chicken-filled dumplings with a light red curry sauce, also for $6).
House specials include a Gaanploo Duck ($18), crispy boneless duck in a ginger tamarind sauce finished with fried shallots and served with crispy eggplant and vegetables; and a Seafood Bouillabaisse ($20), fresh salmon fillet, shrimp, scallops, calamari and mussels in a green curry and coconut milk sauce with tapioca, pepper, green peas and fresh basil. If you’re in the mood for beef, there’s a grilled steak accompanied by vegetables and a spicy dipping sauce for $18. The house specials are all served with steamed jasmine white rice.
And, yes, you can order Kee Mao, the Thai name for “drunken noodles,” which are flat rice noodles with egg, vegetables and spicy basil sauce.
There is a separate lunch menu where you can find drunken noodles with beef (Beef Kee Mao, $8), and Ga Pow Gai on Rice ($8), which is sautéed ground chicken with fresh garlic and Thai pepper, onion, green beans and red pepper with fresh basil.
The Park Place Blue Spice is the third in a Capital Region group of restaurants. The other two are the original restaurant, Water House Blue Spice, now at 1614 Central Ave. in Colonie, where Garcia’s used to be, and the second, Delmar Blue Spice at 155 Delaware Ave. Park Place Blue Spice opened in 2010.