Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Thai Pepper

Location: Ashland, OR

Food: Thai

Close To: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Oregon Cabaret Theatre

Thai restaurants have attained a foothold in American cuisine in the past twenty years, and they range from inexpensive places that offer takeout (such as Lotus Thai Bistro) to more upscale restaurants whose offerings transform and uplift common favorites like Pad Thai. If you want to combine first rate Thai cuisine with a show at OSF for an unforgettable evening, Thai Pepper in Ashland is an excellent option.

Thai Pepper’s menu items are a combination of twists on common Thai menu items and its own interesting creations. Seafood (especially shrimp) sees a lot of use, including in its tiger rolls ($10), won ton rolls stuffed with crabmeat and cream cheese served alongside a sweet-spicy chili sauce. You may have tried this as “crab golden bags” or "crab rangoon" at other locations, but the two-bite size, graspable shape, and appealing plating makes the dish more appealing. The chicken satay skewers ($13), served with peanut sauce, are also an excellent choice.

For the main course, diners have a host of diverse options. Many restaurants offer pad thai, but Thai Pepper’s version ($17 with chicken, $19 with shrimp) emphasizes tangy citrus notes, especially lime. Thai Pepper also offers a number of specials; one of the most common is a rack of lamb glazed in soy sauce and served with a platter of vegetables ($27). The lamb is cooked perfectly, with the smoky notes from the sauce combining well with the tender texture.

More meat-heavy dishes include the Evil Jungle ($18), a coconut beef curry served over a bed of cooked spinach. The fresh spinach provides a contrast to the savory beef flavor. If you prefer curry, there are a number of options ($16 to $19), all made with fresh vegetables and served with a delightfully sour cucumber salad.

Thai Pepper's vibrant atmosphere is part of what makes it such a great dining experience. Housed in a two-story building overlooking Ashland Creek, you can have a nice dinner in the more social bar area, go downstairs for a quiet, intimate space, or enjoy your meal at a heated table outside. Even when in a hurry to get to a play,

For those of you whose vacations in Ashland are largely taken up by theatre performances, it can be nice to take a break from your busy schedule and enjoy some good food. When it comes to upscale Asian cuisine within walking distance from the theatre, there’s no better choice than Thai Pepper.

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