Monday, October 8, 2007

Restaurant Review: Thai Urban Kitchen

Work in the Loop and need some spice? Try this new Thai eatery

Thai Urban Kitchen is a surprising addition to the Ogilvy Transportation Center. Clocking in at 5,000 square feet, the ultra-modern, sleek interior feels like it would be more at home on Randolph Street instead of parked in the middle of a transportation hub. The team behind Lakeview’s Sura Thai may have been wise in their choice of locale: with 40,000 people streaming through the building everyday, some of the commuters and workers might be hungry for something other than the usual food court confections. Right now, the kitchen is serving breakfast and lunch only – dinner is slated for the fall. The menu is compact but covers all the basics, and at $13 or under for an entrĂ©e and a complimentary appetizer, it’s a good deal for a slightly more upscale bite to eat. For appetizers, we tried the steamed dumplings with chicken and shrimp, the Four Season Rolls – a very standard spring roll, and the semolina fritters served with chili-plum sauce. Of the three, the fritter was the star, and the only one I would try again. The entrees cover the standard Thai basics. In a city where pad thai is almost as common as pizza, it’s hard to stand out, but this one, served with smoked tofu, was delicious. The basil dish with toasted chili paste was also good, while the Massaman curry -- served with sweet potato, lotus root and peanuts -- just felt really heavy. The restaurant’s claim to fame might ultimately be the breakfast -- with innovative fare like brioche French toast with kaffir lime sugar, and coconut waffles with coconut rum banana sauce, it’s a welcome twist on standard brunch fare. Don’t want to wait during the lunch hour rush? I found the perfect solution: go on the weekend. I went at noon on a Sunday and was literally the only customer there. The service was fantastic -- as the lone diner I was virtually showered with attention. -- Annie Porter

The Details:
Thai Urban Kitchen
500 W Madison, 888/955-5885
Weekdays: Breakfast 6:30 -10, Lunch 11-3; Weekends: 9-3