Mint Cafe Cleveland
Part of an affordable restaurant row in Cleveland Heights, it serves a capable pad Thai and bracing curries. Vegetables are crisp and colorful and sauces burst with flavor, as if whipped up moments before you arrive.
Mint Cafe bills itself as "fine Thai cuisine." It's certainly freshly prepared food. The point of many Thai dishes is, in fact, sauce. Ever-popular pad Thai features a beguiling one that is sweet and sour at the same time, due to the presence of both fish sauce and palm sugar. The sweet-and-spicy glaze coating in Chili Duck turns out to be the precisely right foil for the tender meat, still attached to its skin. If you fear bold flavors, Crazy Noodle is your ticket - a dish that features wide noodles in a mild brown sauce that's studded with chicken breast, shrimp and vegetables. Asterisks alongside menu item denote the level of spiciness. The menu, by the way, says rice dishes can be served vegetarian style. If you do not fear bold flavors, try Mint Cafe's bracing curries. Spicy Panang is my favorite due to lovely citrusy notes from kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass. I opted to have mine tossed with flash-fried tofu, though beef, pork, chicken and shrimp are options with curry. Like all entrees, it's served with jasmine or brown rice, curiously shaped into 6-inch-tall cones.
Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Dinner, 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 3-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 4-9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Prices: Most lunches, $7; dinners, $10-$15.
Reservations: Taken for 3 or more people, with at least 2 hours' notice.
Credit cards: All major cards.