While starting out on my diet earlier this year, I was trying to find some alternatives to the usual burger, pizza or barbecue places that I normally find myself at. I had to make a quick trip to Indianapolis to visit a couple of accounts just before my first hip surgery and I stayed out in Castleton. It was late when I got in (you lose an hour when you travel to Indy from the west) and I was hungry. To my surprise, just literally walking distance from my hotel was a new restaurant I'd never seen before - the Thai Orchid.
I normally like to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fisher's just up the road from Castleton. But for some reason I couldn't get a reasonable room rate there this time (reasonable, as in under $119 a night). The Hampton Inn in Castleton is sort of tired and I hadn't stayed there for quite some time. But I was able to get in for $109 a night there. There's a Charleston's next door that I've eaten at a couple three times, but I wasn't quite in the mood for that place that evening. (I'm sort of surprised that I haven't written about Charleston's before, either). Since it had been quite sometime since I'd last stayed at that Hampton Inn, I was pleasantly surprised they had built a small strip mall to the southwest that housed the Thai Orchid (see map).
I asked the girl at the front desk at the Hampton Inn about the Thai Orchid and if she'd been there. She said, "I have not been there because they're closed when I get off work. But I've heard from people who have stayed here and went over there and all of them pretty much said it was good." I asked her how long it had been open and she said "awhile." I didn't pursue a more formative answer than that.
It was sort of spitting rain and sort of cold out, so I just drove the 100 yards over to the Thai Orchid. It was 8:45 when I walked into the restaurant for dinner, just fifteen minutes before they closed up. I stood at the door for a moment before a petite oriental lady came out to greet me. I said, "Is it too late for dinner?"
She said in somewhat broken English, "No, no. Not too late. Please come in, please sit down!"
She put me in a booth and handed me a menu. The menu was thick and had a lot to offer. They had one full page of appetizers - everything from Thai chicken wings to shrimp tempura. The next page was nothing but soups and salads. And there were still four or five pages to go!
As I got deeper into the menu, it was very apparent that this was a very authentic Thai restaurant. The fresh seafood entrees toward the back of the menu got my attention, but I didn't know if I wanted seafood that evening. They had over 50 entree items on the menu with different variations (beef, chicken, etc.) of nearly each dish. I really wanted to delve deeper into the menu, but it was already 10 until 9 and I didn't want to be keeping them any later than they wanted to be there. When the waitress came back to take my order, I immediately ordered the garlic and pepper beef - stir fried beef in a garlic and pepper sauce and placed upon a bed of cabbage and green onions. A bowl of rice came on the side.
It didn't take long at all for my meal to show up at my table. The strips of beef were tender and plentiful. The garlic pepper sauce was just wonderful. The garlic wasn't overpowering, but was a nice complement to the beef. It was all I could do to finish the beef portion of the meal.
All the time, the waitress kept filling my glass of water and checking on me to make sure I was doing OK. I didn't get the sense she was trying to rush me as much as she was taking a proactive approach in making sure my dining experience was a pleasurable one.
Just before 9 p.m. a guy walked in the door and said, "Are you still open?"
The same lady who came out to greet me said, "Sure, sure! Come in, please. Please sit down!" I immediately figured out that the people at Thai Orchid were overly friendly and over accommodating.
My bill for the garlic and pepper beef with tax came to about $11.75. I gave the waitress a $4.00 tip for being overly attentive.
The food at Thai Orchid was very good, the service was excellent and the staff was very friendly. I don't know how long the place had been open, but they all had their act together from the hostess to the waitress to the cook. When I got back to the hotel, I saw the girl at the front desk. She said, "Did you go to the Thai place?"
I said, "I did and it was very good. You can tell anyone who asks that it's one of finer Thai restaurants in the Midwest."
And it was. And is.