it's already been mentioned on this board, but i can't find the old thread on charley's, so i'm starting a new one, lest my glowing review be lost. as a disclaimer, thai is the kind of food i am most picky about; i lived off it exclusively for six months once, so when i say that charley's is great i say so quite emphatically.
charley's (the menu says "charley thai place") opened recently on the corner of armitage and kedzie, just west of the streetside cafe. i have been there three times, sampled the dishes of everyone accompanying me, and thus far everything has been wonderful. nothing at all was even mediocre; they even changed my mind on curry!
i'll begin with the spicy duck, because that was what i tried first. if anyone has been to ee sane (the best thai restaurant in milwaukee), charley's duck is right on par. spicy enough to make me sweat but not painful; the heat accentuates the flavour of the duck, which blends so nicely with the sauce, instead of one overshadowing the other. the meat was quite tender might i add, with the perfect amount of fat.
an interjection: i've eaten there three times and have yet to try their implementation of my fave thai dish, the dish by which i judge most thai restaurants; laad nar (they call theirs rad na or something close to that). the fact that i've been too excited to try their other dishes and haven't gotten around to laad nar amazes me, speaks quite highly of the restaurant.
the next dish i tried was spicy mint with wide noodles. what a successful balance between cool and heated flavour! i believe it was accompanied by a black bean sauce, which was nice and light; too frequently black bean sauce is mucus-like in consistency. i meant to save half of my spicy mint dish to take in to work for lunch the next day, but ended up eating it all till my belly ached, in a good way.
last night i tried their spinach main dish, which was served with jasmine rice. it wasn't spicy, but i didn't feel the need to add chili sauce to enhance it; the veggies (onions, green and red peppers, spinach) were bursting with enough flavour of their own. my dinner companion ordered red pineapple curry, and though i have never liked curries (they were ruined for me as a child), i thoroughly enjoyed charley's red curry, kept snitching bites off my friend's plate. it's worth noting, too, that they use high-quality tofu and cut it into generous chunks. i won't go back to a restaurant that skimps on tofu.
every time i go by charley's it's empty but the food is great, so i've been telling all my friends to check it out. the interior is a soothing shade of mauvey brown, nicely decorated. it's byob, and they deliver. if you order to pick up, they mean it when they say it'll be ready in ten minutes. and the menu explicitly says no msg is used, period.
normally i'd get into the politics of a thai place opening in that location, the gentrification implied by its presence, etc., but i'll just shut up and tell you guys to go to charley's if you're anywhere near the neighbourhood.
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