Lunch yesterday at Erawan. 1 pm and the place was empty. Completely empty. But we'll be back, I guarantee! In a word, the food was excellent, the presentations exquisite (they have some of the loveliest china I have ever seen), and the room(s) are truly lovely. Under the circumstances, service was not an issue and we were well taken care of.
Started with the highly regarded "snow birds"; these signature appetizers are dumplings made with jasmine rice and filled with minced chicken and herbs. Each dumpling is designed to resemble a tiny bird, complete with black sesame-seed eyes and a carrot mouth. But the proof is in the pudding (so to speak) and the dumplings were excellent. I had the whole red snapper with a combination pepper sauce and my companion chose the prix-fixe three-course lunch. Of a half-dozen entree choices, he went with the green chili. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the sauces accompanying each plate. Without exception, superb.
There is a surprisingly comprehensive wine list, including a nice selection by the glass. I opted for tea and was taken aback to be presented with a tea box and selection of about a dozen teas.
I cannot ignore the fact that the place is pricey--entrees can run into the $30s (though reasonably-priced ones are definitely available). But I can say that I consider the prices reasonable considering the surroundings, the service, and the superb food. I have no doubt in my mind: I will be back, and soon!
Erawan Thai Cuisine
729 N Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60610