Last week my eating club went to Blue Elephant, a small upscale Thai joint in Clayton. The atmosphere is excellent - subtle yellow walls, black and white photos neatly framed, clean light wood floors and a small bar. The tables had white cloths, and there was a lit candle at each table. We were greeted pleasantly by a maitre d' who also served as our waiter.
First, appetizers. Potstickers were outstanding - finely ground pork, thin wrapper and soaking in a creamy light peanut sauce. Spring roll (one big one, cut many times) was not one of the best in St. Louis - it was too loose and did not contain enough spice or ingredients to make it worth the price. The crispy spring rolls (small and perfectly sealed) were another story - lots of pepper, and a nice mix of vegetables and pork. Chicken satay was excellent. The peanut sauce served alongside was a bit spicy and the dish came with a cucumber and carrot salad. All the sauces in the dishes were fantastic and the garnishes that accompanied were knock-out!
Then to the bathroom - clean but ICY cold. They need to insulate or get a heater. Also, the lights were garishly bright and the towel dispenser was hung too high. This is a real pet peeve of mine, being a short woman and all.
Then, Entrees. Pad thai, ordered spicy, was disappointingly mild. However, the chicken pieces and the dish in general were great. Kee Mao, which was advertised as hot, was sauteed flat noodles with beef, fresh basil leaves, bean sprouts, carrots and bell peppers in sawaddii secret sauce. It had thick noodles underneath. The diner really enjoyed it, but said it was not too hot. Cashew nut chicken was bell peppers, cashews, onions, carots and scallions in a spicy chili sauce. It was somewhat spicy and the sauce addressed the dish without overwhelming it. Ginger beef was served with a bowl of nice rice. It also included fresh ginger hunks, mushrooms, peppers, scallions, carrots, zucchinis and onions. The taste was almost like a curry and the unadvertised baby corn was "solid". Nam Tok beef contained slices of beef, a wedge of cabbage, lime, chili, peppers, red onions, scallions and crushed roasted rice. Both of the diners who ordered it were impressed with the dish's slow-crawlling heat. After half a plate, the noses were running and the water was being drank. It was a very successful dish.
Throughout dinner, service was pleasant and unobtrusive. The menu is non-threatening, meaning it is not so big as to overwhelm the beginner and gives great descriptions of what the dish incarnates. After some questioning, the maitre d' told us to order the food "dancing man hot" to get enough spice under our tough old palates. Also, you can switch almost any dish to shrimp, beef, chicken, pork or vegetables and even tofu. Prices for food were a little high for Thai, but not in Clayton. Appetizers are in the $3-6 range, curries are $10-13, entrees and specialities run $9-18 and noodles and rice dishes are $7-8. Liquor in all its forms is available. Children were welcomed, at least the very well-behaved ones behind us. Blue Elephant is open for lunch and I would highly recommend it. It also offers daily dinner and Clayton delivery.