With Bloomfield’s Restaurant Week only two weeks away, restaurants all over towns are gearing up for what promises to be a 2012 highlight for the township. From March 4-10, twenty-four restaurants will be offering special prix fixe menus and samplings of their very best cuisine to patrons from all over Essex County.
Previewing the event, Bloomfield Patch will be publishing profiles of participating restaurants. Rogee Cao, who co-owns Spice Thai Cuisine along with Rich Rickwell, sat down recently and spoke with Patch about plans for Restaurant Week.
SPICE THAI CUISINE: 26 Belleville Avenue (near the A&P supermarket.)
A small and intimate restaurant featuring warm, cozy and richly colorful decor. The charming neighborhood feeling to the place is enhanced by exotic touches like pillowed window seats and handmade Eastern-inspired art.
The restaurant's well-known $8 lunch specials will be replaced by an expanded menu from March 4-10, in honor of Restaurant Week.
"We’ll be offering a 3-course $12.95 lunch special and a 4-course $29.95 per person dinner special,” said Cao, "with three of my most popular appetizers, entrees and desserts."
The 3-course lunch special will include a choice of three appetizers: Duck roll (deep fried duck rolled with cucumber, scallions and cilantro with hoisin sauce), curry puffs (potato and opinion curry filling with a cucumber dipping sauce) or steamed mussles with Thai herbs.
The choice of three lunch entrées includes: Beef Randang (tender beef Massaman with curry, peanuts, potatoes, onions and coconut milk), Gai Mai Muang (stir-fried crispy chicken with cashews, oinions, scallions, red pepper and oyster sauce) or Mango Salad.
The choice of desserts includes fried ice cream, sweet sticky rice with mango or Bangkok Delight, a rice pudding cooked in coconut milk with jackfruit, plantains and purple yam ice cream.
The 4-course dinner special expands the lunch menu, with the addition of seafood offerings. Flavorful dishes like Green Curry Tilapia with coconut milk, or shrimp, calamari and mussels in spicy basil sauce with crispy basil leaves will be served, along with Beef Randang or crispy duck with a choice of sauces.
One of Spice Thai's most popular mainstays will be offered on the Restaurant Week menu, the Appetizer for Two. Featuring two spring rolls, two curry puffs, two coconut shrimp, two chicken satay skewers and two chicken dumplings, this generous dish is an excellent way to sample some of Thai Chef's tastiest favorites.
About the owner: Cao graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. He lived in Manhattan for thirty years, working on Wall Street before moving to Bloomfield and opening Spice Thai Cuisine.
What is it like owning a restaurant in Bloomfield?
It's important to invest time and money in a business. I buy my meat from a local butcher (R. Violante and Sons) because I believe in supporting local business. I remember customers' names. People begin to recognize you're serving good food. They come back from word-of-mouth. I have very loyal customers.
Best thing about Spice Thai: "It's as comfortable as my own home. When you go into a restauarnt and see fresh flowers on the table, you know the place is being well cared for."
What people may not know about Spice Thai: "There's a misconception that Thai food is really spicy. We cook it to your taste. We can make it as mild or spicy as you want."
Thoughts on Restaurant Week? "It's about time for us to showcase the variety of cuisines we offer here. I hope people will come out for Restaurant Week because this is a good way to support businesses in Bloomfield."
Why go to Spice Thai? "[When developing my menu] I started thinking, 'What is comfort food?' So I prepare my dishes with food that makes people happy. Why not come to Spice Thai and have some comfort Thai food?"
Spice Thai Cuisine