I've always enjoyed Orchid Thai on Park Avenue in Winter Park, so I was glad to learn of a new location in Lake Mary. Unfortunately, it's just not the same.
Of course it was bound to be different. The Winter Park restaurant has the ambience of Park Avenue and the lovely outdoor dining. In fact, I couldn't imagine going to the original Orchid Thai and choosing to dine in the small, a bit-too-cramped dining room.
There is no outside dining at the Lake Mary OT. Even if there were it probably wouldn't be very pleasant looking at the parking lot of the strip mall it's located in.
The Lake Mary restaurant's dining room is nice enough. This is the space that was once occupied by Fresh on the Fly. It's been tastefully remodeled, the open kitchen now enclosed, and there are decorative uses of tile, white cloths on the tables, and, of course, the blooms of the restaurant's name, which are used to decorate the tables and the plates.
But the food I sampled on a recent visit did not reach the level that I've had at the original location.
My appetizer of Crispy Orchid Spring Rolls was prettily presented, but there wasn't much substance beyond the flaky wonton rollers. They were advertised as having ground chicken, cabbage, carrot, mushroom and glass noodles, but I'd be hard pressed to have identified any of those ingredients.
All the ingredients in the Panang Curry, including snow peas, bell peppers, and baby corn, were easily identifiable. However, the beef I had selected as the main ingredient was tough. The curry itself was nicely done. Creamy, seasoned with lemongrass and with tiny flecks of red pepper. There wasn't much in the way of peanut flavor to distinguish it from a regular red curry, but I enjoyed spooning it over the jasmine rice.
The meal also included a basic but refreshing salad.
Service was slow for a near-empty restaurant. And I was dismayed to be asked how spicy I wanted my panang to be. Panangs are supposed to be less spicy than other curries; the kitchen should cook them in the traditional manner without asking.
Orchid Thai Lake Mary can't capture the allure of the Park Avenue location, but it can replicate its good food and service. I hope it does soon.
Orchid Thai is at 1210 S. International Parkway, Lake Mary. It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-878-2988.