Cold winter days call for cozy dining, and that’s exactly what Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine provides.
Dine on hot, spicy dishes at the restaurant’s tables covered in bright green and yellow embroidered tablecloths or place an order to take out.
Only a few diners were at Lemon Grass on the afternoon my husband and I stopped in, but calls for takeout came in several times over the phone.
The menu above the counter offers a large number of dishes, including several different curries and fish dishes.
We started with potstickers filled with ground pork and mixed vegetables ($7.99). The order included seven salty and savory potstickers served with orange plum sauce. My experience with Thai dumplings is that the outer layers are often soft and sometimes soggy. These were crispy, with soft steamy insides that provided perfect contrast.
I chose the pad Korat with chicken ($12.99). The serving size wasn’t too large, and it was served with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice on the side. Green beans, chili paste, coconut milk, jalapeños, green bell peppers, kaffir lime and grachai were all mixed together on the plate. The coconut milk diffused some of the spiciness, but some of the jalapeños still had the seeds, adding a strong kick to the palate. The bell peppers were crunchy and refreshing, and absorbed a tiny bit of the heat as well. The rice also helped absorb some of the heat.
Whenever my tongue got hold of grachai, however, I was delighted at the strangely fresh flavor and palate cleanser. Grachai is a Thai herb sometimes referred to as a lesser ginger. The resemblance to ginger is unmistakable, but grachai has a taste all its own.
Creamy coconut milk dishes are a staple in Thai cuisine, and the pad Korat is a great middle ground between a stir fry dish and curry.
We also ordered pad mushroom with tofu ($10.99). Jalapeños also make an appearance in this dish, as well as red onions, green onions and white jasmine rice. The green onions made the dish unbelievably fresh. The tofu was cooked until it was at an ideal crispy texture, making it more springy than soft. The ingredients were mixed in a sweet and savory sauce that brought out subtle soy flavors. Since this is a dish on the lunch menu, it was served with a single, buttery and warm egg roll. The steamed cabbage, carrots, and glass noodles inside carried the crunchy texture until the very last bite.
A small cup of mixed vegetable soup was served before the pad mushroom. The broth was lightly salted and it consisted mostly of cabbage. Usually these small soups served before a meal are bland and contain a few questionable ingredients. This one is not bland at all.
Lemon Grass’s spicy scale is one to five, five being the spiciest. Our server wasn’t sure we’d be able to manage the third level. However, Thai food thrives on the type of spiciness that tickles the back of your throat but doesn’t make it impossible to eat your meal. Compared to other Thai restaurants in the Rogue Valley, Lemon Grass’s spicy meter should be taken a little more seriously than others. We appreciated our waitress’s warnings, but were also delighted by the spiciness of our dishes.
The lunch portions at Lemon Grass are ideal. Even though the pad Korat wasn’t on the lunch menu, the portion left me feeling sated but not as if I’d overeaten.
Lemon Grass serves a creamy Thai iced tea with coconut milk ($3.50), hot tea ($1), and a selection of sodas. A few beer options also are available in a case behind the counter. Like most Thai establishments, the menu was vast and the prices reasonable, making it hard to choose a dish. However, that simply means we will have to return and try the others.
Lemon Grass is at 2366 W. Main St., Medford. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Find the menu at http://places.singleplatform.com/lemon-grass-thai-cuisine-6/menu. For takeout, call 541-779-8424.
Reach freelancer writer Jordan Marie McCaw at firstname.lastname@example.org.