Out to Lunch: Sleek and chic spot for chiliheads

Written by on April 25, 2012 in Baltimore Bites, Blogs, Featured - No comments

Some of the dishes are hot stuff.

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Red Parrot Asian Bistro, which opened a few weeks ago at McHenry Row, is a true pan-Asian restaurant, offering a tour of the East that includes India, Pakistan, China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. There’s quite a bit of American on the menu too, in case you brought the kids or a cousin from Kansas. Think of Red Parrot as the Alice’s Restaurant of Asian eateries—you can get anything you want.

Red Parrot is careful to separate itself from the usual Chinese/Thai/whatever joint in Baltimore. Red Parrot is sleek and expensive. The dining room is a bit like a meditation garden, with sleek, spare furnishings, paper lanterns, a stone mural on the far wall and a bamboo screen between the rows of booths. It is beautifully laid out, relaxing and luxurious. And while it offers carryout, it does so discreetly.

And then there is the wine list, which offers top-shelf bottles from France and California, mixed in with a few Asian exotics. And the cocktails, served in a super-sleek bar area, are quite special. Ever had an Asian pear-tini? Or a lychee-tini? You can here. Or you can get the classic Mai Tai or Singapore Sling.

In short, Red Parrot is a place you can take a date, or do a business lunch, or simply treat yourself. You will be well cared for and you can try some things you might never have tried before.

We stopped by for lunch. The lunch specials, which come with a choice of hot and sour, miso, egg drop or wonton soup, or a nice little salad with a ginger vinaigrette dressing, are priced from $10.95 to $14.95. There are many specials listed from all regions.

We tried the Thai drunken noodles ($10.95 with beef), which are wide flat noodles tossed with red wine and sake (hence the “drunken” in the name), vegetables and peppers. It was spicy, enough to make you notice, but not enough for you to start grabbing water glasses from the other tables. The noodles are sticky enough to hold a lot of sauce, and the vegetables—onions and multicolored bell peppers—were cooked close to that legendary and unattainable “tender-crisp” stage. The drunken noodles are a hit.

Be aware if there is one of those little chili pepper icons next to the item you are ordering, prepare for significant heat. The Bangkok Spicy Flat Noodles ($12.95 with chicken) are indeed very spicy and very good. There were more wide flat rice noodles tossed with chicken, bell peppers, onions and baby corn, and a whole lot of Thai red curry. There is a little sweet before the heat. It’s delicious, and your tastebuds will keep tingling long after the last bite.

Service was friendly and attentive, and our kind waitress kept the water glasses topped up.

After signing the credit card slip (which came to $30.64 including tax but not the tip) we still had that hot chili feeling, so we wandered across the street to Yogi Castle to cool off. There you can make yourself a pour-your-own, mix-your-own frozen yogurt sundae with toppings ranging from sprinkles and jimmies through Cap’n Crunch and granola. The sundaes ring up for 49 cents an ounce, so prices vary. I tried a mixed coconut and dulce de leche, and Mary Helen had cake batter. Yogi Castle would be a great place for a kids’ birthday party.

McHenry Row is off Key Highway near the I-95 bridge. Businesses are open daily.

by Jacqueline Watts

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