Driving over the bridge into West Salem, headed to the new Thai Beer in the old Pastamichi building, I just hoped that they had either fixed that awful flashing sign out front or replace it altogether. The sign seems to be symbolic of the property at the west end of the bridge that has housed at least three restaurants in the past five years. Lights flicker instead of flash as burned out bulbs remain unchanged on a sign that was designed, a few decades back, to attract your attention. The building is the same way. Cornered in a highly visible intersection, greeting travelers and residents as they drive into the Polk County portion of the capitol city. This place was probably built awhile back, long before anyone had even heard of Starbucks coffee. I can almost imagine it as a high school hang out back in the day. Poodle skirts and ice cream milk shakes after the friday football game. Now it's been taken over by a local Thai restaurant trying to expand it's market share. The sign has been updated with the new name but the surronding bulbs still blink erratically. Inside, the decor is a mismatched set of chairs and booths set out over a checkered tile floor that was hip two occupants ago when the place was a diner. They added an aquarium and maybe some paint but the walls are bare as if they are still in the process of moving in. Even with all this, the place is popular. Crowds show up because they have an excellent reputation from their SE restaurant along Lancaster and their reasonably priced food is reasonably good. We ordered Tom Yum soup with chicken $9.50, Pad Thai with chicken, $9.95, and Pad Eggplant with chicken $9.95. The soup was savory, the Thai, tasteful and the eggplant oozed with a flavorful broth that needed to be scooped up and poured over the rice to perfect this wonderful meal. There was plenty left over for leftovers and this food isn't easily forgotten in the refrigerator. The aroma seeping out of take out boxes wafts out of the ice box as you open the door the next day. Overall, I think that the expansion of Thai Beer is a good thing for dining in Salem. The location out on Lancaster somehow seems very far away. This restaurant needs improvements on things that can easily be improved with a little money and a decorators touch. The food is what will keep people coming back and the hardworking staff will be welcomed by the West Salem locals.
101 Wallace Rd. NW