The Road, No. 16: Siam Cafe [Eating Our Way Down Nolensville Pike]

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Better living through curry.
  • Better living through curry.
Welcome to The Road, my column in which I'm going to attempt — key word: attempt — to eat at every non-chain restaurant on Nolensville Pike between I-440 and the county line. I'll readily admit that even though I live right off Nolensville — Paragon Mills represent! — and revel in the diversity and quantity of its eateries, I have barely scratched the surface of what the strip has to offer. But now I'm going to rectify that, and hopefully you'll join for what's likely to be a wild ride.

Episode 16: Siam Cafe
Address: 316 McCall St.
Phone: 834-3181

So if I can get a little inside baseball with y'all — I'm saving a lot of the reviews of better-known restaurants on Nolensville for special occasions and/or emergency situations. I want have a few aces up my sleeve for the weeks when I don't feel like going on a culinary adventure or don't have the abilities to go on said adventure. And this is one of those weeks — I was in charge of inventorying ALL the booze at the With Your Friends festival last weekend, and spent a couple of cold wet days inside cold wet beer trailers. Now I am sick and so is my wife — which is the perfect time for take-out from Siam!

Siam Cafe is a legend, an institution, a staple of Nolensville Pike. They've been around forever — the wood-paneled dining room is as much a time machine as it is a place to eat — and they've got a reputation for some of the best Thai food in the city, which is well deserved. Frankly, I've been holding off getting my Thai fix from Siam for months, as I knew one day I was going to need it in a pinch. And good lord did I need it — some high quality Thai is the best relief from sinus pressure. I'm a firm believer that food is medicine. So what if I've still got immense sinus pressure when the warm glow of a curry in my belly made everything better?

My one big regret about this trip to Siam was that I didn't go for the cafeteria-style option — it's one of the best deals in Nashville, and the fact that they were hopping with customers mere moments after opening means you know the food is killer. I really wanted to just chill out, gorge myself and be done with it, but I had a sick wife at home on the couch, and she was expecting soup. And it was our anniversary, so I would have been up Shit Creek if I had ditched the take-out for a solitary trip to the cafeteria counter. But damn, even to a guy who could barely use his nostrils, that lunch line smelled amazing.

As for our food? Top-notch and exactly what the doctor ordered. We split a large order of tom kha khai — the chicken/coconut milk soup with lemongrass, lime juice and chili paste cleared our heads better than an entire box of Theraflu — and an order of hung ray curry, which had just enough ginger and heat to cut through the cold. As for the other food on the menu, it's been a little while since I was a semi-regular but I can endorse pretty much everything I've had out of their kitchen. I think once there was something that wasn't mind-blowing, but I can't remember what it was, so it doesn't really matter, does it? Needless to say, Siam Cafe lives up to the hype, goes beyond the hype and is way better than a trip to Walgreens to load up on NyQuil and Kleenex.

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