Saturday, July 13, 2013

Too Much Green for Papaya?

Decided to have an adventure for dinner and a date with my wife on Saturday evening.  We took OC Transpo's Route 8 over the old city of Hull and disembarked in front of the Canadian Museum of Civilization.   Across the street was the Green Papaya (69 Rue Laurier, Gatineau). 

We arrived at 4:55 P.M. to find the front doors locked and a group of three sitting out front waiting.  A quick look at the hours of operation noted the restaurant would open in five minutes.  

We waited the five minutes.  Watched as one of the employees ventured out onto the patio to hang some decorations and fine tune some tables for what appeared to be a private party.  The minutes ticked by.  5:01 arrived and nothing.  Not even a sign of movement toward the door, no sign the restaurant was closed for a private function.  We waited until 5:05 and still nothing.  We decided to take a five minute stroll down the street to check out the shops on Rue Laurier and return for one last attempt. 

Upon our return the restaurant was open.  We entered and stopped when we reached the restaurant.  Do we wait here to be seated? Do we wait for someone to seat us?  What to do?  No worries, a server stopped by, welcomed us and showed us to the intricately designed dining room.  

Decor of this restaurant reminded me of a tastefully decorated with chandeliers and a hint of Asian themed plants.  Nice touch to the tables with high end table cloths and place mats. 

Our waitress stopped by dressed in traditional red Asian robes and greeted us in both English and French.  One of the interesting things about dining on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river is the noticeable ease at which restaurant wait staff offer up French first but also reassuringly offering English second.  Only some wait staff on the Ontario side of the border do this.  This is probably mainly to do with the requirement under Quebec provincial language laws to serve customers in French.  But, so as not to make tourists unwelcome, wait staff also offer up English. 

The menus were different from the sister restaurant, Thai Garden, which at the time was fine with us.  However, upon further review of the Green Paya's website, the menu was not posted only the Thai Garden was.  The main difference is the Green Papaya's menu had less Pad Thai dishes than the Thai Garden.  As well noticeably different was the pricing.  The Green Papaya's was a dollar more in the hard copy menu than what was posted on the website for the same dish!

The Order: 1 Beef Pad Thai with Rice Noodles and 1 Shrimp Pad Thai with Rice Noodles.  

The dishes were brought out within ten minutes of ordering and well laid out just like at the Thai Garden.  The first noticeable thing though, the plates were smaller.  Not only does the Green Papaya charge a dollar more per plate but they also give you a smaller portion of food.  Same exact Pad Thai (Beef Pad Thai) but smaller portions.  

Taste wise the Beef Pad Thai was delicious.  No qualms with preparation of the Pad Thai itself.  The decorative vegetable side I even tried.  The raw carrot was deliciously fresh and so were the other vegetables.   My wife enjoyed her Shrimp Pad Thai without any complaints.  

The food at both Thai Garden and Green Papaya tasted as if they were mirror images of each other.  This can be trouble sometimes especially in larger chain restaurants where the may be some deviations from the main menu.  But at the Green Papaya / Thai Garden small chain of four locations, this has not been an issue with all the restaurant's same Pad Thai dishes tasting the same, and more importantly, delicious!

Overall,   the Green Papaya provides well prepared traditional Thai dishes in a market looking for authentic Asian cuisine.  Sure the Ottawa area has lots of Vietnamese Pho places, but it is lacking in traditional Chinese and Thai cooking.  The Green Papaya fills the void of the traditional Thai cuisine Ottawa lacks.  Pricing to portion size though needs to be investigated.  How can the Green Papaya location in downtown Hull be more expensive and smaller portion than the downtown Ottawa Thai Garden location?  That is a question I would love to have an answer too. 

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