Dave’s Review —
The variety in Asian cuisine and the complexity of ingredients are flourishing in Rhode Island! It is a bold and often daring decision for a restaurateur to invest in a business that will offer unfamiliar tastes and textures to an otherwise naïve palate.
Due to the fact that people generally gravitate to “all things familiar and safe,” (i.e. clothes that make us look thinner, the same office parking spot, supermarkets, gas stations, and of course – restaurant menus) when a change is upon us, we all tend to approach it with trepidation similar to that which my cat experiences when she realizes that I moved the house plant to a different spot in the living room!
We can all remember Chinese restaurants offering Italian bread in take-out orders, and french fries as the menu alternative to white rice. The last time I checked, an authentic Chinese pantry purposefully omitted these starches. The practice of including some familiar with the unfamiliar may have been due to an owner’s concern of losing customers to other local restaurants.
Lemongrass Asian Bistro in Warwick offers a contemporary menu of Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai dishes cooked in healthful manner. The space is modern, bright and artfully designed. The restaurant is divided in two seating areas which include a full sushi bar on one side and a regular bar on the other.
The dishes are skillfully prepared using fresh ingredients, reduced sodium and limited amounts of cooking oil.
Chris’s Review —
What can you say about Pad Thai? It is the Thai version of Bolognese. Every restaurant seems to offer their take on this tasty import. Fine Asian establishments such as the “Cheesecake Factory” love to incorporate it into their Asian section of their menu in order to satisfy the consumer that may enter the gigantic eatery and think “Mmmm, I bet the Pad Thai is delicious here.”
Ok, call me a Pad Thai snob. I’m sorry; but in order to satisfy my insecurities with respect to authenticity, I have to eat Pad Thai from a restaurant that offers multiple Thai-influenced selections. Fortunately, “Lemongrass” in Warwick met the rigid standards that I require to try the tasty dish.
Located on Post Road, Lemongrass offers a multi-Asian mix of Thai, Vietnamese, and Cantonese plus a full Sushi menu to boot. Often, these multi-faceted menus can overwhelm a customer leading to sensory overload. However, in my dining experience I tend to lean-to the Thai or Vietnamese, because I think that these dishes tend to be the most authentic at these types of establishments.
The crew and I made our recommendations and selections. I chose the Vietnamese Beebong with Beef to start which we all shared. Beebong is a rice noodle salad served with thin warm noodles and cool crisp veggies (Cilantro, Napa Cabbage, Bean Sprouts and Mint). A dollop of coconut milk and a peanut dressing finish off the dish. Lemongrass’ version was solid allowing the perfectly cooked noodles and the fresh veggies to shine through. The crunch of the peanuts added a nice contrast to the dish, as well.
For the main course, you guessed it “Pad Thai”. Pad Thai is a dish of stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce, tamarind juice, red chili pepper and usually garnished with bean sprouts crushed peanuts and lime with your choice of meat or tofu. Lemongrass offered all varieties (Beef, Chicken, Pork, Veggie and Seafood, Combination). I chose the combination version of the dish and was not disappointed. Unlike the traditional Pad Thai dishes that I have enjoyed, Lemongrass’ version used a thin rice noodle instead of the typical medium width variety. The balance of flavor that the dish delivered was enough for me to get over the lack of noodle width. The dish was so good that I called my wife and ordered her a take out version of the same dish. After all, she was the one who first introduced me to the dish with her delicious homemade, labor intensive take on the dish twelve years ago. She enjoyed every bite. Lemongrass will see us again!
Scott’s Review —
How many times have you driven by an Asian restaurant: Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, etc., and wondered if it could stand up to your favorite place? There are so many to choose from but like creatures of habit you probably have no more than 4 of these Asian restaurants on your rotation list. As a typical Rhode Islander, traveling out of your comfort zone probably doesn’t happen that much…unless you are a seasoned traveler or a FITR staff member!
A friend of friend, of another friend, tipped us off to the Lemongrass Asian Bistro in Warwick. When a person with Thai roots recommends a Thai restaurant, the advice is not to be taken lightly.
This restaurant is situated in an unassuming mini strip plaza on Rt. 1 just a couple of miles north of T.F. Green Airport in Warwick. The interior is very nicely appointed. Nice flashy bar with large flat screen TV, nice booths and tables. The other side features the sushi bar with more table and booth seating. Again, very modern, tastefully decorated and clean.
Let’s get right down to business…the food! We chose a few Thai and Vietnamese staples along with one sushi roll. I couldn’t resist the sushi. How could one resist a name like the “Ocean State Roll”?
The combination Pad Thai was delicious. What I liked about this dish were the components. How many times have you ordered Pad Thai, or any other Asian dish only to have very small pieces of chicken, pork, meat and shrimp thrown in. Not the case with Lemongrass’s Pad Thai. The shrimp is a very impressive size for the dish – not the canned “salad” size you see many times over. The other proteins were all nicely sized too. The dish came with a generous coating of crushed peanuts for those of you who like lots of peanuts. All of the ingredients made this Thai staple one of the best dishes in our lunch. We agreed it ranked tops in many of the Asian restaurants we have collectively tried over the years.
My choice was the Double Cooked Pork. Anything with “double” in it causes me to take notice. Again – loved the ingredients. No small pieces of pork in this dish -tender chunks of pork in a appetizing dark sauce. The other ingredients: cabbage, peppers and mushrooms were prepared well too. The crunchy cabbage had a nice synergy with all the other fresh ingredients.
A few other notes on my experience with the other dishes:
Beef Bee Bong – Everything worked in it! I really didn’t want to share this dish, but I did manage to keep a low profile on my multiple servings. When a dish is at its end portion, I always like to jump in and say, “Would anyone like any more of this dish?” My translation is actually… “Look, I’m polishing this off – no way is this going in a take-out container so stand clear!” I’m sure my friends are on to my maneuvers.
Nime Chow – I always like to sample this app. Many of you know what it is – in a nut shell it is kind of like an un-fried spring roll. This version included the rice wrapper, bean sprouts, rice noodles, basil and small shrimp served with a clear, light peanut sauce. It was fresh and tasty – on par with many good ones I have had at Thai restaurants.
Green Curry Shrimp – We pulled this out of the Combination Plates section (C28-it had the red chili pepper icon for spicy). The dish had a top rating for appearance. The ingredients (big shrimp, green beans, herb – possibly basil) were also very fresh and delicious, however, the unique green sauce failed to yield the curry flavor. We hope this was an anomaly and we were confident if we had pointed this out to the waitress, she would have made us another portion. We were just having too much fun with the other dishes.
Ocean State Roll – had to order this one as I doubted I would find this out of state. Inside: Alaskan King Crab, avocado, cucumber. Outside: pepper tuna and mango sauce. Presentation and appearance were right up there with many top dedicated sushi houses. All the ingredients were top notch, fresh and it worked very well. I was pleasantly surprised. I am always skeptical of multi-Asian cuisine restaurants pulling off the variety of regional cuisines under one roof. In future visits to Lemongrass I will be sure to dig deeper into the Japanese/sushi offerings.
In closing, I can say with confidence that if you are in the “hood,” dropping off or picking someone up at PVD, pull out and take a right on Rt. 1, drive a couple of miles north where you will find the grass is greener at the Lemongrass Asian Bistro!
Tag’s Review –
We arrived at noonish, and were one of the first customers for a lovely Sunday afternoon delight.
Cambodian, Hunan, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Thai, Shanghai, Singapore! What does all this mean to the American pallet?
In the case of Lemongrass Asian Bistro, it means all around good food, no matter from which region it hales or what you call it.
Let’s take for example the Bee Boong dishes. We chose the Beef Bee Boong this day, and I must tell you, there was no shortage of peanut topping or peanut sauce with this dish. I happen to really like the peanut flavor and crunchiness of the abundance of ground peanuts that came on top of this very generous dish. Now you might say I was already influenced because I like all the peanuts and peanut flavors, and you’re probably right, there was a soft spot for me with this dish. But, looking beyond that, the dish was ‘fresh”, flavorful, “worthy”, but most importantly, delicious.
Moving on to the Pad Thai Noodle Combination dish, for $8.25, take the family and let them have at it! The Noodles were perfectly cooked. “Al Dente” if I might say so myself. Go figure, we’re at an Asian Bistro in Warwick, RI, and the noodles came out as if my mother cooked them on any given Sunday afternoon. I would expect this if we were dining up “The Hill”, but this is Asian Cuisine! Are Asian noodles supposed to be Al Dente?
The Pad Thai Combination dish contained shrimp, chicken, pork, veggies, maybe even the kitchen sink, I’m not sure, nor do I care! It was delicious. And then top this dish with the Ground Peanuts & Sauce, we have a winner!
1138 Post Road Warwick RI 02888-3256
Tag’s Toilet Talk
It goes without being said, that the most wonderful dining experience can become such a so so experience if “the end” is disappointing.
You won’t be disappointed with “the finish” at Lemongrass Asian Bistro. The men’s room was very spacious and very clean. The single stall was equally spacious with a large door to accommodate a wheel chair and had plenty of grab bars around the seat. The seat was elongated for comfort, and had the bonus of the almighty “air power flush”! The double urinals were generously spaced between them so you could stand there without worry of “bumping” into the gent standing next to you. When I went to wash my hands, there was no “over splash” on the counter around the double sinks. Like the urinals, the two sinks had plenty of elbow room between them. The floor around the sink area was also dry and clean. Bathroom Rating: 3.5 out of 5 TP rolls!