Blue Orchid: A Fantastic Choice for Any Occasion

29 03 2008

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On Friday night, Mr. & Mrs. Wisco went to the Blue Orchid, along with some friends from work. The Blue Orchid is in the old Federal Place building, at 129 N. 10th Street. It’s a bit of a maze getting to the restaurant from the parking lot, walking through the building. One can also enter on the 10th Street side, although there isn’t a sign indicating so. It has a small parking lot, and if you’re lucky, you might get one of the 15-20 parking spaces. If not, it’s easy to park in one of the city parking lots within 2-3 blocks of the restaurant.

We’ve been to the Blue Orchid before, and always had great food, so we had high expectations. It is our favorite Thai restaurant in Lincoln, and last night’s dinner didn’t fail to live up to expectations. The food really isn’t a classic type of Thai cuisine that one finds at most Thai restaurants. The Blue Orchid uses some unique combinations of flavors that blend traditional Thai with modern cuisine.

For those who haven’t been to the Blue Orchid, the owners really did a great job with the décor. It’s very modern looking, with Asian-inspired artwork (for example, bamboo). It has white tablecloths with white butcher’s paper, so it’s not as fancy of a place as it might appear. The bathrooms are very clean, and have the modern décor of the rest of the restaurant.

We made a reservation for 7:00, since we were a group of 5. We arrived a little early, so we were ready to wait if necessary. The restaurant was busy, and almost every table was full. But, they led us right to our table. Our server (Charlie, per the ticket) promptly greeted us and asked if we wanted anything to drink. The Blue Orchid has a fantastic drink menu. They have a number of wines available, with a small selection for any type of wine. They also have many unique cocktails, such as a ginger mojito. We’ve tried those on other trips, but this time we decided to share a bottle of wine, and chose the Rex Hill Pinot Noir from Oregon. It was excellent!

Now we had to make some choices for food. Most of the entrees are between $8 and $15, with the classic curry and stir-fry dishes close to $10, and the seafood dishes closer to $15. Mr. Wisco had the Pad Thai with chicken. Mrs. Wisco ordered the special for the evening, which was a Seafood and Eggplant stir-fry. The food arrived reasonably quickly (we didn’t time it, but it didn’t seem like we were waiting long). All of the dishes come with a side of steamed rice, but other additions such as soup or salad need to be ordered separately. In a nutshell, the food was excellent! Mrs. Wisco thoroughly enjoyed her seafood dish. The shrimp, scallops, and mussels were tender and perfectly done (seafood is often overcooked, especially at a busy restaurant). The sauce was delicious. Mr. Wisco loved his Pad Thai. When ordering it, one has the option to add chicken, beef, pork, or extra tofu for $3. He went with chicken, since it’s more of a classic choice for Pad Thai. The noodles were cooked perfectly, and were covered in a tasty homemade peanut sauce along with regular accompaniments like bean sprouts, tofu, eggs, and a fresh sliced lime on the side. Pad Thai is generally fairly mild, and the server brought some chili paste to add on request. On previous trips, Mrs. Wisco has ordered some of the other curry dishes, such as some of the garlic/ginger/peppercorn choices. Those have all been excellent.

We decided to share a dessert and some coffee. The dessert choices all looked excellent. One that we didn’t try, but is a favorite of Mrs. Wisco’s, is sticky rice and mango. We’ll try it next time. Mr. Wisco chose a White Chocolate Icing and Strawberry Shortcake, while our friends chose a chocolate cake served with Ivanna Cone ice cream. The Strawberry cake was more of a classic cake with layers and icing in between. It was served with sliced strawberries on top. The desserts are large, so it’s easy to share one with 2-3 people.

The service was excellent throughout the night. Our server (Charlie) was quick to refill water before we needed it, and was gracious about splitting the bill into two separate checks. He provided good advice, and didn’t have a scripted style to his interactions with us. The food is excellent, and it’s very reasonably priced for the high quality. For 2 dinners (one with seafood), 2 coffees, and 1 dessert, the bill was about $40. Our bottle of wine cost $36, which falls in the middle of the range of wine prices at the Blue Orchid.

Overall, we see the Blue Orchid as a good choice for all types of occasions. The service is excellent, the food is fantastic, and it’s reasonably priced for the quality of the food and the dining experience.

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4 responses

6 04 2008
Swoof

I need to get to Blue Orchid again. I haven’t been in 18 months or so and it’s still open. That’s a good sign for any local independent restaurant.

My old co-blogger hated it if you’ve gone back in the archives at all but I haven’t had any awesome experiences there myself. Maybe I just order the wrong things but I’ve had way better Thai food at better prices in rural Vermont and downtown Milwaukee.

It’s on my list.

p.s. Rex Hill pinot is a great red for Thai food.

24 04 2008
Sarah

I’ve been to Blue Orchid a couple times in the last year and have found that they’ve made VAST improvements since when they were first open, in quality of both service and food. Last summer I went there with a very large party and they gave us amazing service. The worst part was riding my bike home in the hot sun with a belly full of Thai Basil and sake bombs.

Totally. Worth. It.

8 05 2008
Andrew

I will only get me food to-go from the Blue Orchid after almost six months of bi-weekly poor service. I’ll never forget last valentines day (2007) when we were seated and sat there for 40 minutes without even getting water poured in our glasses until we finally stopped a server and asked if we could get some water and order food.

Another time (my girlfriends birthday), we were seated and were given our water and eventually received our food, an hour after ordering it, and it was cold.

These are just two of the more outrageous times we ate there, but i’ve eaten there maybe 20 or 30 times ( I love thai food), and only one time did I leave thinking the service was good. I will only get my orders to-go from this place.

Thai House on 27th and Vine has way better pad thai, and is much cheaper.

9 07 2008
Jen

It’s so funny that you think the blue orchid is the best in Lincoln when I’ve found that I think it is the worst. I’ve been there several time and each time their food is bland or sickly sweet. And overpriced. i love the the thai garden and then the thai house (only with the right dinners there though). Although not as fancy way better service and food!

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