After a big dip into the mainstream with my little snapshot of Smoke’s Poutinerie, I thought why not turn the dial ALL THE WAY to the other extreme and visit what I deem to be the most obscure and random restaurant visit I have ever had (and probably ever will, for the foreseeable future) in Canada.
I visited a Thai restaurant. In a small business complex. With no discernable signage. In the shadows of a hilly incline. In freakin’ Campbellville. WIN.
And just where is Campbellville? It’s a small-ish town several kilometers west from Milton, which in itself is several kilometers west of Mississauga, which in turn is several kilometers west of Toronto. Ta-dah!
We were heading back from out annual around-Ontario Christmas trip and decided we wanted to pull in into a random small town. Driving on the 401, Campbellville seemed like such a location. We’ve been almost everywhere visiting small towns in Ontario but even we haven’t heard of this place before.
The town turned out not to be much. A small main street covered in snow, with another road that curves up into somewhat of a hill, also covered in snow. But somewhere along that snowy drive, we saw a sign (facing the OTHER traffic direction, mind) that said there was a Thai restaurant located right “there”. “There” would mean we’d have to do a 180 turn and back down the hill slope and literally make a 90 degree turn into a small business complex that is practically leaning by the base of the cliffs, almost completely obscured from the main road.
Oh, and did I mention the restaurant had no prominent signage in front of its doors? I guarantee you that unless you live around the area, you won’t be able to find this place without a map. We had to take the time to sit down and look at our menu until we discerned what the name of the restaurant was: Thai House Cuisine (4). Why the 4? More on that later. And yes, it is what you think.
The restaurant was surprisingly very spacious in the inside. It was quiet, that’s for sure, given the weather and time of day (lunchtime just started…and it’s a Sunday). But everything was bright and cheerful without going over-the-top tacky with Thai decorations, as I know many restaurants are wont to do. They even have a second floor for special functions, and I briefly considered having my wedding dinner here, but decided not to out of fear of having pineapples thrown in my fact by frustrated guests who’ll probably spend an hour just trying to find the place.
The server, a charming late 30-ish lady from Thailand dressed in traditional Thai garb (what must she think of all this snow I wonder), was very friendly and told us that most of her clientele came either from Campbellville itself or sometimes from neighbouring Milton and Guelph. It turns out this is the 4th location (see?) of the Thai House Cuisine chain. The first one is in Toronto, the second one in Mississauga, third in Milton, and the fourth one here. CLEARLY there is a trend in opening each successive restaurant in progressively smaller towns. If this trend continues, the fifth restaurant will open in my basement. Still, she was very upbeat about the future prospects of this place and to be fair, it looked very well kept on the inside.
Curiosities piqued and bellies empty (and body COLD), we thought why the hell not? We then proceeded to try out their highlighted lunch specials. I personally got the spicy beef, while my parents had their green chicken curry.
The food came within a reasonable time and we greedily started poking into it. The lunch specials came with soup and spring roll, which were OK (par for the course) and were enough to whet our appetites. So I started to dig into the food and….was promptly disappointed. The seasonings were tasty enough, but the spice lacked a bit of kick and the sauce was a bit on the dry side (i.e. there’s not enough of it). Normally I wouldn’t mind that if the main meat dish was tender, but the beef was pretty dry and thin. There’s no juiciness in the meat at all and a little more sauce would’ve at least compensated for that. The vegetables around the beef were also a little overpowering: classic case of too much vegetables surrounding too little beef. Though, given how dry the beef was, this was probably not a bad thing.
My parents green curry were a little bit better, but it’s also par for the course compared to many other Thai restaurants. There was a nice richness to the curry itself, and the chicken was far more tender than the beef (thank God). However, there was nothing that made it stand out more than any other Thai places that seemingly number in the thousands in Toronto or, indeed, Mississauga. So in that aspect it was lacklustre.
Overall, novelty and interesting find aside, this is one place I won’t recommend. It’s not awful by any stretch of the imagination, and I concede that the dinner a la carte options may be crafted with more care than the cheaper lunch specials, but I’ve been to many more Thai places with much better cheap lunch options than this. An OK option if you find yourself somehow in Campbellville (and what the hell are you doing there anyway?) as it’s acceptable. But in the general scheme of things it was a letdown. It’s too bad as I really, really wanted to like this place.
And I actually did. But unfortunately it was for everything but the food.
–Final verdict: Jangan Makan!
Thai House Cuisine (4)
43 Main Street South, Unit 3B
Campbellville, ON L0P 1B0