The new Bangkok Café at 119 Main Street, opened earlier this month by Nawin Chainam, will benefit from experience gleaned at his other Thai restaurant in Poughkeepsie: Lemongrass Thai at 25 Lagrange Avenue. And just to keep things straight, there is no connection between that Lemongrass Thai restaurant and New Paltz’s Lemongrass Thai restaurant located several doors up from the Bangkok Café; each has different owners.
Chainam says that after three-and-a-half years, he is leaving the Poughkeepsie restaurant in the capable hands of his brother and will concentrate all of his energies on the Bangkok Café in New Paltz, where he also happens to live. “There’s always something going on here,” he says when asked why he opened a restaurant in New Paltz. “It’s always busy.”
The contemporary interior of the Bangkok Café is stylish, light-filled and airy in the daytime, decorated with an Asian aesthetic crossed with an urban sensibility. There are several tables in the window with low seating. The dining room seats 75; the bar ten. Behind the bar is a collection of colorful glass bottles lit artfully for effect. The restaurant will offer beer, wine and saké from Southeast Asia along with specialty cocktails at the full bar.
But Chainam says the focus will be more on the food at the Bangkok Café; he’s not aiming to have a late-night bar crowd and is more interested in offering healthy beverages and smoothies to accompany his Thai specialties.
The special drinks touted for their health benefits include many that evolved from the need to quench thirst effectively in the hot weather of Thailand, says Chainam. A Kek Huy made from chrysanthemum flowers tastes pleasantly nutlike, and the Nam Ka Jeab, made with roselle flowers and purported to be anti-aging, is made in batches in the morning and sells out daily, he says. Smoothies include an apple sherbet variety and one made with strawberries.
The curry dishes are popular, says Chainam, as is the pineapple fried rice, and the café offers more than 15 entree salads. The Esan combo features chicken satay and beef along with a peanut salad, white rice and two dipping sauces.
The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner will be served seven days a week, but the café will close every day from 3-4 p.m. in order to prep all of the fresh vegetables used for dinner service. Nothing is ever frozen, says Chainam, and he wants his customers to feel the texture and crunch of a fresh vegetable in his dishes.
More information is available on Facebook at “Bangkok Café New Paltz” or by calling (845) 255-1026.