Lemon Grass Restaurant

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212 Fourth Ave. W.
Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 705-1832

Credit Cards Accepted, Full Bar, Vegetarian-Friendly
Avg. Meal:

The Review

Reviewed by: Jake and Jason de Paul

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ANNOUNCER: It seems that in Olympia Thai restaurants are as plentiful as Circle K convenience stores in California. There’s one on every corner. To be the prettiest girl in a room full of beauty queens, if you will, demands quality, superb flavor, speedy preparation, and, above all, consistency.  Lemon Grass Restaurant, which offers a Vietnamese take on Thai, doubled in size in late 2008. Even with this much applauded expansion into the adjacent Fourth Avenue space, patrons frequently fill the compact front waiting area and monopolize the sidewalk. Is the hype worth the breath it’s said with? The brothers bear witness.

JAKE: Man, I could smell this place a block away. Curry has an amazingly distinct scent. I wished we’d made a reservation though; we ended up waiting 20 minutes for a table.

JASON: Holy chicken wings, Batman! And I’m talking Christian Bale not George Clooney. Meaty, punchy and done right. King’s chicken wing appetizer hit the table just eight minutes after we ordered even though the place was packed. Piping hot, slightly crispy breaded skin, moist throughout and evenly covered in a tangy honey garlic glaze, the wings swam with pineapple chunks, julienned carrots, and fresh cilantro sprigs. Sharing the shrimp and mango salad was right on. We each ate half. Shredded purple cabbage, tomatoes, thin cucumber discs, more julienned carrots, red and green onion — those fresh tastes topped with six half-dollar size, fat shrimp played nicely against cold mango pieces. So thankful they weren’t overcooked. A tiny bit of lettuce, sesame seeds, cilantro, and sweet vinegar dressing finished the dish. That’s my kind of salad.

JAKE: Actually, Dessert Eater, your wife said the gym sent you a text; it misses you. The heat factor seemed off. Even four stars was only mildly spicy. Where’s a bottle of sriracha when you really need it? The curried apple entrée was more sweet than hot. I opted for tender chicken instead of prawns, pork, beef, or tofu to go with soft, bite-size pieces of green and red apple, pineapple, and white onion. Potatoes seemed out of place, but it worked. Roasted peanuts were a great surprise. Lightly sticky rice made a perfect bed.

JASON: I liked that dish. I think Lemon Grass is popular due to its decently fair prices. Entrees top out at a $14 average. Oh, and good food is obviously a factor. Not “to die for” as I’ve heard people say, but price can be influential on overall perception. We had to wait for seating each time we’ve been in and listen to many loud conversations of other patrons. There’s nothing about the two wide open rooms that comprise the restaurant that says “intimate dining.” The 40 or so tables have barely enough room between them to lend a feeling of adequate personal space. If I lived in Olympia, this would be my regular take-out joint.

JAKE: Because it was highly recommended, I took the Eurasian fried rice for a spin on a lunch visit. What a variety of ingredients — black olives, green peas, cashews, pineapple, carrots, and onions sounded interesting. Stir-fry it all up with rice, water chestnuts, eggs, and tomato sauce. That’s when I shook my head and said “seriously?” about five times. Enormously relieved, I can report the East/West dish rocked, rolled and took home a Grammy.

JASON: I liked the hard licks. That’s hard alcohol to all you Mormons out there. It seems a lot of non-franchise restaurants have beer and wine only, and I do like a good citrusy ginger martini.

Hours: 11a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday (open till 9 p.m. Friday), noon-9 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday
Scene: Casual, family friendly


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