“Unassuming” was my first thought as I walked in through the stiff front door of Pinto Garden. Looking inside, the space felt quaint in a homey way. My eyes lingered as they scanned the room. Immediately, I was drawn to exposed brick walls with an inset mirror leaning on a mantle holding classic blue and white pottery with dried flowers. I looked up to see the painted tile ceilings, and then down to note the intimate wooden tables that were paired with darker wooden chairs. There are shelves holding a mixture of mini culinary pots, rabbit statues, frames and other beautiful nick-nacks throughout the restaurant. Walking back, I discovered why the restaurant’s name includes the word “garden”. The darker toned entry dining space leads to a bright white indoor garden. It felt like I was in a Restoration Hardware decorated green house. With a long communal reclaimed wooden table running down the center of the space, immediately I knew I wanted to have more to do with this restaurant in the future. I’d say I’d move into it, but that seems illogical. Hmm. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll host an event there. Ok, this part may sound weird, especially right before I move on to my experiences with their food, but the bathroom is adorable. The rabbit wallpaper, let’s just say, I want it for my bathroom. Super cute!
Sitting down, I was presented with a selection of Chef Teerawong “Yo” Nathavatsiri’s Thai dishes. I came to learn that this homey restaurant was designed in such a way that compliments their elevated take on Thai home cooking. Using locally sourced ingredients from the Union Square Green Market, Chef Yo, who formerly worked in Chef Thomas Keller’s Per Se, creates a beautiful dining experience. Each dish is thoughtfully crafted, and unique from the next. I mean, there’s the Koi Neur a Thai interpretation of steak tartare that is presented as a disk offresh cubed filet mignon mixed with roasted rice, mink kaffir, shallot and topped with a raw quail egg cut in half that cups the yolk, gorgeous, and then there’s the Crab Fried Rice in Young Coconut that is presented as a coconut filled with coconut fried rice and topped with a farm fresh baked egg and jumbo lump crab meat—once I started, I literally could not stop myself from wolfing down the entire dish. Go with friends and eat them like family, family style, that is. You’ll want to try it all, which is good because that is the vibe the Chef Yo is going for. I saw this great quote from Chef Yo that is so on point, especially if you know that he came from an acting background. “I like to imagine I’m the director looking into the culinary world to create a show,” he said. “Chefs, like actors, have to train for their roles. Every day is a rehearsal and when it’s time for dinner service, it’s my time to perform.” So go, enjoy the performance, I did!
UPDATE 3/11/2017: Pinto Garden launches their brunch menu today and it's seriously awesome. Whether sweet or savory, everything you dig your fork into is a win. My personal fave is their Thai take on pancakes the Roti With Banana And Coconut Palm Sugar.