In early July, Niki Pattharakositkul debuted 26 Thai Kitchen & Bar in Lindbergh Center , in the space formerly occupied by The Firkin and Lindbergh Pub.
Why 26 Thai?
“Because I was 26 when I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of opening my own restaurant,” Pattharakositkul said. “When people would ask me what I wanted to do, I always knew exactly what I wanted to do.”
Sitting at a table at her restaurant last week, Pattharakositkul, who is a 2012 Georgia State University grad, talked about growing up in Thailand, and learning traditional recipes and cooking techniques from her family.
“I would say what makes Thai food a little different is that we use a lot of fresh ingredients and herbs,” Pattharakositkul said. “And we use spices and things like ginger and Thai chili. When we say spicy, it’s not just spicy. There’s more. We have heat and sweet and sour.”
Some of those basic flavors and dishes, like Pad Thai, can be found at her family’s Thai restaurant, Wild Ginger, in Chamblee.
But at 26 Thai, Pattharakositkul is offering much more of a stylishly casual fine dining experience, with a decorative contemporary design, and a full bar serving wine and specialty cocktails.
And dishes such as butterfly shrimp served with crispy rice noodles, battered Maine lobster in Thai green curry sauce, or grilled Chilean Sea Bass filet in sweet and sour sauce, come artfully plated and presented.
“We changed the colors and the look to make it more modern and at the same time more Asian,” Pattharakositkul said. “Actually, I went back to Thailand and got a lot of stuff to use here.
“I want people to be able to fully enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant, with good service and the beauty of the food, not just sit and eat. And we have interesting beer and wine and cocktails with unique flavors, like rambutan.”
Since opening a little over a month ago, Pattharakositkul has already hired a new chef, Rattana Panawong, and the two have been tweaking the menu, adding new items and more local and seasonal ingredients.
“The idea is to have more smaller items and appetizers to share, and maybe not as many entrees,” Pattharakositkul said. “We have a little twist in almost everything we do.
“Everyone likes the green curry, and things like Pad Thai, Pad See Ewe and basil chicken are very authentic, but the way we present them is different.”
Another addition is a menu of weekday lunch specials, recently instituted by popular demand.
“The lunch menu is similar to the dinner menu, but smaller, with dishes I can serve in 10 minutes, at a price point everyone can afford,” Pattharakositkul said.“We had some feedback from the office people who work around here, so I listened to them. But this is a nice place for a date night, or even to bring a family.”
541 Main St., Suite F170, Atlanta. 404-400-5995, 26thai.com.
More images from a First Look at 26 Thai Kitchen & Bar.