Mengrai Gourmet Thai
82 Ontario St.
416-840-2759
www.mengtaithai.com

Rating: ***
Dinner & drinks for 2: $50

Housed in a former brewery, Mengrai is surprisingly intimate with exposed brick walls and various nooks to tuck into.

Asking if it’s our first time here, the manager gives us a tour of the place, including taking us into the bustling kitchen and introducing us to the staff. Now that’s definitely a first!

The enticing menu has Chef Sasi’s twist on classic dishes as well as expected favourites — curries, pad Thai and wok-fried mains. It is cluttered with reviews, comments and wine pairings so it takes us awhile to get through it.

The Golden Flowers Shrimp Appetizer ($9.95) sounds elegant and unique, but is disappointingly ordinary — shrimp and veg plopped into fried wontons. Filet Striped Bass with Tamarind Coconut ($18.95) is a wonder with a thick, creamy sauce that is alive with peppery heat. Sasi Pad Thai with Chicken & Shrimps’ ($13.95) thin, delicate noodles evoke a smoky tanginess, thanks to sundried tomatoes and other non-pad Thai ingredients — interesting update.

The service is wonky — there was all that attention when we walked in, but it got sporadic throughout the night and the wait for the bill was excruciating.

Good, bad, good, bad —does that translate to another visit?

Dining out
Musically-Inspired Sandwiches
Chad Comfort and his wife recently opened Sky Blue Sky Sandwich Company Ltd. (605 Bloor St. W. — upper unit). Healthy sammies with homemade bread are named after Wilco songs — which play in the background. These devoted fans offer “Kingpin” (pulled pork) and “Mermaid Avenue” (salmon salad). Find like-minded folks over a bite to eat. Email your order at sbs_sandwiches@yahoo.ca or call 647-351-7945.

Get your Halloween On in style
On Saturday, Proof Vodka Bar at the InterContinental Toronto Yorkville Hotel celebrates Halloween with themed cocktails (Angeltini, Demontini anyone?) and bar nibblies such as ghoul calamari ($10), angel wings ($16), devilled meatballs ($12), and veg samosas with “hell sauce” ($9). Dance until 2 a.m. and crash at the hotel at a special rate. toronto.intercontinental.com or for reservations 416-960-5200, ext. 5834.