Thai Wild Lime Café & Takeaway isn't a great Thai restaurant. It's never going to fill part of that gap in the Melbourne food scene. To me, anyway, the range of food is too limited and the food was a little over sweet and would have benefited from some additional spicy heat. What it is though is a very good little local Thai place, the sort that every suburb needs but few have. I think it's exactly the sort of place which should be in the Melbourne Cheap Eats guide, but for some reason appears to have been over looked.
Located two streets down from South Yarra train station and 20 metres from Toorak Road, it would be very easy to miss TWLC if you didn't know it was there. A generic shop front with a few tables outside along the street, the tables inside were close together but more cosy than cramped. That could change if the café was full but I didn't see many people there. All my visits were around 6pm on the way home from work and I only saw two others dining there on an outside table, although there were a fair number of takeaway orders.
The staff are infectiously friendly and polite. It almost felt like I was a guest rather than a customer. First dish tried was the chicken curry puffs. Served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, the casing on these was lighter and 'puffier' than most, the filling moist and flavoursome. A good start to the meal.
Probably my favourite of the mains was the chicken salad (larb gai). This light and refreshing salad was mildly (chilli) hot, slightly tart and a little sweet. It's one of those things I don't have very often but every time I try it I enjoy it. Consistent with most of the food I thought the balance of heat and sweetness leaned a little towards the sweet side, but it would suit someone who liked their food mild to medium hot.
The only dish which disappointed me a little was the duck red curry. I was hoping for a fiery little coconut based curry but again a little on the sweet and mild side. It also came with lycees and cherry tomatoes in the sauce. I'm not sure if this is traditional but it didn't quite work for me in a dish I thought was already a little sweet.
Better was the lamb massaman curry. Firm but tender lamb and potato in a coconut based sauce. I thought this was less sweet than the duck curry and the lamb more generous than the duck. The sauce could still have been a little spicier and more complex though, as this was quite a mild curry.
The only dessert I was curious to try was the coconut ice cream with sticky rice. This was very good. I particularly liked the contrasts between the texture, temperature and sweetness levels of the ice cream and the rice. In fact I was very tempted to order a second serve of this.
With good food, a nice place to sit and eat and a level of friendliness often missing, I wish TWLC all the best. They deserve it. They would deserve it even more though if they moved nearer to my place in Glenhuntly. Seriously though, almost the template for what a local café should be like. I probably wouldn't cross town to try it, but would recommend it without hesitation to someone living in the area.
Food - 7.5
Service - 8
Ambience - 7
Prices - 7
69 Davis Avenue
South Yarra VIC 3141
Tel: (03) 9867 6444