Blue Elephant has been on my dining to-do list since it opened in August. By the time I made it to the dining room in Lake Mary's eclectic Colonial TownPark, the restaurant had changed its name.
Now known as Thai Thani, the Seminole County eatery is part of a small Florida chain that has restaurants in Celebration, Orlando and Tampa. Signage is evolving but to-go menus already are showcasing the new name.
The busy shopping center west of Interstate 4 has been problematic for other restaurants, including the short-lived Blackfin Seafood Grill, Austral, Ultra Luce and Carlos'n Charlie's. So far Blue Elephant/Thai Thani seems to be reversing the trend.
The interior is an elegant mix of dark wood with open paper parasols suspended from the ceiling. I have always thought that open umbrellas inside meant bad luck would rain on you. But I also like the idea of ignoring superstitions and making your own luck.
Seating is a mix of comfortable regular tables and booths, and the patio sports some tables and chairs. In addition, there's a large U-shaped bar with a small lounge area to the side.
The menu is expansive and fairly traditional.
We started with the mee krob ($7.95), a conical stack of rice noodles mixed with a sweet tamarind tomato sauce with two fried shrimp on top. The result was akin to homemade Rice Krispies squares garnished with bean sprouts and chopped green onions. This appetizer was a little too sweet for my palate.
The summer rolls ($6.50) were superbly fresh and stuffed with greens and plump shrimp. On the side was a concentrated, molasses-colored soybean sauce topped with ground peanuts.
Our samosas majestique ($7.99) were a compact variation of plump Indian vegetable dumplings. The flat, triangular pouches were wrapped in thin dough and deep-fried. The mellow stuffing, made of potatoes and sweet peas, played well off the chili sauce.
The tiger tear beef ($15.95) entree was spot-on medium-rare. The marinated sirloin was thinly sliced and served with a peppery chili sauce that had judicious restraint with the fire.
The crispy duck breast ($18) was slathered with a ginger-cranberry sauce and served with a vegetable mix that included freshly steamed broccoli.
All entrees come with a side of white rice molded into a pyramid shape.
Service was sweetly engaging but not as knowledgeable as it should have been.
Colonial TownPark has a diverse lineup of eateries, including Amura, Papa Joe's Pizza, The Vineyard Wine Co., Liam Fitzpatrick's, Dexter's, Graffiti Junktion and more. Thai Thani fits nicely into the mix and, perhaps with umbrellas open, it is making its own luck in the location.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5498
Where: 951 Market Promenade Ave. (off County Road 46A west of Interstate 4), Lake Mary, in Colonial TownPark (across from Amura)
When: lunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily; dinner 4:30-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 4:30-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
How much: Lunch $5-$15; dinner $10-$30
Beverages: Full bar
Wines by the glass: From $5
Extras: Outdoor dining, takeout, catering, table service
Wheelchair access: Easy
Noise level: Quiet midweek, more buzz on weekends, but table conversations are easy
Credit: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
usa.com, thaithani.net and Facebook
Diningon a budget
Curries are filling and shareable. Try the medium yellow curry ($13.95) with beef or chicken. The velvety coconut sauce has an earthy finish from the curry, and the potatoes, sweet yellow onions and red bell peppers balance the heat quite nicely.