The Rosie Report: Nahm in Madison

The casual BYO is a solid spot to enjoy your favorite Thai dishes.

Pad Thai. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

If you happen to be in Madison and are looking for a casual restaurant, consider Nahm (meaning “water” in Thai), for lunch or dinner. Families and those coming from work that just want to eat and go home will appreciate that food is brought out quickly, service is attentive and for the most part the food is well prepared.

Although the menu offers some French dishes such as coquilles Saint-Jacques, baby rack of lamb and steak au poivre, we opted for the more attention-grabbing Thai dishes.

A tasty tom yum kung soup warmed us up on a cool fall evening. The lemongrass broth, shrimp, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms was satisfying and filling. A soy-vinegar dipping sauce enhanced four delicious meaty steamed dumplings stuffed with minced pork. Though a spicy sauce could not save the chive dumplings, which were not dough-filled pouches but what looked instead like fried squares of chive bread. Sweet and spicy chili sauce heightened the chicken wings, although we would have preferred them to be crispier.

Steamed dumplings. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Thai wings. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Basil rice. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Passion fruit crème brulee. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

Pad Thai was made with thin rice noodles tossed with egg, tofu, scallions, shrimp (can be ordered with chicken, beef or vegetables), finely chopped peanuts and a slice of lime. This national dish of Thailand is usually a crowd-pleaser but the sauce was a tad too sweet for us. However, we can recommend the crunchy-skinned tamarind duck, with tender meat which sat upon braised cabbage surrounded by a luscious tamarind red wine sauce. The ingredients listed in the Chiang Mai curry were braised pork, pickled garlic, peanuts and ginger. Avoid this dish as it was bland and the pork was tough. Basil fried rice—with red and green peppers, string beans, onions, yellow and green squash, and sprigs of basil—had a mild spiciness and was appealing despite some of the rice being clumped together.

There were four desserts offered: fried ice cream with a berry sauce; green tea crème brulee; coconut sticky rice with fresh mango and our pick of passion fruit crème brulee, which was so delicious that we could have eaten it for dinner and been very happy.

Nahm has wooden tables set with whimsical plates from Crate and Barrel depicting different animals; our table had one with a fish, the other a pig. Maroon walls, decorative gold lights and free form sculptures (one looked like water drops) create a comfortable atmosphere.

Open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday; dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Be sure to check your bill, as we were charged $1 more for the duck than the price listed on the take-out and on line menu.

Nahm, 41 Main Street, Madison; 973-520-8579; BYO

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