First of all, it's tiny - and the tables are very close together. This might be a detractor on a Friday or Saturday night, but on a slow Monday wasn't a problem.
The walls are painted a deep red which could have seemed stifling if not offset by an entire wall of windows on one side. Brown butcher paper table covers, pink and white tulips and lime green napkins also brightened up the room. The tables and chair reminded me of an ice cream parlor (hey Ypsilantians, remember Miller's in Depot Town? Like that).
But let's get down to the really important stuff: the food.
Oh, and the drinks. FYI - Rice Spice recently obtained a liquor license and now has a beer and wine list. You do still have the option of BYOB, but the $3 corking fee mentioned in the NYT review has gone up to about $20.
For such a small place, I was surprised to find a decent and varied wine selection. Rice Spice probably offers about 20-25 bottles and I'd say that about 10 of those are available by the glass (this will require a visit back to actually count the wines on the wine list). Another pleasant surprise was the selections offered: heavy on the French and no Kendall Jackson chardonnay in sight. Martha (my partner in dining crime) and I chose the Joseph Drouhin Pinot Noir (available for $7/glass). This pinot was light-bodied and smooth, though the flavor was mild almost to the point of being underwhelming. Still, if you don't like the "big" reds or really peppery pinots, you may enjoy this offering.
We ordered a spring roll appetizer (none too creative, are we?) They were small but nicely crispy, although perhaps a little too heavy on the fried wrapper and a little too light on the vegetable filling. The sweet chili dipping sauce that accompanied them was a perfect balance of sugar and spice.
The show-stopper of the evening was on the way, however: The Wonton Pad Thai, a resplendent (I know, the word 'resplendent' is a little over the top) combination of shrimp, fried tofu, fried wontons, egg, crushed peanuts, and sprouts all dressed in peanut sauce.
Shrimp Pad Thai is my regular order on the rare occasions I go out for Thai food, and I couldn't resist the idea of all that fried deliciousness added to it. And this dish does not disappoint. Although the majority of the bowl occupants are fried, the dish is not greasy, nor is it too heavy or too light on the sauce. The sprouts provided the perfect crunch. I could have done with a couple more shrimp, but that's not really a complaint - I always think I could do with a couple more shrimp.
The portions are decent-sized but not huge. They are also reasonably priced. My Wonton Pad Thai cost $12. I didn't have any leftovers, but I was full after eating it.
Most of the desserts on the menu have an Asian-Fusion feel - green tea ice cream, mango sorbet, you get the idea - but Martha and I tried a distinctly non-Thai offering: the Chocolate Lava Cake. The round of cake is about the size of one of those little strawberry shortcake shells. It's more dense than regular devil's food cake but less dense than a brownie. Served warm with a pool of warm chocolate sauce in the center and a dusting of powdered sugar, this semi-sweet cake was a delectable and rather decadent ending to our meal.
The long and short of it: I definitely would recommend Rice Spice Noodles based on this first visit and look forward to returning and sampling more of their menu.
Rice Spice Noodles Restaurant; 4 Roosevelt Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355; 860-572-8488