Who doesn’t love a restaurant with a split personality? A place that morphs and shifts for any occasion, the kind of spot that works for first dates and anniversary dinners? Malaysian restaurant Makan packs that all in with its sportier, more casual and more experimental downstairs bar, Thirsty Crow.
With its long bar and bevy of big-screen TVs (that may bring back some hazy memories from your Meridian Pint days), it looks like a sports bar. A nice sports bar, but a sports bar nonetheless. And one side of its menu certainly reads like a sports bar menu, with a variety of beer options and a sliver of wines. It’s when you flip that menu over and are face to face with Thirsty Crow’s food and cocktail list that things start to feel a little different.
Like the restaurant above it, Thirsty Crow’s menu is stocked with Malaysian (and Southeast Asian) dishes, but in the basement, they’re viewed through the lens of classic bar food. Everything on the Thirsty Crow’s menu is inspired by chef James Wozniuk’s many trips to Southeast Asia (13 and counting) and meant to pair well with an ice cold beer and a Jaguar’s game (or a Cowboy’s game if you’re Wozniuk). Or better yet, order en masse and share among friends like a salty, spicy, funky buffet. The menu might look short and sweet, but each dish packs a distinct punch. As Wozniuk explains it, “Downstairs is a playroom. Each dish has its own personality.”
There’s arguably no dish with a bigger personality on the menu than the Sai Krok Isaan, a make-your-own snack plate laden with sour pork sausages from northern Thailand, hunks of cabbage, slivers of raw garlic, ginger, dried chilies and peanuts. Throw a little bit of everything into your cabbage wrap and you’ve got a crunchy, meaty, spicy, sour treat in your hands. Wozniuk has fond memories of digging into his own plate of Sai Krok Isaan on one of his first trips to Thailand. Now you can have those fond memories too, they’ll just be in the basement of Thirsty Crow, which has much cheaper airfare. Pair it with an order with the berempah potatoes, a riff off of the Malaysian spice fried chicken which subs in crispy potatoes, for the ultimate spicy, fatty and crushable meal.
If you’re craving something a little more fried, you can’t go wrong with the beef rendang croquetas, which keep things simple by combining spiced beef and potatoes alongside a nutmeg aioli, which mirrors some of the warming spices found in a traditional beef randang recipe. Split your beefy fried patties with a friend, and make a beeline to the chef’s bowl (if you’re craving more beef rendang) or the dan dan mian noodles (if succulent spicy pork is more up your alley) for your main course. Either way, you might as well cap it all off with a cocktail for dessert, like the Wildwood Road with its spicy rye base to match your spicy meal.
Your next step? Celebrate your team if they won or hang your head low if they lost, and feel confident that no matter what happened on one of Thirsty Crow’s TVs, at least you have a good meal to show for it.
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