Sweet Angel is my favorite source of Thai food in Brunswick, but it is located on a not particularly walkable (or pleasant) part of Pleasant Street. So, I tend to zoom into the small parking lot next to Uncle Tom’s, a convenience store known for its good beer and extensive “adult literature” selection, then grab our takeout and run.
But, the other day, I stopped by to check out the lunch specials with a good book in hand and a plan to eat and stay. The lunch menu is nearly a whole page filled with 27 mix-and-match options at prices ranging from $7.29 to $8.99. I get the excellent pad Thai almost every time I order from Sweet Angel and that was an option, as was another favorite, the spicy eggplant, but I settled on Spicy Basil Leaves – a mushroom, pepper and onion mixture that I ordered with a combination of chicken, shrimp and beef for $8.59.
Only two other tables were occupied in the open dining room, which has varnished wood floors and a few cheery Thai decorations. It was mostly quiet, except when a woman took a phone call in the middle of her lunch and, instead of stepping outside, prattled on, oblivious to her fellow diners and her own lunch date. But, by then, my platter had arrived, giving me something else to focus on.
The main dish was cupped into a white, oblong vessel and perfectly stacked up to appear exactly full enough without being overwhelming. A neat ring of brown rice, which I opted for instead of steamed white rice, was off to the side. Two fried wontons, as delicate as wontons can be, were next to that and, at the top of the plate, was a simple iceberg salad.
It’s all about the bulk and the bargain when you go out for lunch at many Asian restaurants. You know you’re getting what you’d pay way more for at dinner. But Sweet Angel’s lunch felt different, like a well proportioned sampling of what the place does well. The main dish was slightly saltier than I wanted it to be – and I’m usually the first to reach for a salt shaker and the last to let it go – but the ingredients held on to their distinctive flavors. The mushrooms, in particular, were juicy and delicious. Usually, I opt for one protein or another, but the combo option gave me a chance to try the beef, which was thinly sliced and only a bit chewy and the shrimp, which were small but tender and tasted fresh.
I assumed the salad would be a wash, one of those obligatory sides that aren’t much more than garnish. Instead it was delicious, the lettuce crisp and chopped into easy chunks to fork up. A tangle of shredded carrot was the only other ingredient beyond the pale orange, faintly citrus dressing. It was such a good way to offset the spice of the main dish that I doled it out slowly throughout the meal.
That kind of effort is characteristic of Sweet Angel. So is the friendly, welcoming service. Sometimes a name can be very fitting.
WHERE: 136 Pleasant St., Brunswick; 373-1133, sweetangelme.com
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
WAIT: Very fast. For lunch, five to 10 minutes for food.
PARKING: Small lot
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes