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North Side Review: Cozy Noodle & Rice

By Erin in Food on Oct 9, 2006 6:33PM

For years now, we’ve been saying that more Thai places need to embrace the Pez Dispenser as a key element of restaurant design. Someone finally listened.

Cozy Noodle & Rice blends a playful atmosphere — walls covered with retro toys and trinkets — with some fresh Thai ingredients and a BYOB policy. Chicagoist happened to visit Cozy during the commencement of the 2006 NFL season, and despite the “Let’s Go Steelers” chants emanating from the Wrigleyville crowd across the street, the outdoor seating provided a lovely spot for the meal.

Our friendly and attentive server opened our bottle of Pinot Gris once we arrived. The restaurant provided a wine chiller and, in a peculiar move, Styrofoam cups for our tasty beverage. I don’t think the Styrofoam really helped the wine breathe, but we accepted the “BYOB + glass + outdoor seating + Wrigleyville = liability” reasoning for the stemware choice.

The meal began with the typical Thai starter, Spring Rolls ($3.95), which were fresh but accompanied by a tamarind sauce (similar to sweet and sour) rather than a peanut sauce. Crab Rangoon ($3.75) followed. The cream cheese filling was far richer than stuff found in mediocre Chinese takeout and even included real crab. We realize that Crab Rangoon isn’t a very traditional Thai dish, but it’s deep-fried cream cheese for cryin’ out loud. What’s not to like?

The main course was brought out too quickly as there were still two Rangoons to be eaten. It felt a little rushed, but we’ll get over it. Aside from this little timing issue, however, the service was excellent.

2006_10_cozy.jpgThe Red Curry ($6.50) was a perfect mix of natural curry heat and sweet coconut milk, along with chicken, peas, carrots and bamboo shoots. The server mentioned that all curry dishes (there’s four to choose from) can be ordered to various levels of spiciness. Our date stuck with the conventional Pad Thai ($5.95), which she said did not disappoint. The little details — plenty of crushed peanuts, fresh bean sprouts and a version of tamarind sauce — helped make the dish noteworthy.

Tasty stuff all around. Sweet, spicy, salty, sour. We had it all and left with a bill under $30. This Thai joint has a pretty commonplace menu, but uses some fresh ingredients and kitschy décor to really make it stand out.

Cozy Noodle & Rice is located at 3456 N. Sheffield. Serving from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Sunday thru Thursday, and from 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and and Saturday, (773) 327-0100.

Thanks, Andrew