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Thai one on
PJ Thai's piping hot Orange Chicken keeps a palate interested with plenty of spicy ginger and green onions. - photo by Tim Rutherford

While wandering around downtown on one of those beautiful days last week I was struck by a craving for sweet and sour chicken. Coincidentally, I rounded the corner smack into PJ Thai's at that very moment.

Of course, I didn't find sweet and sour chicken, but I did score a heaping plate of Orange Chicken, which fit the bill and far exceeded my expectations.

Orange Chicken is lightly breaded, not the puffy, doughnut–like bits most usually found in the area's Chinese take–outs. The piping hot chicken is then tossed with orange rind, plenty of spicy ginger and green onion shoots in a sweet sauce.

Simple, made–to–order and very, very good.

While dining, I discovered that plenty of my friends had been dining with the nice family at PJ's for some time. One friend joined me, and I sampled his Bangkok chicken, the same chicken base but with a fiery mix of chili sauce with onion, garlic and cilantro. According to him, it's all he ever orders.

The menu is small and manageable. The salmon salad is a popular dish and there is a nice range of traditional noodle dishes for something heartier.

It's small, just a few seats. Every order is made fresh, and the family that owns the place are friendly and welcoming to regulars. They should learn my name — I plan to be back frequently.

147 ABERCORN ST., 201/3534

Thai on another one

If you were a fan of Chirya's Thai dishes at the eponymous restaurant on the southside, rejoice. When that one closed, chef Chiriya took up the spot formerly filled by Kao on Victory Drive. There's some remodeling being done, but expect an opening in a few weeks.

Tangled web

Marshall Urstadt, who owned Chiriya's, is nearly ready to open his Bier Haus at 513 E. Oglethorpe Ave. Beer fans knew that Chiriya's was THE place to score great Belgian and German beers that couldn't be found anywhere else in the city. Now, those beers form the foundation of Marshall's new restaurant, located in the shopping center between Taca and Screamin' Mimi's.

Win a Swiss Diamond pan

Click by to sign up for a chance to win a 3.2-quart Swiss Diamond sauté fry pan with lid. I've long been a fan of the diamond-reinforced non–stick surface. It's easy to care for, performs very much like cast iron and weighs far less. I'll share a recipe for beef stew for two, all prepared in the one pan.

Sparetime's new menu

The new menu of this handcrafted cocktail bar has stepped far beyond its original incarnation. There are several new small plate options and a selection of imaginative entrée courses like mussels in white wine sauce, a grilled flat iron steak and housemade sausages.

The flavors and constructions on this menu are as inventive as the palate–taunting signature cocktails. I loved my earlier visits there and can't wait to sample the new dishes.