The Early Word--Park Slope's Mee Thai

Mediocre Thai places breed like bunnies in and around Park Slope, so the opening last June of Mee Thai on Fifth Avenue went mostly unremarked. But I stopped in for lunch today just for the hell of it, and it turned out that the food is much better than expected--making it a solid neighborhood Thai spot (a good thing to have), but not a destination by any stretch.

This papaya salad looks like it went to the Top Chef School of Cooking, coaxed into a precarious, teetering tower of papaya, peanuts, tomatoes, long beans and fried shallots. But we had asked for it Thai spicy, and, happily, it came (nearly) Thai spicy. Plus, it was sauced with copious amounts of funky fish sauce and lime juice.

Jungle curry--a northern Thai spicy curry made without coconut, which gets its name, I believe, because it's often made with frog, snake or other wild game--was serviceable, heavily dosed with red chiles, lemongrass and kaffir lime. We got it with shrimp because snake wasn't available.

Pad-kee-mao (drunken noodle) was a delicious tangle of chewy broad noodles, egg, chile paste and basil. I think the key is to ask for dishes spicy if you want them to know you actually like Thai food, not the sugary stuff that often passes for it.

Mee Thai 180 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn 718-230-8280

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