The owners of beloved Logan Circle Thai joint Baan Thai had been planning to open a new, much bigger restaurant called Baan Siam on April 15. Then, of course, a pandemic hit.
“We obviously immediately pulled the plug on that and just sort of went cold and dark and started to reassess,” says co-owner Tom Healy. “We had a game plan for the past year going into this, then we essentially had to shelve almost everything.”
Finally, though, Baan Siam is ready to make its debut on June 4—albeit with some big adjustments. First, the obvious: the restaurant will be be doing online ordering for pickup and delivery only for now.
Baan Siam had never intended to carryover the sushi portion of Baan Thai’s menu. But now chef Jeeraporn Poksubthong, better known as “P’Boom,” is scaling back even more. Menu items such as duck have been shelved due to pricing spikes and supply chain issues. Weekly specials that Poksubthong planned to test out will also be put on hold, given that the best feedback comes from people dining in-house.
Beyond that, though, Baan Siam’s menu will be very similar to Baan Thai, which prided itself on eschewing watered-down, westernized versions of classic Thai dishes. Favorites like tom yum soup, Thai vermicelli in chili-peanut sauce, and khao soi will stick around, but there will also be new items such as spicy stir-fried catfish and spicy chicken in banana leaf. In her new kitchen, Poksubthong now has a high-powered wok station and wood-fired oven to play around with.
Meanwhile, plans for the bar have been “obliterated,” Healy says. He initially intended to have 20 beers on tap and develop a decent wine catalog thanks to a temperature-controlled cellar in the space. Instead, he’ll be focusing on bottles of beer and scaling back wines to five reds and five whites. You’ll also find frozen lychee and “white lotus” (think margarita but with soju and sake) cocktails to-go.
The restaurant has double the space of Baan Thai, plus a wrap-around patio that under normal circumstances would seat an extra 40. But Healy says they plan to approach the reopening for dine-in service cautiously and conservatively when the time comes.
“In terms of the seating and capacity, we will adapt that probably a little bit more strictly than whatever the city recommends, because we can’t be too careful at this point,” Healy says. “It’s going to be my staff that we want to minimize contact with. So if that means we stay at 20-percent capacity for even longer than is necessary, that’s what we’ll do.”
Baan Siam. 425 I St., NW.