Scrolling Headlines:

Worcester, Student Union renovations among subjects of first SGA Senate session -

September 26, 2017

Three thefts in Fine Arts Center over past week -

September 26, 2017

Talk on women’s resistance to Brazilian military dictatorship held at the Old Chapel -

September 26, 2017

Engstrom and MacLean lead UMass cross country at Battle in Beantown -

September 26, 2017

The anti-Semitism of the Suarez talk is not the way to discuss the Israeli-/Palestinian conflict -

September 26, 2017

No, fascists are not the same as those who oppose them -

September 26, 2017

Political factions oppose each other like passionate sports fans -

September 26, 2017

STEM Ambassador’s Program to expand impact on and off campus -

September 26, 2017

Buzz starting to build for UMass hockey -

September 26, 2017

UMass Tennis starts season strong at Brown Invitational -

September 26, 2017

Foo Fighters’ ‘Concrete and Gold’ misses the mark -

September 26, 2017

Emmy’s 2017 Red Carpet fashion recap: who, what, WEAR -

September 26, 2017

We all scream for vegan ice cream -

September 26, 2017

UMass women’s soccer takes complete control in 3-1 win vs. Davidson -

September 25, 2017

Shaughnessy Naughton speaks on STEM professionals in politics -

September 25, 2017

ESPN author and journalist talks sports and mental health at UMass -

September 25, 2017

UMass men’s soccer remains unbeaten at home -

September 25, 2017

Minutewomen split Pennsylvania trip -

September 25, 2017

Kozlowski’s minutes limited for second straight game in loss versus Fordham -

September 25, 2017

Late penalty-kick goal not enough vs. Rams -

September 25, 2017

Walking on the Fresh Side: A look at quirky Thai in Amherst

Jess Watsky/Collegian

It was an eve of mixed emotions the night my companion and I went to Fresh Side, invigorated and ready to face the academic year with an open mind as the summer’s end drew upon us. We had just come face to face with the Dirty Truth – the beer hall, that is – and the stark realization of the necessity of a photo ID, and headed to Fresh Side for some purely gastronomic pleasures.

Upon arriving at the eccentric Amherst establishment, we ordered a selection of iced teas. A classic Thai iced tea for myself, and a jasmine and coconut milk tea for my date. The Thai iced tea, similar to ones I’ve had before, was sweet and milky, but a little mild for my standards. The intensity of the spices seemed to be lost in the creamy base. The jasmine tea was the hit of the evening, to my surprise. My dining companion found it floral, perfume-like and complimentary with the coconut milk; neither flavor seemed to clash.

When faced with the choice of which delicious appetizer to sample, the decision was obvious: a carb-packed pad thai tea roll that I had enjoyed on previous occasions. I was admittedly disappointed when the dumpling served was dry and bland, soapy at best from some perky cilantro, mollified only with a dash of peanut sauce. All the aromatics and flavors of pad thai, a dish that hits every single gustatory sensation, were muted to the point of boredom.

The entrees, grouped into singular ingredient-based conceptions – pad thai, ginger beef, Peking – comprise of soups, rice, noodle dishes, or tea rolls. Feeling autumnal, I opted for an apple curry noodle dish, with fresh summer vegetables. The noodle plate was exuberant in its execution, with bright chunks of perfectly cooked and seasoned vegetables covering fettuccine pasta – odd for a Thai-esque restaurant. Unfortunately, the sauce, the very apex of the dish itself, lacked the intense interest . Harboring a gelatinous texture, it smelled like cinnamon, curry spices and cloves, but was devoid of that apple lushness I so coveted. The sauce’s underwhelming flavor contradicted the original concept of presenting a dish with such an interesting combination.

My date enjoyed her entrée, fried rice stuffed inside a delicate pillow of an omelet. I found the rice to be well seasoned and crunchy, with nice pieces of water chestnut. The egg was more of a sheet than a blanket and did not overwhelm the senses, providing enough softness to cushion the crunch of the rice and vegetables. There was a strange addition to the plate, though – a sauce that seemed far more apt to be with my pasta than on the side of her dish, a peppery applesauce with grainy spice particles that both intrigued and confused us. Was it a small dessert? A palate cleanser? A nod and a wink at a traditional brunch side dish? We didn’t understand it, nor did we enjoy it. It clashed with the savory rice dish and fit in as neither a sauce nor a side.

Fresh Side is a funky, albeit standard restaurant. It tries to be quirky and succeeds in most areas, but fails to provide the bold flavors and dishes beyond its hype. If the diner is willing to step beyond his or her comfort zone, the results can occasionally be exquisite. Perhaps Fresh Side ought to take a page from the menus of more traditional Thai restaurants in the area and master the classics first. Playing with the big boys means you have to bring a big game, and Fresh Side needs a little more practice.

Jess Watsky can be reached at jwatsky@student.umass.edu.

Leave A Comment