Ever finish eating at a pretty good little mom-n-popper and, after collecting the check, flash one last look around its lackluster and liquor-license-lacking environs, and think, "If I come back, I'll probably just get takeout"? Yeah, me too. Well, Bahn Thai on Henderson Road isn't one of those restaurants.

Ever finish eating at a pretty good little mom-n-popperand, after collecting the check, flashone last look around its lackluster and liquor-license-lacking environs, and think, "If I come back, I'll probably just get takeout"? Yeah, me too. Well, Bahn Thai on Henderson Road isn't one ofthose restaurants.

With character - and chili pepper power - to burn, plusapatio (albeit strip-mall-situated) and refreshing adult beverage service, Bahn Thai provides you with more reasons to visit than just solid and affordable Thai food.

I'll start off with its eye-jolting,more-is-more, all-over approach to interior design - call it go-for-brokeAsian baroque. In other words, Bahn Thai's semi-cramped space looks positively wild.

First of all, there's a penchant for high-test color. This finds expression in ethnically appropriate knickknacks, doodads, curtains and valances, plus a large artwork depicting a decked-out lady surrounded by faux gold leaf.

There's also a striking lineup of pastel-hued parasols hung along a row of windows above squat tropical plants. There's other stuff, too - like neat, carved wooden things - but suffice it to say Bahn Thai clearly abhors a vacuum.

The menu is also packed. It supplies voluminous reading, which I suggest you peruse while sucking back a Singha Thai-made brew. But if theabundant verbiage getsoverwhelming, you could alwaysfast-forward to the "special dinner for two" (which would actually feed three, andprobably four)for $42 (it'sa terrificdeal considering it'll be enough for lunches tomorrow).

The $42 twofer starts off with soups. From these, I was a fan of the bold Tom Yum chicken ($4.25),which was full of poultry and fragrant with cilantro, fish sauce and lime. The similar Tom Kha chickenwas fine, but its heavy coconut-milk component was overly dominant.

A Thai salad is also included - I went with the stunningly huge Tiger Cry ($9). Above a bed of romaine lettuce was a ton of served-cold seared beef strips tricked out with cucumbers and fire-starting jalapenos. Dressed with a fish sauce, sugar and lime juice amalgam, the salad - like several items I tried here -was big and good if not as nuanced as those from the absolute top Thai placesin town.

The dinner for two also comes with the gargantuan Combo Appetizer ($11), which I suggest you get even if not going the special meal route. Served with three dipping sauces (two cucumbery ones and a sweet andspicypeanut-buttery one) were a preponderance of: Tod Mun Gai (juicy, spongy and fun ground chicken lumps); plump, smoky-grilled satays; cabbagy spring rolls; and good, sausage-filled fried wontons.

Entree wise, my Pad Pedd ($10) was an inspired stir fry of crunchy bamboo shoots, baby corn, green peppers, mushrooms and a protein (I went with shrimp) in a rockin' chili sauce with arousing garlic, sweetand fish-sauce aspects.

I also dug the smoky notes and variegated textures of the Pad Kuay Tiew Khua ($10). Big, fat, high-heat-seared noodles were complemented by crushed cooked peanuts, egg, onions, cilantro, lots of sprouts and cooling lettuce.

The Kang Dang (red curry, $10) was pretty good, if another instance of coconut milk overwhelming other elements. Otherwise, I liked its mild Thai aromatics (like basil) and loved its use of Asian eggplant.

The most interesting dessert was the delicious Bahn Thai Custard ($2.50). Reminiscent of a semolina cake, I preferred it without the traditional, if unusual (to me) toasted shallots on it.

For more local food news and reviews, click to G.A. Benton's blog, Under the Table, at http://blog.columbusalive.com/underthetable/