To those who claim that Thai Square has fallen from grace, or at least from its former lofty heights, I’d like to ask a serious question: Are you freakin’ kidding me? OK, I’ll grant you the pad thai has problems; the dish leans heavily on sweetness at the expense of its sour and spicy flavors. But virtually everything else on the menu is balanced, nuanced, and worthy of the accolades that used to routinely come Thai Square’s way. The crispy honey-roasted duck with basil, which looks so drab on the plate, is actually a star performer in mixing sweetness with heat. The tom kha kai soup has a sharp, sour bite but finds its full expression only when you scrape the seeds from your floating dry-pepper pods to help raise the heat. And don’t overlook the daily specials menu, from which you can order Thai Square’s lightly dredged and fried soft-shells, so crisp and delicate of flavor even with an application of chili-tamarind sauce, one of several available for this dish.

3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington (703) 685-7040