Arun is the worst meal we've ever had in 20 years of high-end
reviewing, and a total fraud by restaurant critics. Not one item
or ingredient at Arun was different from or better than those
available at standard, less expensive, Thai restaurants. The tab:
$501.00 for two with two bottles of wine. We reduced our tip to
seven percent because of the service.
What distinguishes Arun from other Thai joints is the smothering
number of wait staff (they hang about you like Iraqi monitors),
the vertical entree architecture, a French sauce-painting display
style for each course, and tiny (lovely) servings delivered in a
presumptuous no-menu, no options degustation.
Descriptions of each piece are uttered by mumbling waiters who
fail to mention the food often sits too long before delivery and
thus is lukewarm when it must be hot and room temperature when it
must be cool. Case in point? The ice cream in our dessert tray
arrived half melted. Our mumblers disappeared and service became
spotty when a large party arrived midway through our meal. We
were not even asked about coffee and after-dinner drinks.
Arun provided the saltiest meal we've had by far, which lent to
the poorly seasoned blurred flavor palate of each dish.
Entirely absent was the scintillating bright quality of Thai
food. Not one item (6 appetizers, 10 entrees, 2 desserts)
redeemed this lackluster quality. Nothing indicated it was an off
night for a section of the kitchen. We did not taste lemon grass,
rich coconut, fruit flavors, or much of the famous Thai fish
sauce. Just salt.
The lengthly wine list was unimpressive. We tried a first cru
Montrachet ($150). It was watery and minerally and little else.
The cork broke into three parts on pull but the wine exhibited no
off odors or flavors so I accepted it. The hostess should have
taken it back. Our Shiraz ($130), however, was outstanding. The
hints of kerosene, tar, and dense fruit made it a treat.
We met Arun in his spacious bustling kitchen on entering and
exiting the restaurant. He wore dark, white-framed Oakleys and a
floral print short-sleeved shirt. He looked like he was waiting
to hook a board over the next big wave. We quietly told him what
we said here about his food. We faulted him, not his staff.
Throughout our meal we were extremely respectful.
Arun said he would make it up to us the next time we visited, and
true to his word we were called the next afternoon for a "special
dinner." The deal? Arun said it would come in the mail. It did.
No comps. Simply stop by and try us again. Not even a free bottle
of cheap wine.
Fool me once? Of course.
Zero (0) stars. Sorry, one star is too much. Unacceptable.
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