I blame Frank Bruni. If he hadn't given it two stars in the NY Times I would have never gone to Thor, and if I had somehow wound up there I wouldn't have felt so thoroughly shafted. It's a mug's game to figure out what motivates the Bruni-lator to give stars or to take them away but there is no way on God's green earth that the meal I had at Thor was worth any stars, even a little gold one you can stick on a report card for "nice effort!"
The room is really good looking, although it's pretty loud, but I think it's just the lousy acoustics and the little mice who creep in after closing to nibble on the crumbs on the floor probably have a hard time hearing each other, too. The bathrooms are very nice and rarely has "going" been so much "fun". The service started out well, with a very nice host and hostess up front who were clearly overworked and harried but didn't let it show, and a nice waiter and general manager. The sommelier was a princess who was nothing but super-keen and kind. Things were looking good until we ordered. At that point our waiter vanished, never to be seen again except when he brought us the check, and the rest of the meal was delivered and cleared by very sweet busboys and runners. They were so nice, and seemed like the kind of guys where you could say, "Hey, do you want to see my pony out on my farm?" and they'd smile and come with you and say all the right things. BUT they are suffering from the Quick Clearing disease that all NYC busboys seem to be suffering from these days. I appreciate attentive service but having my water glass refilled after every sip and having them offer to clear a plate with food on it three times in literally five minutes becomes a real battle. The table we were at was a little small so they brought the appetizers out one at a time. Since we were sharing I appreciated that. But the problem here was that they kept bringing the second appetizer out before we were even halfway through the first one. The runner stood there, silently, thinking, and then disappeared. I could understand them rushing our meal if they were busy, but we came in in the middle of the evening (not at the end - so it wasn't like they all wanted to go home) and 1/3 of the tables were empty. It was annoying and baffling, like being engaged in a battle over your meal: they're pushing, you're resisting, resentment builds, why can't we all just get along?
The bill was very reasonable, which is good because the food was not so hot. If a restaurant gets a star or two in the Times then I expect that I'll either encounter some new tastes there, or I'll come across standard dishes done really well. Thor had all the hallmarks of a restaurant without a chef in the kitchen. The squid ink pasta was hard - not al dente, but hard - and while the squid was delicious, the pasta was pretty so-so. The beet terrine was a gorgeous looking dish, but didn't have a whole hell of a lot of taste - although that could be a personal thing because I like that dirty taste of beets, and I know that's not for everyone. The mussels were dry and tough, but the sauce they were in was delicious. The lobster entree was boring. Lobster and what was, for all intents and purposes, hollandaise sauce. Blah. Plus it was tiny. I don't need my food supersized, but when an entree is smaller than not only the appetizer (which cost half as much) but also smaller than your side dish (a third as much) then there's something wrong with either your pricing or your portion control. The Quark Spaetzl was delicious at first, but the second it became room temperature it turned into a gluey mass of paste. But as long as it was piping hot it was quite good.
The chocolate lollipop could have been a good idea, but what I had - liquid chocolate in a soggy dough wrapper - wasn't so hot. The malted milkshake - thumbs up. The snickers bar dessert was also good.
I'm glad I went, but I'm not going back. And, judging from the lack of people eating here (despite the packed bar) I would guess others feel the same way.
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