Can a chowhound restaurant go upscale and still deserve the praise? Astoundingly, the Salad King has successfully made the transition. Its been one of my favourites for many years (I used to work at the Atrium). After it reopened after renovating I was back to check on progress and the food was just as good as before and now it has table service instead of cafeteria style collection as your number was announced. But you still may have to share a table which can have its advantages Ive already seen some connections made between diners who were placed at the same table. But on Saturday, I got to try the new upstairs dining room Lindas (same phone # as Salad King) and I was very pleasantly surprised. First its cozy, white linen and pretty good glassware approaching romantic even. Smartly dressed servers and a wine list. And the food comes from the same kitchen, so its excellent as always. The upstairs is only open from 5pm and closes at 9:30 (8:30 on Saturdays; closed Sundays) so reservations are essential. And the menu repeats some of the favourites from downstairs but adds some new dishes. I asked why these were not available downstairs and was told that they take longer to prepare. Not a problem for people lingering over a bottle of wine, but too long a wait time for the in-and-out crowd that frequents downstairs. Not that all the wines go well with Thai food, but there were empty bottles of Château Mouton-Rothschild, Château Petrus and Château Latour on display all of which were still available from the wine list (if you have to ask how much, you cant afford them). Of course, most of the wines are much more affordable, and we had a bottle of Chilean Gewurztraminer (excellent with the food). We split a soft-shelled crab appetizer perfectly ungreasy although flavours were muted. Then mains of Smoked Duck Breast with Red Curry and Beef Panang Curry, both of which were excellent (the duck breast was served pink and I thought it a touch salty but most smoked duck is salty). Service was very professional and, with coffee, all food, the bottle of wine, all taxes and gratuity we still got change from $100. OK downstairs its usually under $30 with a beer, but I cant think of anywhere else downtown where a full meal with wine in equivalent surroundings (and really good food) can be accomplished at the same price.
If anybody needs a nice place' before the theatre you wont beat this (and tell them what time you have to leave).