i felt unsure as we arrived at the entrance, space age tiki hut ambience as we made our way thru the smokers in the outdoor lounge, lots of people at the reservationists table (beautifully accented by a fish tank disguised in a bird cage) and started madly thinking about where else we could go because this might be too much.....maybe it was the shelves upon shelves of glowingly lighted orchids suspended in capped vases of water, or the genuine politeness of the staff as they suggested we wait in the bar for our table or the lovely austrian wine we had as we sat among the calm throng outside......but my confidence blossomed and i looked forward to the treat in store.
and it was quite a treat. there were four of us and we decided to share a variety of small plates and sides but have them served to us in stages that we organized - and our wonderful waiter complied. i may only remember a few details after several bottles of wine from a very nice list but we started with banana blossom and artichoke served in a chile vinaigrette - a dish i will forever crave, a ceviche of individual diver scallops wrapped in some kind of leaf with bits of caviar and ? but literally a mouthful of the sea, not briny but sea essence. and their version of tod mun pla - the ubiquitous but very thai fish cake. these were sublime, tiny squares of beautifully spiced fish, topped with bits of fried herbs (?) and arranged with a chile sauce and a mustard sauce drizzled by......then we moved on to the clay pot cooked mussels in a broth so delicately spiced, so tasty that we all used mussel shells to scoop the excess. and yet to accompany this was a very intense but light hot sauce that you'd dip the mussel into, pop in your mouth, think you'd made a huge error and would be diving for a water pitcher and then the sensation stopped. it was just enough heat to shoot you over the moon but it literally stopped itself in your mouth so that you could still taste the delicacy of the mussel. i did this over and over again because i couldn't get over how it worked and how delicious it was. we also had sauteed morning glory's in a sauce that was lightly spiced, slight garlic edge - lovely and a cooked thai fruit and vegetable salad - delicious.
next up were the chocolate back ribs, thai beef salad, and chicken lollipops in a tamarind sauce - i don't eat meat but all around me were quite happy - seemed particularly so with the chicken. we also had the red curry with fiery thai vegetables with this course and they were fantastic. the curry sauce was again - spiced to the edge but warm and inviting - exhilarating and almost an asian comfort food at the same time.
it's all floating candles and raw silk in deep colors, there's a vibrancy to the atmosphere, the service and especially the food. it's comfortable and lovely and insanely good. we started our evening at lincoln center seeing the teatre du complicite which was spectacular, so this became a quintessential new york evening - really all the best of what this city has to offer and that's not half bad.