. . .can be summed up in two words: "don't bother." Yes, another restaurant in the cursed spot should be on a death watch (or one could only hope). Far too many "bad signs."
Here's the deal:
We arrived about 7:30. The half of the dining room that was lit was fairly full, with one server. The server greeted us as the door as "hey, guys." Two women, on the other side of 35, and we get "hey guys." Bad sign number one.
Bad sign number two: No spoons on the table. I returned last month from SE Asia, including a pretty brief stop in Bangkok, and quickly realized that the Thai--like many others in the region--eat with spoon and fork. (You probably all know this.) Not having a spoon put me on notice that this place was not going to be big on authenticity.
Bad sign number three: The prices. I don't eat Thai as often as I eat other Asian foods, but I'm pretty used to dishes being in the $10 (and sometimes under) range. Basic veggies with rice will set you back at least $12.
Bad sign number four: Our order got messed up. We opted for spring rolls for our appetizer, and were asked if we wanted fresh or fried. Since there were two to an order, we asked for one fresh and one fried. What arrived were two huge fried spring rolls. When I asked what happened to the fresh ones, the server said that they were coming. I said that we wanted one order of two different spring rolls. He said that he couldn't do that. (why didn't he say this when we ordered?) We cancelled the other order. I also ordered seaweed soup, and that never arrived. When I asked, the response was "oh, you ordered soup?"
And, the real bad sign: The Food.
The spring rolls were these huge affairs, sort of like those eggrolls that you get in 60s era Chinese restaurants. The inside resembled tuna fish with mayo, the kind you put on a sandwich with potato chips when you're a kid. I did manage to see and barely taste a piece of shrimp. One. No veggies, no crunch. They were greasy, and served with some sort of very sweet, very orange, duck sauce.
I ordered the eggplant with shitaki mushrooms (with tomatoes, onions, carrots, red peppers, and scallions--according to the menu). We opted for beef. (Choices include the standard beef, tofu, shrimp, etc.) What arrived was like something you'd make in a crockpot: a mound of heavily sauced beef, a few overcooked veggies--I don't remember the peppers or scallions, and a side order of rice. There were no herbs, spices, chilis, or other markers of Thai food. It was more like something you'd sop up with bread from a place like the Sip & Bite.
My friend got the pad thai, which was, admittedly, slightly better. She didn't want shrimp, only tofu. Unlike all pad thai I've ever had, the tofu came on the side. The noodles were just ok, a bit overcooked, a bit of pepper. The tofu was actually very good, and seemed coated with a hint of peanuts. It was, in short, pretty forgettable.
We skipped dessert. One can only imagine....
I'm incredibly disappointed since this place is about a 3 minute drive from my house. With so many good Thai places in our fair city, I'll drive the extra 15 minutes to Thai Arroy or Thai on Greenmount. And, I'll just wait a few months and hope that what emerges in its place is somewhere that merits a repeat visit.