I thought that I would share my experiences of dining last night at Sukhothai, the new Thai restaurant in Raritan, NJ (RT. 206--Orlando Drive--in the Stop & Shop strip mall).
The decor was a very nice surprise, and was more stylish than one would expect in a strip mall restaurant--"real" wood paneling, oil portraits and old photographs of many Thai monarchs, very good lighting (if a bit too bright), overall very artistically done.
The food was good, although not outstanding. In comparision to the local Thai Kitchen chain (Bridgewater, Raritan, Hillsborough), I found Sukhothai's prices were higher, and the food was not quite as good as at Thai Kitchen.
My biggest problem was the inept service. As the older male server approached the table with our fish dish, I was able to see that he was not keeping the platter level, and that the fish was starting to slide toward the edge of the platter. Just like watching a car crash in slow motion and not being able to do anything to prevent it, I sat helplessly by as the fish came damn close to sliding off of the platter and onto the table. Luckily, he "saved" it just in time to avoid that from happening, but about 90% of the sauce showered down onto the floor, the table, and my shoe.
The server's only reaction was to mumble something about being scared. The sauce, which is normally one of the best things about a Thai dish, remained on the table, the floor, and my shoe. A competent server would have made a better attempt at any apology, would have performed some clean-up, and perhaps would have brought a vessel with some additional sauce for the fish. The fish was good (although not exceptional), but undoubtedly would have been better if the original quantity of sauce had remained. I should also add that the rice that was brought to the table was somewhere between luke-warm and cold upon arrival.
A few minutes later, the young female server came to refill our water goblets. Although she was very sweet and very polite, her dextrousness was no better than the older male server. She managed to dump the entire contents of the refilled water goblet onto my lap, with some also getting onto my coat which was sitting next to me on the banquette. She was very apologetic, and did her best to wipe up the water on the banquette. Unfortunately, the bulk of the water had already soaked into the front (and the seat) of my pants, soaking me through to my underwear, and down to my left knee. Clearly, not a desirable effect on a winter night.
I expected that we would have been offered a complementary dessert (or some other little favor) in order to give us a better feeling about our two "liquid" experiences at Sukhothai. However, no reward or compensation was offered.
So, despite their "decent" cooking, I have decided to avoid this restaurant for quite some time. Hopefully, they will get their act together. Hopefully, they will learn that customers need to be placated to some extent after being "dumped on" twice. Hopefully, they will adjust their prices downward by a couple of dollars per dish.
Since Thai Kitchen offers a better (and drier) experience, at lower prices, I will opt for one of their locations when I next get the desire for Thai food. As to Sukhothai--perhaps someday I will return, but that will not be for quite a while.