166 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 691-0299

There seems to be an inordinately large number of restaurants in Chelsea that value their menu secondary to their vibe. These restaurants want to be mini-clubs. The music is loud, the interior design is exaggerated, and sex appeal trumps the menu. Take Elmo. It's flat-out awful. But it's sexy, so people go there. Similarly, Room Service, here in Chelsea, like it's Hell's Kitchen duplicate, is not, I learned, where one goes to eat food. Here, atmosphere is the priority.

Deep down, Room Service is where you go when you want to feel like you're eating in a tacky club (patron in point: sketchy guy in a wife-beater eating dinner at the bar). Given the volume of the music, the need to scream at the other people at your table, a crystal chandelier, a disco ball, the lonely hanging bubble chair in the window and tables placed behind hotel-room style doors, I wouldn't have been surprised in the least if bachelorette parties were offered the option of male strippers waiting their table in rhinestone thongs. It appears that Room Service is yet another Thai restaurant hoping to out-trend the other trendy Thai restaurants. There's no theme here without really reaching, and all I could come up with was a Rococo version of the British TV series, The Prisoner. And what that has to do with Thai food is anyone's guess.

The meal for Bro and myself started simply enough with an order of Curry Puffs, a curry flavored chicken and potato dumpling-like dish. They were quite good and if I had only made five orders of them, I'd have left a happy bloke. Instead, we also tried the Golden Triangle, deep fried shrimp, chicken and water chestnut ninja star. Taste-wise, it wasn't so bad, but it was three-quarters fried dough with a teeny little pocket of filling. I also ordered the Lemongrass Soup, a tangy sweet and sour soup with mushrooms, lime, and chili. It was somewhat spicy, but despite this, more than somewhat bland.

While we waited for dinner, our neighbors got a friend who didn't want any food but did want to squeeze in next to me on the long bench seat. Lucky me, I got to have this guy pressed up against me for a half hour while he described his fabulous day, the fabulous gallery opening he went to and gossiped about his fabulous friends, occasionally standing up and sticking his fabulous ass in my face and waving his fabulous arms so he could emote that extra little bit. As it turns out, he did not help me enjoy my meal. I know that this guy wasn't the restaurant's fault, per se, but he did reflect the atmosphere and his actions (and on two occasions, his elbows) affected my dinner.

My entree was the Pomegranate Walnut Duck, roast duck, walnuts, and greens in a pomegranate sauce under a huge bed of coral-shaped rice twists. The duck was chewy and mediocre and that's about all I have to say about that. I regretted getting it once I bit down. Bro ordered the Tamarind Seafood, stir-fried seafood and vegetables over a bed of steamed broccoli. When I asked how it was, he made a face. Tasteless, he said. That said, he liked my dish more than I did, and I liked his dish more than he did. Thusly did we trade. I ate the seafood that he didn't like and he ate the duck that I didn't like. I guess we were both happier, though neither of us got to the point of actually being happy.

Wanting to leave sooner rather than later, we skipped dessert.

One soup, two appetizers, two entrees and two beers, plus tax and tip came to $70.

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