Royal Thai is located just off of West End Ave surrounded by offices. I guess it's mostly a lunch place, but we went for dinner. We were planning on going to the 7:30-10pm open skate at the local ice rink afterward for date night. We hadn't really had much good quality time together that week so we were both really looking forward to this. Royal Thai was located near the rink and they had a deal on Scout Mob for 50% off. Steve went there a few years ago when he lived in the area and said we should try it. Why not? Below, I'll explain the reasons why you should never visit Royal Thai.
I'll give it up for the decorator, the inside of Royal Thai is pretty cute. They have nice floor-to-ceiling murals and lots of kitsch and character. If you were to judge a place on decor, you would expect this place to be the bee's knees. But this is just another lesson in "don't judge a book by its cover." (Or more precisely, don't judge a Thai Restaurant by its murals.)
Look at the lovely portable heater just hanging out in the corner. It really adds to the ambiance.
When we arrived there were 3 other people in the restaurant. By the time we got our menus everyone was gone and we were the only people there. At 7:30 on a Friday night we were the only people in this place. Not a good sign. The worst part was that the place was completely silent. Eerily silent. No background music, no chatter, nothing. Every word I said bounced off the walls and I'm sure our waiter could hear everything (and maybe even the kitchen staff). I was so put-off by the silence that we decided to take matters into our own hands. We opened up Spotify on my phone and started DJing our table. I would normally NEVER EVER do this, but there was no one else there so I was 100% sure that we were not pissing anyone off.
I kept thinking about how terrible of a place Royal Thai would be for a first date. It was so empty and creepy silent that if someone took me here I would be afraid that the date would end with me being abducted. I could see myself texting girlfriends from the bathroom asking them to get me out of this situation.
We were hungry so we ordered the pork spring rolls. They came to the table fairly quickly which was a plus. The roasted pork inside the spring roll had good flavor, and the dipping sauce was good. Unfortunately the spring roll was mostly lettuce and cabbage and the normal delicious ratio was off. They were also really cold which made me think that they were pre-made and just chilling in the refrigerator. How hard is it to roll some spring rolls to order?
Steve ordered a Thai Ice Tea. It was typical, but a little too sweet for me. Steve liked it.
At this point I guess our waiter was totally bored so he decided to take a break. He got his own Thai ice tea and sat down at the table across from us. He took out his cell phone and I guess he was checking facebook/texting/anything that wasn't his actual job. Good to know that the ONE STAFF MEMBER feels totally comfortable to just kick-back on the job. At least go to the kitchen area or something.
Steve ordered the duck curry which was supposed to be roasted duck in red curry. What arrived was not duck curry at all, but a totally different dish, roasted duck. When we both looked very confused, the waiter realized what was wrong and said something like, "yah, that isn't what you ordered...umm...I can take it back." But Steve was hungry and decided to just eat what they gave him. I would totally pass this off as a normal mistake, but honestly, how?! We were the only people there so they weren't busy. This is just total incompetence. The duck itself tasted like it was made ages ago and defrosted. The brown sauce it was covered in was pretty salty, probably to cover up the freezer burn.
This is the plate of rice that accompanied the duck dish. No really, this is how it arrived. Completely mangled like someone already took a bite out of it. If you aren't going to plate the rice nicely, just serve it in a bowl as one giant scoop.
I ordered the Pad Woon Sen with beef. The description said it was "Bean Thread Noodles stir fried with our house Soy Base Sauce" but didn't say it came with any vegetables. All of the other noodle dishes on the menu listed the vegetables that were in the dish, so I asked the waiter if it came with veggies because I didn't want noodles only. The waiter was unsure if this dish had vegetables (WTF?) and went to ask the kitchen. He came back and listed off a bunch of good stuff so I went ahead and ordered it.
What I received was not Pad Woon Sen, but a pile of mushy brown stuff that was inedible. It was so salty I could feel the salt crystals burning into my lips, cheeks and tongue. This dish was hurting me! I asked Steve to try it because I know that I'm more sensitive than average to salt, but even he agreed with me that the dish was just too salty.
So I sat their pouting, feeling really bad. I was upset because I couldn't eat dinner and that our nice date-night out wasn't going as planned. The waiter looked in our direction and noticed that I wasn't eating and asked what was wrong. I told him that the dish was just way too salty and inedible. While he said they could re-make it, I was so pissed off at this point that we just asked for a bunch of to-go boxes. Steve and I packed up our food without eating it.
While we did get the Scout Mob discount, we got no money off the check and no apology for the quality of the food or our experience. I guess it's a common thing at Royal Thai that patrons immediately leave after their food hits the table. Since we didn't really get to eat dinner #1, we had to come up with an option for dinner #2.
So Steve and I went to our favorite Indian place Woodlands where we knew that we would get excellent food and service. I mean, look at my face! AM SO HAPPY FOR SAAG PANEER. But because dinner #1 was an EPIC FAIL and we had to have dinner #2, we missed ice skating. I guess the moral of the story is: If you want to eat at Royal Thai and plan on doing something after, make sure you leave enough time for eating your real dinner somewhere else.
After 4 years of living in Nashville, Royal Thai gets the prize for the worst dining experience. It's definitely the worst Thai Food I ever had and it's pretty high on the list of not-so-great customer service experiences. The prices for dishes were also way too expensive for what you got. If I'm paying $15 for duck curry, I would like the duck to not taste like the back of your deep freezer. For that much money I could go to whole foods and get myself a whole damn duck and roast it to perfection.
Royal Thai? More like Plebian Thai. Just don't go.