An obtuse purple building sitting awkwardly on the corner of Grimshaw and Plenty Road in Bundoora houses Narai Thai. We’ve known it’s been there for a long time, we even have friends that frequent and say how lovely it is, but only recently did we finally decide to work out where to park and have lunch there.
Up a set of stairs and into a small waiting area, we go through a second set of doors into a mock-aflresco dining area. No one there to greet us, we’re a little confused what to do; but then we look to our right and see the formal dining area, complete with all the trimmings: traditionally dressed hostess, large bar and tables as far as the eye can see. What the exterior lacks in curb appeal, the formal interior makes up for triple-fold: fitted out much nicer than most, full of comfortable chairs, Narai Thai has all the promise of a brilliant dining experience.
Although I think there was music playing, the atmosphere (despite the great adornments) was lacking significantly. Perhaps that was because we were only one of two tables taking advantage of the lunch special. It’s hard to get a friendly, cozy feel in such a cavernous dining room, regardless of how nice it looks.
The service was barely okay, the attitudes just didn’t match the way these ladies looked. They didn’t do anything wrong, but they didn’t really do anything right either. No smiling, no explanation of the lunch menu, quick to-and-fro from our table once we ordered. Speaking of, we got the 2-course lunch special for $20.90 each, plus a glass of wine (can’t remember the price on that, sorry)
My lunch special consisted of two little vegetable curry puffs, which had a yummy filling; and a nice vegetable rendition of a Mussaman curry with a heart-shaped dollop of rice. Shawn’s 2-course meal was the Thai fish cakes (pretty good in taste & texture) and Chili & Sweet Basil Beef which was again, pretty good. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget, he got the same heart-shaped rice too – so looks like I wasn’t that special after all! ha!
|Vegetable Curry Puffs|
Hoping to end a decent meal with chirpier service, we go up to the bar, where a lady sits behind the register, to pay. We smile and say, “that was nice” and she nods her head back in acknowledgement, rings up the bill and places it in front of us without saying anything. We pay the bill and leave. No words exchanged. Bummer. Seems like these ladies aren’t easy to impress, and aren’t eager to impress either.
|Chili & Sweet Basil Beef|
|Vegetable Mussaman Curry|
So, we go from not impressed with the curb appeal, to impressed with the formal dining area. Not impressed with the service to impressed with the food. Then back to not impressed with the service again. It was a very tiring lunch! hahaha!
All in all though, from the small sampling (I say small, because it was all a bit on the tiny side) of food we had, Narai Thai falls squarely into the pretty good category; you know, above standard but not a knock-down experience. Please note though, that ambiance and service make up a big part of whether or not we rate a place highly; given it was quiet and lunchtime – we realize we might have gone on Cranky Day. So, we’re not opposed to going back for dinner to try again. Maybe the night crew will be happier 😉
Atmosphere: ★★★★★ ✔