food · international

Review: Absolute Thai Restaurant

A few days ago, I went out for lunch because, well, I needed a break from the office LOL! I decided to try Absolute Thai restaurant (which is different from Absolute Noodle, which I’ve reviewed previously). I figured I would treat myself, since I hadn’t gone there in years and I remember that I enjoyed their food before.

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The restaurant is conveniently located right behind the Verizon Center, at the corner of 6th and G Streets NW. It’s a 3 minute walk from the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop to the restaurant’s front door. Like many of the restaurant in this area, there isn’t a lot of interior space but the restaurant does a good job of maximizing what’s there.

The first issue was the time it took to be acknowledged by the staff. I waited at the door for at least 3 or more minutes while 3 waitstaff members were milling around and not looking toward the door. 3 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot, except standard restaurant procedure is to acknowledge guests within 30 seconds of arrival (that’s why most restaurants have a designated host/ess that spends the majority of the time at the door). The hostess was nowhere to be seen during the 12 o’clock hour (crazy, right?) I received no assurance that I would be helped momentarily, nor any other acknowledgement. I wasn’t acknowledged until two gentlemen arrived and, as they waited behind me, the staff must have assumed that we were all together, and then someone spoke to us.

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Gilded artwork in the restaurant

I ordered the Thai tea lemonade (basically, a Thai version of the Arnold Palmer or, if you’re from DC, a half-and-half),  tom yum goong soup and the “Jungle” entree, a mix of bamboo, eggplant, peppers, basil and green beans. I asked to reduce the heat of the entree from the standard “hot” level to “medium”.

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My yummy Thai tea lemonade

My tea lemonade arrived quickly. It was a little sweeter than I expected, but very good. Kudos to the restaurant for adding a moderate amount of ice – I really feel like I got a lot for the cost. The beverage was ample and tasty.

I then got my soup. It looked a little creamier than I anticipated, so I tasted it. I order tom yum but the server delivered tom kha (a coconut based soup). I actually like tom kha but I’m unable to eat a full-sized bowl because the coconut milk is a bit too rich for me. It took a moment, but the server returned and when I pointed out the error, she was pleasant and immediately returned it to the kitchen. My new soup arrived several minutes later, and it didn’t disappoint.

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The Jungle entree: this is where things started going downhill

Next was my entree which, I’ll admit, is when I realized that I may have to give my first negative restaurant review (I know, I’m shocked that I have to do it, too). The dish was far too spicy to be “medium”. I’ve eaten Thai food regularly for about 15 years, and I’ve eaten at a variety of Thai restaurants – including this one in the past! – so I have a good handle on spice levels. This dish had not been adjusted to medium-spicy level. When I pointed this out to the server, she didn’t seem to comprehend what I was saying, though she repeated my order back to me at the beginning of the meal. I could only take a few bites before I told her that I would take the entree back to my office and rinse off the spice, which is what I did. It was still a little hotter than my normal but at least the heat was tolerable after the rinsing.

Overall, the experience was just okay. The food was good and fresh, and the order arrived in a reasonable amount of time. But the time it took just to have a staff member acknowledge that I was there, and having two big food mistakes in one meal was a bit more than I’m willing to overlook. I don’t think I’ll be returning to Absolute Thai any time soon. After all, there are several other Thai restaurants in the area – and an overall plethora of them in DC – that will get my order correct on the first go round.

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