When I walked into Sweet Basil, the new Thai restaurant on Broadway, I opened the door into a woman and practically took off her right foot. She gathered her balance pretty well after that, but shot me one extremely nasty look. I smiled sheepishly.
After fighting my way through a crowd of 10 people huddled into about 3 square feet, I found my way to a table of four servers hovering over a waiting list. "Can I sign up here?" I asked. "Yes," said one woman. "But we'll have to charge you." I didn't understand. "Do you know how long the wait will be?" I asked. "No," said another of the servers. Then they laughed at me. "We don't actually work here," said the first woman finally. "We've just been organizing the list because no one else is doing it."
Obviously, the service and organization at Sweet Basil is lacking. Even so, I was willing to forgive them. I mean, they're only five months old and our server told us that it was her first weekend working. But the trouble didn't stop with the service. Our neighboring table had just received the Green Curry, which I ordered because it looked fantastic. But when it was brought to the table, it looked nothing like the order next to us, which was a bowl of creamy, coconut milk with lots of fun spices. No, my green curry was a bowl of spicy oil. The coconut milk, which is the most important feature, was simply not present, or at least not in the quantity it should have been.
To their credit, the rest of the meal was fantastic. We had huge, fresh spring rolls (Popia Tod) that were full of soft, flavorful tofu and complemented with crispy vegetables. And the Coconut Milk Soup was, unlike the curry, a deliciously balanced coconuty mix, bursting with fresh lemongrass, chilies, and kaffir leaves. And even though I don't usually like stir-fries, the Oriental Eggplant completely won me over.
Sweet Basil has the potential to be a fantastic, affordable restaurant; they serve a comprehensive menu of classy Thai food that rivals upper-class establishments like Typhoon and Lemongrass--but of course, these restaurants don't require the customers to have the patience of Job.