Sunday, November 19, 2006

Restaurant Review: Thai Basil, Piscataway, NJ

John and I have been to Thai Basil many times previously, but hadn't eaten there in a year. Apparently, a lot can change in a year.

This small Thai restaurant is squeezed into a strip mall across the street from a Walmart and a pretty good Italian pizza joint named Panini's. A year ago, the service was good, the food was reasonable and served pretty quickly. Not so this time.

John was served the wrong dish (or at least it seemed to be a far cry from the garlic and black pepper dish he'd ordered), and our server was the most obnoxious waitress I've ever experienced. I haven't had many run-ins with wait staff, or ever been treated so poorly as by the waitress we had yesterday.

For example, I had asked the owner (who alternated serving with the nasty waitress) to please pack up my soup because I was saving room for the course, but I liked it and wanted to have it later. She brought me my soup all packed up with no issue. After I'd finished my main dish, I asked the nasty waitress to please pack up the dish, but she refused and brought me a take-out container (too small for the large dish) and a bag. I'd never been asked to pack up my own dish there before. Plus, I really didn't want to take a chance off spilling on my clothes. Meanwhile, I saw her bring out wrapped up left-overs to other patrons at another table.

I brought it to her attention and she gave me attitude and commented back. When she left me to spoon up my own food (I really should have asked for the owner, but we didn't have time to go through it), I told John that her tip was in jeapordy because the service was so lousy. We'd waited longer than anyone else in the restaurant to receive our food, been treated poorly, etc. It was hard for us since we always tip 20-25% depending on the bill. However, we needed to express our displeasure (and frankly, shock) with the service. John tipped her $1. The bill was approximately $20.

Then we left. Or so we thought.

The nasty waitress came outside shouting after us and holding the bill, insisting that John remove the small tip if he didn't like the service. Shocked at the scene, I couldn't think of a thing to say. My knight in shining armor demonstrated why he is so classy. He said, "If you don't want it, just donate it," and we walked away. She called after us, "I hope I don't see you here again."

It was bizarre and unsettling to say the least. If we weren't in a hurry to catch a movie (we wouldn't have been if they'd served us in a timely fashion like the other customers -- we ordered very easy courses: vegetable fried rice and John's chicken with garlic and black pepper), I would have walked back in there and complained to the owner.

Instead, I'm sharing this icky service experience with you. We will not be going there again. It was such a shame since it was alright before. Good thing there are a few other Thai restaurants around that we like.

I've eaten in all kinds of places in a variety of different countries and almost always have experienced good, if not reasonably friendly service. Sure, we might have caught her on an off day, but this was really bad.

Afterward, we saw Borat and had a good, hard laugh. We needed it.


Anonymous said...

Even though it is absolutely NOT RIGHT that you had all this ickiness thrust upon you, and you, as victim, should NOT be in a position to spend any more energy on it, I hope you are able to forward this feedback on to the owner, who sounds like a reasonable human being. I could say that it's because it's The Right Thing To Do, because any owner would certainly want to know, but truthfully, you need your $21 back in your pocket with gift certificates for more, and (meanly) I want to hear that this waitress was FIRED.
No one deserves this kind of treatment....YOU, particularly, but even if you weren't fabulous, you PAID to be abused when eating out should be the most lovely and decadent of experiences. What the heck?

hereandthere123 said...

Thank you for commenting, Anonymous. I appreciate the support and feedback. If I do get a spare moment and am in the area where the restaurant is, I might just pay the owner a visit.

Anonymous said...

I went to Rutgers for my undergraduate degrees (I graduated in May) and lived on Busch campus, which is ten minutes from Thai Basil. My roommates and I LOVE the food (especially the dessert!) there and repeatedly frequented the restaurant; whenever I come home from graduate school we go back. We never had any problems. The owner is super-nice and I think the waitress problems are really communication problems; they don't speak english fluently. Although you should never deny your own experiences, others shouldn't be discouraged from trying this place! It seems like a hole-in-the-wall, but the food is good and lunch is extremely well priced.

hereandthere123 said...

I'm guessing that you're a different Anonymous than the previous one, given your comment. I'm going to change my preferences so that there are no anonymous postings in the future. It gets confusing, and people should feel safe enough to leave at least a nickname.

While I understand your point about potential language issues, what happened that day was not the result of ill communication. It was purely an extremely surly waitress. John and I postulated that she might have been (unfortunately for her) related to the owner of the establishment, given her sense of entitlement and generally poor attitude.

To respond directly to your comment, my review steers clear of discouraging others from trying the place, as you say above. What it does do is fairly and accurately describe a negative service experience despite the tasty food.

In my experience, no matter how good the food is, if a restaurant shows its patrons shabby service, they won't be getting my business.

Finally, at the beginning of my description, I note that I'd never been treated that way before at the restaurant. However, once bitten, twice shy.

Good luck, and I hope you don't get the same waitress we had on your next visit.

Anonymous said...

I am so surprised you had a bad experience! I just googled it to look up the number and came across your review... Thai Basil is one of my favorite restaurants in the area and I have never really had a problem. I think the food is great (compared to some of the other Thai places around) and the service is quick.

I wish you had a better experience :(

- Claire

Anonymous said...

I had worst lunch at this place as well. Food was just OK but service was HORRIBLE!!!Maybe I had the same obnoxious witeress.
If you want to spend 1hour 40 minutes for lunch you should go to this place