Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thai a Roy D

Thai a Roy D is a small sheek little Thai eatery just off of third street around the corner from Colstone Square. When you walk in the first thing you will notice before even hitting the door are their lunch specials. They have a 4 item lunch menu that are only $6.50. The lunch specials include a salad or soup, the entree and a drink. It is honestly one of the best price to food ratios in downtown Bloomington. The rest of the Thai a Roy D menu is a smorgasboard of Thai options. There are a myriad of curries and stir fries, Thai soups and fried rices.

I have been to Thai a Roy D on a variety of occasions for lunch, but have never been for dinner. First I'd like to talk about the decor, because it is the first thing that is really striking. Mainly the lack of decor. The space is clean and minimalistic. There are two rooms, and a great deal of fairly warm natural wood. The tables all have table cloths and glass over them for easy cleaning. The thing about this restaurant is that it doesn't feel Thai. In fact it doesn't feel particularly anything. You could be in a Greek place as easily as a Thai restaurant. In most cases I don't like this sort of approach. I like an eatery to have a certain amount of character. In this case though it really works. While there isn't anything overtly Asian or Thai about the restaurant there is a certain Asian minimalist pleasantness that is present. It's difficult to describe, but I find the location to be very clean and inviting. Partially the natural wood, and old building keep the space from feeling sterile, which makes the minimalist approach work out well.

The service at Thai a Roy D has always been excellent. The same woman has waited my table for the last 3-4 times I've gone to get lunch there, and she's always friendly, prompt and honestly a bit on the funny side. She's always very happy to see everyone who comes in, and is exceptionally enthusiastic about our orders, and bringing us our food, while being very casual and pleasant at the same time. All in all an excellent server. The few times I've had a different server the standards have been no lower, if maybe a little less chipper.

The crux of the experience at any eatery though is the food. On this front there are kind of two different standards I have to apply. The first is for the lunch specials. It's difficult to be terribly picky when you're talking $6.50 for soup or salad, an entree and a drink. I usually get the lunch special when I go, and it's well worth it. The flavors are bold. When you order a 5 (the Bloomington heat scale which I assume my readers are familiar with) you get a 5, and the quantity is incredibly generous for the cost. That is the good, the bad is that there is a certain mass produced element to the lunch specials. Some of the ingredients are obviously frozen vegetables, and the salad is mostly iceberg. The dressing on the salad is amazing, and unique though they apply it a bit liberally for the portion of salad. Really for the lunch specials you are paying for really high quality Asian fast food, and you get that and far more. It's not perfect, but it's still an amazing deal for the price, and you get a quality restaurant setting that is much nicer than the price you are paying as a bonus.

The main menu is a bit more expensive than the lunch specials. The average price on the dinner menu which is still available at lunch is around $9. The options are expansive, and the flavors do not disappoint. When you purchase from the main menu the meal does not come with a salad and free drink, but the portion and uniqueness of the entrees are a considerable improvement over the lunch menu. Curries, and stir fries, and delightful fried rices unlike anything you'll ever get in an American Chinese joint. The best part is the price point is considerably more approachable than some of the other Thai spots in town like Esan Thai. $9 is much more reasonable for dinner than $12, and the experience will not disappoint. I've never had anything that felt greasy, or heavy or poorly balanced from Thai a Roy D's menu, and it has kept me returning for more.

In conclusion this is a solid staple for anyone's restaurant portfolio. It's not really fancy enough to be a date spot, and not casual enough to go hang with the boys or girls, but if you just want to take your friends or parents somewhere nice and affordable to enjoy a meal and catch up this is a spot to hit. I definitely recommend it.

Ambiance: 4 of 5
Service: 5 of 5
Food Quality: 4 of 5
Flavor Quality: 5 of 5
Cost/Value 5 of 5