Walking by Room Service for the first time, it’s easy to suspect this snazzily-designed space is Chelsea’s newest gay bar/lounge. First off, there’s the location – in the midst of Chelsea’s so-called runway. Then, factor in he glittery silvery tiles on the exterior entryway, the Phillipe Starck-like purple chairs, the faux Louis XVI dressers, the decorative doors that say things like “Room 83B,” not to mention the attractive male couple sitting in the window. But first or even second impressions can be deceiving. Room Service is, in fact, a Thai restaurant. Moreover, it is a remarkably inexpensive one serving stylishly presented food in plush surroundings.
The menu is extremely extensive, so you might want to sip one of the house’s cocktails, a traditional Thai beer, or the sweet and refreshing Thai Iced Tea will making your decision. If a lot of the appetizers sound appealing, settle for the assorted golden fritters platter. For a mere $6, you get four ingot-sized servings of fried tofu, a pair of pleasing roasted corn spring rolls, one nicely “blanketed” shrimp, and a pair of excellent shrimp and chicken dumplings, all coated in a well-balanced sweet chili sauce. Needless to say, two diners can share these goodies.
A must-have smarter (or nicely light meal) is the superb crispy duck salad – also a bargain at $6 – with pieces of the tasty fowl accented by romaine lettuce, cashews, pineapple chunks, red onion, and tomato and in a zesty dressing of ginger and lime juice. Poultry fans will also be pleased by a frequent special of two grilled chicken breasts coated in a mango-lemongrass glaze served with jasmine rice.
I tend to judge Thai restaurants by their Pad Thai, and while Room Service doesn’t get a blue ribbon for its version of the national noodle dish, it at least deserves honorable mention. The portion was quite generous – especially the six shrimp – but the egg seemed a bit overcooked, giving off a slightly burnt taste.
It should be noted that Room Service offers customers a wide variety of vegetarian options, including dishes made with imitation duck; and while we were too full for dessert, I was heartened to see chocolate mousse cake and a pumpkin flan listed as options, along with ice cream and traditional Thai cakes. Like the best hotels, Room Service aims to please.