Pad See Eeeww: Bad Thai on Bleecker.

I’ll go on record as saying I’m inherently skeptical of any non-Italian restaurant in the West Village, merely because of the homogeneous crowds they often serve, and their emphasis on atmosphere over food.  Unfortunately, today’s lunch choice, Isle (on Bleecker St. near 7th Av. South) is just one of those.  A garage-like atmosphere of tables pushed far too close together is tolerable when the food is excellent, but a waste of time and money when it isn’t.

I had wanted a change of pace today – perhaps to counter the weather outside that could best be described as “mediocre.”  I had eaten at Isle many moons ago and, while not deeming it particularly excellent, thought that it at least had possibility.  As the astute reader will have surmised, I’ve been pleased with both Zabb and Myrtle Thai recently, particularly the former, and would relish the chance to find a somewhat decent Thai spot close enough to work to walk to.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I was wrong about Isle being possibly good.  It isn’t.  I’ve had more personable Thai food at Kai Kai, the excremental steam table chain, and at least that was cheaper.  Today’s selection was my new standard gringo-Thai favorite (i.e., not spicy): the cashew nut stir fry with some kind of meat – today’s was chicken.  A blander (other than un-natural sweetness) Asian stir-fry sauce you will never find, and just as at Myrtle Thai, the cashews remained sadly un-roasted – this is absolutely critical to the dish, and it baffles me as to why nobody outside Queens seems to bother.  Also included are slices of onion, red pepper, green squash, carrots, celery(?!?) and, for “authenticity’s” sake, straw mushrooms.  Of course, floating around in the soup-like sauce, no flavors hung together.  It’s sloppy, sloppy cooking, and not much different than the King Wok or Buddha House on 7th Av. South.

The lunchtime combo also came with rice, which was more mushy than sticky, and something called “chicken fritters” – these are actually the Sietsema-lauded appetizer known at Myrtle Thai as “Golden Bags.”  Not as good as Myrtle, but I’ve not been really impressed by these yet (obviously I haven’t been to Fulton Thai to check on Sietsema’s winning bags yet – full report when I do).

Obviously, for $7.59, this is an OK deal on volume (though much of said volume is in the lousy sauce on the stir fry and the standard-issue-but-why-would-I-need-this-much pint of rice), but I can’t recommend this place at all on its food merits.  If you’re stuck in this neighborhood, go to Burger Joint, Abbondanza, or Blue Ribbon Market – I beg you.

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