From a pleasing experience on a busy Wednesday night two months ago, to a terrible early evening on a recent Saturday, I have experienced is a tale of twoLotus Garden
s. It was like stepping into the twilight zone. Only two things remained the same: the roving owner and the physical restaurant. Accurate and speedy service was traded for abysmal, lagging help. And the charming atmosphere of a packed house enjoying Thai cuisine on the second occasion felt more like sitting at a table for two in someone's living room, as the view included staff horsing around and children playing audible games on the Internet at the bar.
On visit two, it took nearly fifteen minutes for the first course, the yum neau salad ($8.95), to arrive. There was nothing unsatisfactory about the grilled, sliced beef marinated in herbs and spices, to a medium spice tolerance. It was served with decent tomatoes, onions, scallions, and cucumbers. But the "bed of lettuce," upon which the aforementioned ingredients laid, was nothing more than an air mattress of wilted romaine.
Seeing as there was only one other table in the dining room, one had to wonder why it took two servers about ten minutes to clear empty salad plates and fire up the second course, which took ten minutes, after clearing, to arrive. The massaman curry ($16.95), available with beef or chicken, was simmered in massman curry with coconut milk, potato, avocado, peanuts, and onions. The dish had good flavor, a medium spice tolerance, and enough chicken and potatoes to satisfy two. The requested side of white rice was not delivered with the entree. Indeed the server asked whether we would like white or brown rice after the entree was on the table. When we reiterated white, the server showed up with a silver punch bowl full of the stuff, scooped out a generous portion for each of us, then returned to the kitchen -- with the silver container.
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After we finished the entree plates, they sat untouched for almost ten minutes before being cleared. As the bowl of massaman curry was lifted from the table, the server asked, "What was this that you ordered?" Playing dumb, the response was, "I don't really know what it was..." With empty bowl of massaman curry in hand, the server walked up to the presumptive owner and asked, "What did they eat?," pointing at the bowl.
318 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables