View of Spice Market

Spice Market

 212 675 2322

403 West 13th Street (near 9th Avenue)

UPDATE 12/14/04: After our awful experience at Spice Market we wondered if our experience was unique. Apparently, it was not. We received the following note from a fellow diner/sufferer:

I want to thank you for telling the truth about Spice Market despite the ridiculous hype flowing from The New York Times.  All told it is the worst place on earth.  I have been told that management deliberately over-books at 10PM even though it means leaving the restaurant half empty between 6:30PM and 9:30PM.  This is to make it appear "hot".  I have also been told that management supports a certain amount of rudeness from its staff.  Like the over-booking this is intended to make people feel lucky to be there.  I guess there are only so many too salty, too sweet or too spicy meals that can be served before Spice Market's reputation goes down-hill.  Or at least I hope so.  It is hard to think of an explanation for the good reviews except perhaps sexual favors or payola to reviewers.  Thanks again for the review. 

- MM at AOL

We wanted to go someplace special, someplace exotic, and golly gee whiz, Spice Market, down in the meat packing district, sounded special, exotic, and it was quite trendy. We dropped by and checked out the menu, since we have a distrust of trendy places, but the menu looked fairly good. There was a lot of Thai influence, but Jean Georges knows his away around the kitchen. After all, the Tabla Bread Bar looks like an ordinary Indian restaurant from a casual perusal of the menu. So, we made a reservation.

To start with, the meat packing district is quite trendy. The meat packers are still in flower, if that is the right term for their noisesome business, but they will most likely be sent packing soon enough. For now, the big trucks loading lamb, beef and veal give this area of high priced stores and trendy restaurants an aura of authenticity or something. It's kind of fun.

Spice Market itself is an attractive place. It is sort of hippie palace exotic, circa 1967, with lots of dark wood, couches, stuffed chairs, wood carvings, gazebos and the like. You saw spreads like this in Vogue, usually photographed in Morocco.

We checked in up front and were guided to our table. Our meal went downhill quickly.

Unfortunately, we had a party of five, but the tables generally had one couch and two stuffed chairs, so it was a tight fit. We asked the waiter if we could get another chair at the end of the table. He said that he couldn't, and that they usually seated six people at such tables. Luckily, the manager wandered by a few minutes later and provided us with another chair.

We won't go on about our waiter. He was terrible. The service was wretched. On the plus side, white wine doesn't stain.

The food was not much better. It was mediocre Thai food. We've had much better in Port Angeles! We had hoped for something like Tommy Tang's in Los Angeles, but with Jean George's reputation, we expected even better. What we got was a bit better than lunch table, but not by much. The best dishes were the chicken samosas and red curried duck, but these were not particularly impressive.

We were most disappointed. It might be worth dropping in for a drink when they aren't very busy, but it sure isn't worth dropping in for a meal.

REVIEW: 5 November 2004

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