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Some restaurants have the buzz, and some don’t. Thalia is one of those restaurants that’s never mentioned on the food boards, but it carries a two-star NYT rating from 2000, and based on my visit there the other night, it deserves a lot more attention.

I started with the Seared Herb Crusted Tuna Sashimi, which comes with pickled vegetables, sweet soy, chive oil & hot mustard. (I am copying from their website, else my identification of the ingredients wouldn’t be so precise.) The tuna was wonderfully fresh, and the soy sauce, which artfully decorated the plate, added a tangy finish to the taste.

For the main course, I had the Jerked Florida Grouper, which is served with lump crabmeat pico de gallo, sweet plantains & chipotle pepper sauce. This too was a wonderfully inventive combination, giving life to a fish that I usually find dull.

I have to report that my friend was a bit less enthusiastic. She had the crab cakes appetizer and the rack of lamb entrée. No particular complaint, but she wasn’t as wowed by her choices as I was.

To conclude, we shared a Trio of Creme Brulee, which comes with three small servings of raspberry, lavender, and chocolate Pot de Creme. No complaint here, and at $10 a bargain.

Appetizers are $7-18 (the latter for a lobster salad; all others are $14 or less), entrées $13-27, and desserts $7-10 ($14 for the cheese tasting). There is also a raw bar, which we did not sample.

Service was prompt — perhaps to a fault. Our appetizers arrived seemingly within minutes, which was so quick that our server hadn’t yet arrived with the wine. The wine list seemed to us expensive in relation to the menu. We settled on a $38 red that was acceptable without being special. The next level up would have required us to spend quite a bit more, which we weren’t of a mind to do.

The noise level at Thalia was mercifully lower than at many restaurants I’ve tried lately, although there is still an audible buzz around the place. We enjoyed a leisurely meal and were able to hear ourselves talk, which is never a given in New York restaurants.

Thalia (828 Eighth Avenue at 50th Street, West Midtown)

Food: *
Service: *
Ambiance: *
Overall: *

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