Siam Inn is easily overlooked. The sign outside is small and humble; we nearly walked right by it. But for a happy, budget-friendly pre-theatre meal, Siam Inn is the ticket.
Both Zagat (“very plain decor” leads some to opt for the “excellent delivery”) and Michelin (“plain dining room”) take swipes at at the ambiance, but this is misleading. Okay, it’s not a decorator’s wet dream, like Vong or Spice Market, but Siam Inn is both pleasant and easy on the eyes. The banquettes are comfortable, the tables generously spaced. There are white tablecloths, and service was better than some two-star restaurants I’ve visited lately
In Michelin’s defense, they are tough graders on ambiance, or what they call “comfort.” Siam Inn receives two couverts on their one-to-five scale. That might not seem very good, but quite a few fine dining restaurants in New York have two couverts, such as Artisanal, David Burke & Donatella, and TriBeCa Grill, so Siam Inn is in pretty good company. Notwithstanding that, Michelin praised both the cuisine and the service, and it was an entry in the guide that led me to Siam Inn in the first place.
Anyhow, back to the restaurant: My friend and I shared an order of Thai Spring Rolls ($4.25), a generous and tasty portion that comes with three rolls, provocatively cut in half lengthwise, to show their innards.
Menu choices show between zero and three stars to indicate the degree of spiciness. I ordered a three-star special, Duck Basil ($19.95), which comes with Holy Basil, White Mushroom, Garlic and Chili. I would describe this as pleasantly hot, but not the fire-engine red associated with Sripraphai or some Indian curry houses. The duck slices (boneless, with the skin still on) were tender and moist. My friend had another hot duck dish, which looked very similar to mine, but with different vegetables and spices.
We both had a fun cocktail starter called a Blue Moon (sorry, I forget what was in it). The final bill, including tax but before tip, was about $62.
Siam Inn (854 Eighth Avenue between 51st & 52nd Streets, West Midtown)