We went with a group that turned out much larger than expected... 14 total with a grand sum of 6 rsvp'ing. Can I say how irritated I get when people don't respond? It is, to me, plain rude to not provide a host or organizer some perspective of how many s/he has to accommodate. It is not difficult to say "yes" or "no." In truth, I don't mind restaurant miscalculations as much as I mind house party miscounts but I'm on my rant box now. Back in the States, I had participants who had the nerve to say "I am very bad about rsvpíng because I can't decide." To me, that's a slap in the face, an "I'm waiting to see if anything more exciting gets planned instead." A simple "no" would have been enough.
Anyway, Bo.lan. We tend to go out to Italian restaurants.. they are the ones more conducive to a Friday evening dinner and drinks atmosphere and because it is far easier to find a mid-range Italian with cocktails. One guest found out early on that this restaurant's beer selection is rather limited. I believe Beer Laos was the one they failed to stock up on. Even their cocktail list seem limited although they do list all the liquors on hand, allowing us to specify any mixes.
Bo.lan is a chef's restaurant. The chef likes to dictate the contents of the dinner table. The recommended approach to dining is to go for the pricey set menu which includes four or more main courses to eat family style. Or Asian-style. The chef rotates his menu every two months, keeping the current selection small but encouraging fans to return for a variation.
The restaurant mandated, though, that all off the table had to get the set menu if anyone opts for it. In other words, we couldn't have three set menu portions then add a la carte dishes to supplement. So with that, we all ordered a la carte. Given that half the table were out-of-town visitors, we had trouble trying to convince them to open up and eat family style.
The chef clearly felt strongly about giving us a balanced selection. He went as far as to come out of the kitchen to talk to us. A farang chef cooking Thai food. He requested having the leeway to mix up the dishes for us because seven people ordered the same curry. (Gee, I wonder. Penang anyone??) Two of us, residents, didn't give anyone a chance to argue and promptly gave him our blessings. This also has got to be the first restaurant where we were asked upon ordering if we had any food allergies.
The food was delicious. The Thai dishes were all recognizable. But not blandly common. The spices were well blended yet very distinct. The portions were small, Thai size. We could have used four penang curries vice the two we ended up with. It truly was a gastronomic experience and one of the better, although, expensive Thai restaurants I have been, ever.