Friday, May 2, 2008

A Quick Restaurant Review - Mali

Thursday night in Atlanta. There is the Leopard Lounge. Esso's is hot now. The guys at work got together at Hooters for a party for a guy transferring to another section. And Sporty and I ended up in Thailand via the Virginia Highlands. Sporty has always been into spicy food, the spicier the better. She enjoys it when we eat and I'm sweating at the table. So we ended up at Mali in the VA.

It's on Amsterdam, but don't be confused. It's not on the mini-mall down in the gully end, but on the other end tucked back in another semi-mini mall. They've got a little post office and dog groomer and a furniture store and like no parking. I lucked out and found a spot as the mini caravan of five of us made our rounds through the lot. It was like musical chairs as the guy in front got a spot when someone pulled out, I got a spot when someone else pulled out and the guy after me and so on.

Upon entering I realized something else. Mali is at 7/10ths scale. What I mean is that the restaurant is not built for normal sized people. Or to put it more bluntly, management really maximized the space. The waitresses are all waifs because it's the only way they can get through the tables. A crowded space is the term, but jammed up in there is more descriptive. Seated the back of my chair touched the chair of the lady sitting behind me. I felt a need to join in their conversation. I wanted to try the appetizer at the next table it was so close.

But no matter, again I go for the company, not the ambiance. For an appetizer we got these rolls with chicken and shrimp and the pork satay. Or it could have been chicken satay. Tasted kinda like pork. Maybe. Doesn't everything taste like chicken? They look exactly the same, chicken or pork. I noted in an odd time warp, the table next to us seated, after us, not only got their appetizers first but got to order first too and everything.

So difficult parking, crowded space, semi-bad service. Things are not looking good.

I got the beef curry and she got the Panang Chicken. But it's going okay otherwise, we're chit chatting and looking at each other funny, which we do sometimes and it's all okay. Then my food comes. And hers doesn't. For like ten minutes. I'm uncomfortable eating when my dinner partner isn't eating and the manager gave us the rigmarole - "I'm so sorry" ten times and cussing out the help - when her food did get there.

So difficult parking, crowded space, actually bad service....but good food.

The place's saving grace is the food. If they lose three tables in the main dining room and get a valet, this would have been sweet. The curry was spicy but not too much. The beef was tasty, the rice was sticky but not too much. It was like my sweet old Thai grandmother used to make...had I been Thai. Sporty thought it was good food too, but the service had soured the whole experience.

We got our to-go boxes, the bill didn't reflect our inconvenience with the service and Sporty wore heels. She rarely does that. I like them on her. I changes her walk, which I liked before, but it's a nice change. I like it either way.

So...good food. Crowded space. Difficult parking at peak hours - the parking lot was fine when we left at nine. Around the off the beaten path. But I was with Sporty...and with her I can get through anything.

Barkeep --- would you believe they had no sweet tea!

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