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Siam Thai (Lambertville NJ)

Dinner the other night at Siam Thai in Lambertville was a total disappointment in every way. I had heard good things about this small restaurant slightly outside the main drag of "downtown" Lambertville.

The staff was cold, aloof and unfriendly, and were being quite snobbish about squeezing people in since they were "totally booked" for the evening, yet at 7pm when we left (they open at 6pm) there were approximately 75 % EMPTY tables.

We ordered a Tom Kha Gai soup to begin. The soup lacked everything good about this standard. It was not terribly warm even though we specifically asked for it (temperature) extra hot and came with two ice-cold bowls for us to split it into. It tasted like they took some hot water, added fish sauce and the thin liquid from coconut milk (not even the nice thick "milk"), threw in one lonely piece of galangal, and a couple chunks of gristly dark and white meat chicken.

Next, we shared an appetizer special of "Spicy Thai Shrimp Cakes" which our unfriendly waitress was kind enough to inform us in advance that they were "dense and chewy" (as opposed to what, light and crispy perhaps?). The 6 dollar order contained 4 measly thumb-sized "cakes" which looked, and sadly even tasted, like the chicken nuggets you could get at Burger King, They were lukewarm, soggy, flavorless barely tasting of shrimp, on a piece of wet lettuce, with a tiny dish of chopped cucumber and onion.

For an entree my companion had a Shrimp with thai basil dish, which was mediocre at best. 6 or 7 small shrimp in a basil-garlic-whatever generic sauce, with a couple slices of jalapeno and red peppers, topped with some fresh basil.

I ordered a grilled grouper with tamarind sauce, garlic and chilis. On a small dish was a filet of grouper, on top of which they had spooned some sauce. The sauce was sickly-sweet, syrupy and almost gooey, and tasted like tamarind-flavored cough syrup. On top, they had slivers of "roasted" garlic, the kind of half-crunchy-half-soggy kind you get when you accidentally burn the garlic in oil.

On top of everything else that was wrong with the meal, they served steamed WHITE rice. Not even Jasmine rice !!!!

We didn't feel the need to leave a tip, which we very rarely do, but the service was lackluster at best. The waitress actually chased us out the door and down the street, shouting that we did not leave her a tip !!!

There is a much better Siam Thai (apparently NOT affiliated with the Lambertville one) located in Buckingham township outside Lahaska. Safe to say, we'll leave the Lambertville location to tourist rubes.

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  1. That's a shame. I don't live in the area anymore, But I believe this is the same place my husband and I used to go to -- 8-10 years ago. It used to be quite good -- with strong flavors and fresh ingredients.

    1. The one in Buckingham is very good. My husband and I have been there twice and even though there's one guy acting as host, bartender and waiter, he could not be more friendly. On our second visit (which happened to be our first wedding anniversary) we must have been acting all lovey-dovey because he asked if we had just gotten married.

      We probably won't go to the one in Buckingham again, though, because we moved to Newtown and they have a location there as well, literally down the street from our house. We haven't tried it yet, but I'm hoping it's as good as the Buckingham location.

      1. Hey Sarah we seem to go to a lot of the same places in the Hunterdon / Bucks county areas and I always enjoy and respect your comments.

        I ~think~ we may have been eating one nite at the same time you were in Cross Culture the Indian place in Lahaska. (does your husband have glasses?). Cross Culture, by the way, has very good food, but the price point is way too high for that location. The clueless tourists that flood the area don't want / are scared by the cuisine, and will opt for the Golden Trough across the street for a cheap comfort meal.

        Anyway. I digress, I just had dinner at the Buckingham Siam Thai again tonite and it was very very good. They had a waitress not just the host guy hah hah.

        Just wanted to touch base and say Hello.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sethboy

          Hey Seth. Thank you...I respect your comments as well.

          We've only been to Cross Culture once and it was for lunch - in mid-October - so I don't think it was us. But now that you mention it, I do worry about them surviving. The Peddler's Village crowd (with their kids in tow) seem more likely to patronize a pub-style restaurant than be adventurous and try something new. I've told a few friends about them and they've all been and raved, so maybe there's hope for them yet.

          We need to get over to Siam Thai again (although I do want to try the one in Newtown since it's right down the street from our house). I'm glad to hear the Buckingham location has a waitress now! :)

        2. I went there last summer based upon favorable reviews and was completely disappointed with everything we got. I mean I was really surprised. I don't even recall what we had but I do know two of us shared several dishes and a soup and weren't impressed by any of it. I think it's the first time I ever went to a Thai restaurant where I didn't have at least something I liked. And the place was packed too. I didn't know there was another decent Thai restaurant within 30 miles of Lambertville. I never tried the one in Buckingham, which is pretty close to Lambertville.

          1. I am sorry to hear that you had a bad experience at Siam. Unfortunately, I have heard several other people say this lately. However, I eat there often and think the food is great. I always get the chicken skewers with peanut dipping sauce for an appetizer and either thai curry chicken or pork with peanut sauce for an entree. And the coconut ice cream is amazing for dessert. It is defnitely not a place that you would go to for the atmosphere and some of the waitresses can be rude, but it is SO cheap and a BYOB where you can get great food. I have tried the Siam in Buckingham and didn't think that the food was nearly as good as the place in Lambertville. And I was cracking up at the comment about the same guy being the host, waiter and bartender because I had the same thought when I was there. I think you should give Siam in Lambertville another try and order according to my recommendations.

            14 Replies
            1. re: rainking2007

              We also don't enjoy Siam in Lambertville anymore. My DH and I used to go fairly often years ago and loved it - the staff was friendly, the food was terrific, the prices were great - all in charming Lambertville. But the last two times we went we had the same miserable experience as other posters here - surly staff and pretty terrible food in miserly portions. We will not be going back.

              1. re: flourgirl

                Wow, I'm glad it's not just me. I was there for the first time for lunch a few weeks ago. The food was soso, but the service was not great at all. I felt like I was intruding--although they weren't too busy (maybe four tables in use).
                I had heard that there's another Thai restaurant in Lambertville now. Is that true?

                1. re: emcd

                  If there is another Thai restaurant in Lambertville, I'm not familiar with it.

                  1. re: flourgirl

                    Thai Tida has only been open about 1 month and is on N. Main Street beyond Bell's Restaurant as you are heading away from town. Pass Elm Street and it is on the right. You can't miss the brightly colored fake flowers in the flower boxes. I have been there twice and tried the fish cakes (spongy but authentic), chicken satay (fabulous), fried spring rolls (light on filling), and chicken with coconut curry sauce (a little on the sweet side but tasty). There are only about 12 - 15 tables so make a reservation on the weekend. It is BYOB and the prices are very reasonable. The staff was friendly. I live nearby and am looking forward to trying many of their dishes.

                    1. re: ccelia

                      Thanks so much for this post. Thai Tida restaurant sounds promising. Do you know if it's connected to any other Thai places? The name is unique (at least to me) so maybe it's a stand alone establishment.

                      Added edit: Did you note any Laotian menu items?

                      1. re: ambrose

                        I don't believe it is connected to any other Thai places. And, yes, I am pretty certain that they had a section towards the back of the menu with Laotian entrees. That is what I will be trying next.

                      2. re: ccelia

                        Thank you so much ccelia! My family and I are definitely going to try this place.

                    2. re: emcd

                      Check out the following link. I know nothing about this place and the information provided is sparse indeed! I suspect there are also Thai places across the river in New Hope.

                      http://www.thaitida.com/

                      1. re: ambrose

                        I had seen that Web site, but now I'm just going to have to investigate. Thanks for the push, Ambrose!

                        1. re: emcd

                          Let us know what you discover about Thai Tida. It's supposed to also serve Laotian food. Now that could be interesting, assuming it's authentic. My experience with most restaurants that claim to serve different types of Asian cuisine is that they end up doing none of them well!

                          1. re: ambrose

                            Yes, emcd, please let us know how your experience was if you go.

                            Unfortunately though, my experience has generally been the same as ambrose. There's a place in New Hope, across the river, (it's name escapes me at the moment - maybe it's Wildflowers?)) that serves all kinds of Asian cuisine, along with comfort American food, like meatloaf. The menu's like a book, and the one time we went, I had Thai there and I thought it was OK at best.

                            1. re: flourgirl

                              I'm new to the area (in exile from North Jersey), but I routinely light a candle in hopes of having a good Vietnamese within a short drive. To me, Laotian/Cambodian means someone is listening.
                              My food voodoo has worked so far in terms of my my kaffir leaf supply--I hear a Whole Foods is coming to the intersection of 263 and 313.

                              1. re: emcd

                                O.K. now my ears just perked up. Where is the intersection of 263 & 313?

                                And welcome to the area - we love it. We're in Hunterdon, not Mercer, but close enough.

                                I hope that food voodoo keeps workin' for ya!

                      2. re: emcd

                        I was at Siam about 15 months ago, and it was okay. I used to eat there regularly about 20 years ago, but once it caught on, I could never make a reservation. They took the phone off the hook. Sad to hear it has gone so downhill.

                        Within 30 minutes of Lambertville is Pru, in Clinton. It's quite good, and the owners and servers are very accommodating. I always order the squid appetizer. Next store is Pru Tea, and they have the best tea selection in all of NJ, as well as some fine desserts and a hugely nice person behind the counter, who is the wife of the owner.

                  2. This saddens me. Sometimes the kitchen can have an off night but there's no excuse for consistently subpar food and even less of one for rude service.

                    I love the Lambertville area, having spent my honeymoon there at a B&B nearby.

                    I really do hope there are still plenty of other interesting places to eat the next time we go up.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: newbatgirl

                      It made us sad too. We also love Lambertville (we only live about 10-15 min. from there) and this used to be one of our favorite places.

                      There are quite a few restaurants in Lambertville - but I can't speak for many of them because we just don't get out as much as we used to, but Hamilton's Grill Room remains a favorite of ours (although much pricier than Siam!) We've also always liked the Inn at the Swan but haven't been there recently.

                    2. Unfortunately, Hamilton's has seen it's day. It has become too touristy, the food is disappointing and the servers all have an attitude. No. 9 is a great restaurant to try...their short ribs are amazing! I haven't tried the new thai restaurant, but I am looking forward to it.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: rainking2007

                        Admittedly, we haven't been to Hamilton's recently. Our last experience there was a good one, though, food was very good, staff great, but it has been a while. When was the last time you were there that you had such a disappointing experience?

                        1. re: flourgirl

                          We have had a similar experience at Hamilton's lately. It used to be our go-to restaurant for every special occasion. Ten years ago, the wait staff was all a little older, a little more experienced and professional. For me, at least, that level of professionalism helped make a special occasion truly special. The last time my husband and I were there was Oct. 2006, for our anniversary. The food was simply amazing, the best it's been in recent memory. And while there was nothing inherently wrong with the service, it just wasn't the same level of professionalism we'd come to expect. Our waiter (in fact all the waitstaff) looked like college kids and while he did everything "right" it was like he was working in TGI Fridays instead of Hamilton's - way too "friendly" in that chain restaurant way. He also knew nothing about the food and it wasn't because it was his first week on the job. Add to that the fact that the prices have risen significantly in the past few years and it's just not a place we go to anymore. It's a shame because Mark (the grill man) does an amazing job and the food, when everyone is "on," really is fantastic.

                          1. re: SarahEats

                            It has gotten really expensive - and it wasn't exactly cheap to begin with. One of the reasons we don't get there that often. But that was around the last time we were there too. It was early October and really warm. We were able to sit at a table on the glassed-in patio and all the doors were open. It was really lovely and we had a terrific time. (I have not noticed the issues with the waitstaff that you mentioned.) The only thing that marred our night there that time was the fact that there was a table of about 6 seated near us who were drinking excessively and got progressively more boisterous as the night went on. (My DH was getting a little upset.) We had our 5 yr old son with us and I remember our server giving us a big stack of cookies at the end of the meal & remarking that our son had been much better behaved then the folks at that table. (Our son is used to going to nice restaurants...apparently these people weren't.)

                      2. Based on recommendations, I have visited Siam Thai several times now. Each time I try something different, thinking that I've just been ordering the 'wrong' things. I find the food less than mediocre and the service to be cold and unfriendly. And it's over-priced. Maybe this place was different years ago, but the the last several years, it must have gone way downhill.

                        If you want good Thai in the area, go across the bridge to Wildflowers in New Hope. Outstanding food and comfortable and friendly service. http://www.wildflowersnewhope.com/

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: frackit

                          I've been to Wildflowers and I think the food is pretty awful. The service is friendly, but the menu is huge - I remember getting a sinking feeling when I got my menu there because they were offering food from so many different cuisines, and that usually translates to doing nothing very well. And that was exactly my experience.

                        2. Thai Tida on North Union Street is worth a try. About 10 blocks from the center of town, it seems very popular with locals and not yet "discovered" by the tourist trade.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: NIMBLE

                            Not sure if its true, but I hear from a friend who waited tables there, that they "DON'T EVEN HAVE A STOVE" and that EVERYTHING comes out of the freezer and into the MICROWAVE...... scary sounding, but somehow believable.

                            Had dishes off the "Thai" menu one day, were so-so, nothing to write home about.

                            Had "American" fare one nite... meatloaf, of all things - something I normally despise. It was, to say the least.... intriguing. I was not sure whether or not it was so awful and foul tasting that I should simply not eat it, or whether it was somehow, pervertedly, good...... but like I said, intriguing none the less. In retrospect, I think I must have been slightly addled and it was just awful.

                            Shame, because they have a very lovely pretty garden outdoor patio.

                            1. re: Sethboy

                              Sethboy - are you talking about Thai Tida or Wildflowers? It's not clear from your post (but I believe you were referring to Wildflowers?)

                              1. re: Sethboy

                                I expect you are talking about "Wildflowers."

                                1. re: NIMBLE

                                  Sorry about that.. .yes I was referring to Wildflowers, not Thai Tida which I have yet to try.

                                  And I did not mean to come across so harsh sounding about Wildflowers, just not my cup of tea, shall we say.....

                            2. I've eaten at Siam about 70 times over past few years (most recently 3/3) and it's food is very good as before and service is about the same (good). They still never advertise (at least in the publications I read and I live locally) and, in response to the tourist rube note, I really don't see that many out-of-towners at this restaurant compared to most of the other spots in town. Try it again when you're in the area again. Also have been to both the Siam Thai Buckingham and Newtown strip mall locations noted in some replies here and they pale in comparison.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: giant99

                                Then all I can say is they must be serving different food to "regulars" and those of us who only go occasionally (we live in the area - not "tourist rubes") because our last two experiences there were really terrible. Absolutely cold, downright disdainful service and truly ridiculously skimpy portions of ill-prepared food.

                              2. I've been to Siam in Lambertville many times, and this (Sethboy) review is so out of character - not at all of what I have experienced at this restaurant. The food is very good, and much more authentic then the Thai restaurant in Buckingham, or many others. It is plain, simple Thai food - very similar to what you would find in Bangkok, along the market streets. Sometimes it is overwhelmingly busy, so the wait staff seems a bit harried, but all and all - very nice and helpful. I can attest to this by bringing a vegetarian to the restaurant (they don't have much vegetarian offerings) and the waitress kindly suggested several things that are not on the menu that my friend might like. A mixed vegetable and tofu curry was made much to the delight of my picky friend.
                                I think I've tried just about everything on the menu and never have been disappointed. Oh, and they DO use jasmine rice. As for Thai Tida, along the same lines a Siam Cuisine in Buckingham - good in a pinch, but for those who really know about Thai food - Siam in Lambertville is the place to go.

                                1. What's the difference between white rice and jasmine rice? I've been eating jasmine rice since I was born, and I never really knew there was a difference. And Siam does serve jasmine rice, if you don't believe them you could ask to see the bag that the rice comes in :)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ployathina

                                    Jasmine rice has a subtle floral aroma in both it's raw and cooked states that is not present in regular white rice.

                                    According to Wikipedia, the fragrance comes from 2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline, which is also responsible for the aroma in Basmati Rice and Pandan Leaves.

                                  2. I've been to Siam several times and I will say this, the waitstaff/hostess are always fresher than the food lol!

                                    I ordered a seafood app once, can't remember the name but it was some kind of sauteed squid, octopus, shrimp, and it stunk up the place so bad I had to call Ms. Sunshine over (the hostess) and ask her to wrap it in a sealed plastic bag and throw it out the back door lol!

                                    And what's up with not serving any noodle dishes for dinner? Its not like they don't have noodles, they serve them on the lunch menu. I don't get that.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: lien0569

                                      I checked in on Siam last night, wondering what all the fuss was about. The wait staff was pleasant, service was prompt (despite usual Sat night crowd), and, true to form, my stand-by favorites were delicious-- coconut chicken soup, stir-fried watercress and thai chicken curry. I agree with "boqbhoy"-- this is the best Thai restaurant around.

                                      -----
                                      Siam Thai Restaurant
                                      61 N Main St, Lambertville, NJ 08530

                                    2. I have to disagree with the parts about the food taste in this review. I have also had trouble with the aloof hostess and issues with reservations but the reason we keep going back is because it is the best Thai restaurant in the area. Every time I have been here, the food is delicious. The tom kha gai soup is so good, I wish I could bathe in it. The snow peas special is superb with perfectly blanched snow peas in a light and not-too-sweet sauce. I would highly suggest the sweet shrimp paste dinner. In addition, even if you don't like the service much, you should still leave a tip, even if only 10%. It's just rude not to. I think this Thai place is much better than the one in Buckingham.