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Jun 29, 2008 09:23 PM

Severe downhill alert: Parima Thai, Burlington VT -- horrible

Apparently this restaurant was once good, but our group visited on a Saturday night and it was nearly empty except for us. That was the first warning sign. Yes, the locals have already caught on, but we travelers, who don't get a chance to come up to Burlington as often as we would like, were unaware: Parima is now barely even a parody of a Thai restaurant, or any kind of half-decent restaurant. It's a shameful embarrassment. We were essentially charged $40 per person for a set meal of tasteless plain vegetables and meat with no flavor, no spices, and no seasoning.

Perhaps the low point of the evening was when they served us vegetables boiled in water with some cardamom and called it curry. The remaining dishes were very similar. They served us freezerburnt chocolate ice cream for dessert. This wasn't Thai food, or even a vague approximation of Thai food. It was a catastrophe. The lack of resemblance to real Thai food wasn't the worst thing. If it had tasted like *anything*, I wouldn't have been so disappointed. Heck, if it had even had as much character or flavor as the food I ate in my elementary school cafeteria, I wouldn't have been so disappointed. At the end of the meal, a couple of us took issue with the manager, who was extremely rude to us and wouldn't give his name.

This was a very large group of people (30) and I realize that cooking for so many people is difficult, but we made our reservation a week or two in advance, so they should've been prepared for us. They could've at least served us some half-decent pre-made frozen stuff out of a grocery store, if they had even been trying just a little.

I wish I'd checked the user reviews at the local alternative newsweekly before going there -- some of the recent user reviews say things like "it tasted as if my food had been steamed in water and served as is... there was no seasoning, no spice, no color, no sauce, no flavor" (that sounds awfully familiar). There are also a few positive reviews, so I wonder if the manager (or a friend) is submitting those, or if the chef/owner (apparently named Jib, and supposedly actually from Thailand) is simply extremely, wildly, insanely inconsistent. Or possibly a drunkard.

I've eaten at a lot of good restaurants in Burlington, but this wasn't one of them. It's a sad, dismal blight on Burlington's culinary landscape. (The next day, I was talking to a local couple on the way to the Chew-Chew Festival, who said they also thought Parima was terrible and told me that the owner is extremely nasty; another person at the Chew-Chew said her friend, a bouncer, had never been paid for his work at Parima.) The building is nice -- too bad it wasn't being used for something decent. I get the impression they're coasting on their past reputation and getting most of their profit from the bar, where a fair number of people were drinking (but not eating).

What an atrocity. Stay far away!

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  1. It is a shame as that is a nice space especially for larger groups. They may survive one more summer/foliage but if they continue taking customer's money for granted, the frigid winter air may be the end for Parima.

    1. I forgot to mention that our group was so upset with the food that we actually passed around a Trader Joe's chocolate bar, sharing it between courses, and it was the best thing we ate all night.

      Has this abomination gone out of business yet?

      1. Hi, what happenned to you seems very unfortunate but I would like to give my opinion. I was there last sunday. I came down from Montreal, and I was performing at the acoustic lounge. All I can say is that I really appreciated the service and friendliness of the staff. That's always very important for me. The food was good (I had a salmon teriyaki), don't know if it was authentic or not, but it was good. The owners were also very friendly. I just felt compelled to give a positive review, and I am not affiliated with the place in any way whatsoever.

        1 Reply
        1. re: misterdmmc

          Just out of curiosity, did they pay you reasonably well for performing there?

          When we were there, some good musicians eventually took the stage. We noticed that the staff seemed to be treating the musicians reasonably well. As I said, the atmosphere is nice. It could be a decent place to drink and see some live music, but the food is vile. I've noticed that more negative reviews of the restaurant have appeared at 7 Days (the Burlington alternative weekly paper) online recently, so I guess that means the place is still in business, which is sad.

          You said you "don't know if it was authentic or not" -- well, apparently not -- teriyaki isn't Thai! Not that there's inherently anything wrong with branching out to non-Thai dishes, but in practice, I've never seen this work well. Maybe I just haven't found the right pan-Asian restaurant yet. I'm sure there must be a good one out there somewhere.

        2. Undercooked chicken and bad service took them off of my list years ago.