Those fortunate enough to dine at Amazing Thailand this past Saturday were able to observe a fleeting yet elegant spectacle: The restaurant's general manager performing traditional Thai dance, while appropriately costumed and holding two flowers containing lit candles. Her sudden, smiling appearance at my table was one of the most pleasantly striking moments* I've enjoyed in a lifetime of dining out.
Amazing Thailand (which I reviewed shortly after it opened) has become one of my favorite restaurants. This is not merely because of the food (which ranges from decent to excellent) or the decor (which includes an actual tuk tuk parked in the foyer), but because of its spirit. You can tell that this is a place that is fighting to do well, and winning over an increasingly large and loyal following in the process.
The idea of having someone perform Thai dance to traditional music in the middle of the dinner hour is not everyone's cup of tea, and it has to be somewhat nerve-wracking to perform while onlookers wolf down spring rolls and pad siew. Speaking personally, however: Sometimes taking this kind of a risk can give patrons an intangible but precious gift: a memorable moment of grace.
*(Least pleasantly striking moment: dining at Casa de Lara in Madison and watching a waitress drop an enormous platter of glassware onto the tile floor, and then have to pick up the pieces, sobbing quietly, while the entire restaurant gawked. I still sometimes wish I could travel back in time and help her pick up the shards, but then I think: Wouldn't that have just made it even more awkward? Then again: Is it possible for anything to have been more awkward? The whole moment was so riveting and terrible that it was like a ten minute one-act play about the nature of humiliation.)