Five members of the New York City Thrifty Gourmets Meetup Group and I field-tested Silk Road Palace this past Tuesday. The restaurant was clearly popular that night. Every table was filled at 7:45 PM, and about six diners were waiting in the entrance. The hostess greeted me in a lukewarm, perfunctory manner and noted the number in my party. Within about 15 minutes of our gathering, a waiter wiped down and prepared our tables. Our server was almost robotic. She did not greet us or introduce herself, and simply asked if we were ready to order. Our order was delivered promptly and correctly. The hot and sour soup was flavorful, but bland. The steamed fresh, prepared to order, was light, flaky, tasty and the standout of the evening. Our other dishes, which included beef Szechuan, chicken with peanuts, shrimp with walnuts, green beans with garlic, and baby ribs, were filling but not memorable. Some of the ingredients in some of the dishes did not seem fresh or of the best quality. The free-flowing white wine, served from a white box with a familiar brand name beginning with an F, relaxed my fellow diners and me, brightened our spirits and dulled the sensitivity of our palates. With each glass, we overlooked the unexceptional nature of our dishes and lost ourselves in conviviality. Our dinner cost $17 per person.
Pros: Free-flowing white wine; fresh steamed fish, prepared to order; reasonable prices.
Cons: Perfunctory service; unexceptional dishes