The Eats: Bang Bar, 4750 California Ave. SW, 935-8888. Thai restaurant and lounge.
It's dinner and a show at Bang Bar.
The Deets: According to its website, West Seattle's Bang Bar derives the "Bang" part of its name from the Thai word for "town, city, district, or province." Conveniently located on the California strip just a few blocks from the Alaska junction, Bang Bar does have a few qualities that appeal to city locals: great location, good food, and tastefully modern Asian decor. But free of charge, this outwardly charming Thai bistro also offers the erratic booming of young ballet dancers practicing directly upstairs, courtesy of Kathy's Studio of Dance.
During a recent meal in the bistro, the pitter-pattering thuds were so inundating it was hard to identify if it was the stereo bass from passing cars (Toby's guess), a vigilante ring tone, or a troupe of tumbling clowns determined to demolish the building. When I asked our busser about the noise she responded cheerfully, "Oh, the dancers upstairs. They'll get tired soon!"
Reality is, outside my immediate family, my tolerance for little people imposing on my dining experience--one I foot the bill for--is limited. I don't blame the kids or the proprietors of either neighboring joint--maybe, before moving in (remember Ama Ama Oyster House and Tom Yum Koong were former tenants of the same space), Bang Bar's owners didn't fully understand the extent of activity upstairs and how it would translate during meal time below. But with their mood lighting and a soundtrack of cool jazz spilling out onto the sidewalk, Bang Bar plays it off well and I wanted a piece of that Zen. I left instead with a full tummy and rattled nerves.
The Beets: Upside, no qualms about the food. My vegetarian Pad See Ewe was outstanding: its wide rice noodles were perfectly tender and blackened with a decadent soy sauce, and the veggies were wok-fried to a textbook crisp. Toby and I shared the fried eggplant with black flake salt and honey and it was pleasing, too--the Panko style breading and drizzled honey gave the dish the effect of "chicken fingers," and the eggplant stood up firmly to match the comparison. Toby's Bang Bar Noodle entree, wide noodles with veggies in a dry curry, was nice too, though a little too hot for me--he ordered it extra spicy.
Sadly, the drinks were disappointing, and cocktails and wine pours were skimpy. My cucumber mint martini and glass of house white were each history in a few gulps. Sure, maybe it the overhead assault that had me fumbling more frequently for my glass, but hey, BB: If we have to endure the thumps upstairs, can you at least dull our senses with a bit more booze?
The Tweet: Vegetarians have nice options at Bang Bar, but, in the bistro anyhow, they come at too dear a price!