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The River Market - What Happened?

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Chiang Mai
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai
posts: 1,737
reviews: 21
The River Market - What Happened?

As many of you know, I live here in Chiang Mai and am a "foodie" who loves to share my restaurant "finds" with all of you who plan holidays to my hometown. I reviewed and gave very high marks to The River Market here on T/A when they first opened almost a year ago and have also listed it in my five favorite restaurant FAQ for other "foodies"...Yesterday, I even posted directions to this venue here on the Forum since I have always highly recommended it. Last night I went to dinner at The River Market with friends whom I hadn't seen in years and years for their "last night in Chiang Mai Dinner".

To be perfectly honest with you, I have NO idea what has happened to the efficient, helpful service from wait staff, or the well thought out attention to detail - but it was one of the most embarassing, dismal, lack of thought and service meals I have eaten anywhere in a VERY long time. Some of our sushi even looked and tasted as if it had been made for lunch and then left around to serve at dinner! If it had been my first visit to The River Market I most assuredly would not go back ever again.

Our evening began with a lengthy wait next to the "Please wait for hostess to seat you" sign. When it became evident that there was no hostess on duty, we found our way to a table with a lovely view of the river....and waited, and waited, and waited.

I do realize that restaurant owners here in the Kingdom have a very hard time keeping their staff. Thai National workers have a irritating way of simply "going walk about" right after you get them trained...sometimes they leave for a lunch break and never return. However, last night there were at least 10 wait staff all of whom seemed to find something very interesting and funny to discuss among themselves at the bar and no amount of polite waving in their direction could get their attention. The only way we were finally waited on was we sent our fluent Thai speaker in the group over to the crowd and they were told we would like to order drinks and dinner. There ensued something that resembled a Chinese fire drill with none of the staff seeming to know where they were to go or what each was to do..lots of Indians but no Chief in charge or even in sight. We were overwhelmed by various staff pouring many, many glasses of cold water for us - but other than that their attitude was "Now what do we do?"

Our starters and meals were brought out in no particular order - and our Thai speaker finally had to ask if we could PLEASE get dinner plates so that we could share the various things we had all chosen. A wait staff person appeared next to our table with a stack of dishes about five minutes later and handed us two - we decided that clean plates must be at a premium in the kitchen, since there were four of us and our Thai speaker had to hurry after staff and ask for two more plates. Even when the starters began to arrive - they were wrong - and the looks and sighing from the staff - well - guess we were just suposed to say, "Mai pen rai"....laugh and let it go.

Again, I must say I have NO idea what has happened since my last visit there about three months ago. I know that every restaurant has an "off night" now and again - but other than the fact that the restrooms were clean that is about it for my praise for this venue right now. Perhaps someone in the know can enlighten me - but for right now, sorry River Market, I can no longer give you five stars and that makes me very sad indeed. Marie (nannyre)

Edited: 1:57 am, February 24, 2013
Destination Expert
for Livigno, Lombardy
posts: 39,355
reviews: 139
1. Re: The River Market - What Happened?

Sounds like the dinner from Hell, I had added this restaurant to my list after your recommendation but will now wait for any updates.

posts: 324
reviews: 10
2. Re: The River Market - What Happened?

Thanks for the timely update, Marie! Will give it a miss, now. There are so many other wonderful places to eat here...

Chiang Mai
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai
posts: 1,737
reviews: 21
3. Re: The River Market - What Happened?

I must say, I was stunned when I was there for dinner on Saturday night. It was hard for me to write the update since I had been "over the moon" with this venue, but felt that it was the right thing to do. As I said in my post yesterday, I do realize that businesses (especially restaurants) have problems with staff and also that any restaurant can have an "off night". I am going to give The River Market another try in the near future and will update again after that visit. Marie (nannyre)

Sydney, Australia
posts: 115
4. Re: The River Market - What Happened?

I was there in June and had a wonderful night with great food and service. Will be in CM in April and was looking forward to another "special" night.

We were served at the time by a young girl who was the daughter of the owner and although she wasn't the greatest when it came to explaining some dishes, she was enthusiastic and liked a chat.

Maybe the owners have gone away for a holiday. They were European I believe.

No excuse though.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 68
reviews: 1
5. Re: The River Market - What Happened?

We had dinner there in our last visit . Food was good . Service is a joke . They serve the first course , the entrée and dessert all together within 2 minutes .

We found the owner and try having a conversation with him . He couldn't care less . 

What a shame . 

Bilha .   

posts: 3,201
reviews: 21
6. Re: The River Market - What Happened?

Wow! I am very surprised about your experience, nannyre, as mine was so good! I ate with HJ and Al on Feb. 5th for my birthday, and the service and food delivery was prompt and efficient and the food was great!

The owner came around to see how we were enjoying our meal and sat and chatted for awhile. Think his name was David. Nannyre, maybe you should give him a call and sort this out. It seems a shame to let the bad reviews go on if it can be rectified quickly.... I personally loved the atmosphere and ambience there for dinner; there were people lighting lanterns and releasing them up into the sky and that was lovely as well. I don't have a bad word to say about my experience there.

I would talk to the owner as I know he definitely wants his restaurant to be the best it can be... I'm sorry you had such a poor experience.

W Yorks
posts: 203
reviews: 12
7. Re: The River Market - What Happened?

What a shame, I had a great meal there in November - I hope this is just a blip.

Chiang Mai
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai
posts: 1,737
reviews: 21
8. Re: The River Market - What Happened?

Once again, yes it is a shame and I had been hopeful that I would see David or another member of his family while we were there on Saturday. He's a really great guy and I have known him for what seems like forever. I know he is very proud of his restaurants, is a good businessman and when he has been "in house" and I have eaten there it's always been like he has "eyes in the back of his head" when it comes to having staff "do it right - and do it right the first time!"

As I said in a previous post on this thread - I will give it another try in the near future and for now will try to contact David. I'm sure he would want to know about this and will try to fix it as soon as he can. That's the kind of guy he is! Marie (nannyre)

Chiang Mai, Thailand
posts: 23
reviews: 19
9. Re: The River Market - What Happened?

I also live in Chiang mai and dined there this week.I was hesitant to go as although the setting is nice the last tme i went which was about a month ago the food was good but not great.Any way this week i went with my two children under 12 and arrived about 5.30.My daughter ordered Mai Thai with no alcohol which was fine...she had a second and then my son orderd himself the same and as he is farang but speaks thai the waiter understood he wanted the same as his older sister.His drink came out with alcohol which we realized after a short time...My son's Pizza off Duke's menu was not good...the base very chewy..My daughters usual was good as always off Dukes' menu

I ordered a lamb masaman curry..I should have realized it was going to be different when they asked me how I would like my lamb cooked.So my curry ended up being diced potatoes and carrots firm with lamb medium on top in a penang curry sauce(not a peanut to be seen)and mint on top.Tasty but not what I expected.Now to top it off when we paid our bill we were told no happy hour and were charged full alcohol prices for the 10 and 12 yr old mocktails. Only after I commented did they take a little off the drinks maybe 100 baht or something similar..I know the owner will not be happy to read this but it needs to be said..Great property,location but food and service not up to scratch.One English speaker on the evening we were there. Fortunatley much was said in Thai by my son. Perhaps go there with lower expectations.Dukes in the night Bazaar is great and we will revert back to that location.

Maleny, Australia
posts: 492
reviews: 85
10. Re: The River Market - What Happened?

This is all very strange. Friends and I ate there 2 weeks ago and were very happy with the experience. We also ate at the Whole Earth Veg Restaurant, not all vegetarian though, and it was a great outdoor experience, good food and service.