First Look At Yaletown’s Charm

December 19, 2008.

A brand-spanking new 60 seat restaurant and bar called Charm Modern Thai has just opened in Yaletown. It’s in the old Diner/Lucky Diner/Flite location at 1269 Hamilton Street, and it still has that New Restaurant Smell. It’s small and sexy, with several window nooks and banquette hideways. There’s lots of crimson, dark wood, and gold, all creating and reflecting a rather ethereal glow.

When I walked in tonight, the first thing I thought was that it was amazing how they – just like the three restaurants that came before them – had radically altered the layout of the space. I’m sure the kitchen is much the same (the line and the open pass looked to be where they used to be), but the floor, as you can see from the pictures above, is totally unrecognisable.

In the materials that have so far come my way, they refer to Charm as a “resto-bar”, saying that it combines “Thailand’s traditional tastes, aromas and warm hospitality with the pristine spirit of modernism.” Though the stylish redressing of an ethno-specific cuisine sounds plenty like many a recent room (think Piato, Italian Kitchen, Cibo), it’s a line I’d like to see more of. The modern aspect is purely an aesthetic thing, I should hope. I don’t assume we’re going to see much in the way of freakish nastiness on the plate (no guava juice shrimp ceviche tacos, Panang Coho, or ponzu Pad Thai). A restaurant called OThai gave this same wheel a spin and failed on West Broadway in 2007 (they’ve since re-opened), but with the backing of the Thai House empire behind them I think they have a leg up out of the gate (Charm’s proprietor, Desmond Chen, is the front-of-house/operations veteran son of mega-restaurateur Patrick Chen, owner of Thai House, Chilli House, Urban Thai Bistro, and Samba Brazilian Steakhouse).

For certain, they have their work cut out for them. Three restaurants have come and gone in this same location since the last time I blinked, and these aren’t exactly the best of economic times. Still, I’m as eager to give it a shot as you are, and hope to check it out soon (I’m a year-round sucker for Tom Yung Goong).

You can check out the dinner menu here.

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