The Victory goes to Thai

"If you build it, they will come" doesn't always work out, a harsh truth Kevin Costner learned after building Waterworld. Now Victory Park's giving it another go, and they're kicking things off with Naga Thai, soft-opening Friday.

From "three Thais and a white guy" (the men behind Nandina, Jasmine, and NYC/Chicago's Spice Restaurant Group, plus a Liberty Noodle co-owner), Naga represents Victory's first attempt to rectify its initially too-tony business plan: a smartly casual, affordable bistro sporting a sunken dining room, glassed-in wine closet, copious warm woods, and ceiling LEDs that glow orange at night, bringing you to Crimson Tears. Mostly sub-$12, the tweaked Thai menu starts with apps like tomato-salsa ginger calamari and chicken wings w/ spicy honey sauce, soups like chicken or shrimp coconut-milk Tum-Kha, and beef/chicken/shrimp/tofu entrees such as the pineapple/onion/carrot/Vietnamese chili "Sesame Dish", and the basil/bean/mushroom/bell pepper Country Style Spicy Curry (so it's ladled steaming into Alan Jackson's hat?). Pricier "Chef's Selections" include marinated/grilled Volcanic Chicken in sweet chili sauce, and the honey cranberry reduction Braised Duck in Pinot Noir, served with a whole egg -- destroy the question of which came first when you eat them simultaneously.

To keep you smartly casual, the mirror-backed bar will pour four taps, wine, TBD house cocktails, and mojitos from classic to lychee -- though fancy ingredients don't really matter, because if they pour it, you will rum.