Eat It, Damn It!

Reviews, raves, slams, and damns.

Monthly Archives: July 2010

Curry Spot

Some places are just made for eating with other people. Curry Spot is one of those joints. It has a really great décor, soft colors, good lighting, and a relaxed vibe. While the environment is great, that is not necessarily what makes the communal eating aspect perfect. It is much easier to share dishes when they are brought out in serving bowls as opposed to individual plates. It allows everyone to try out more than one dish without fear of reaching over into someone’s plate.

I’ve been going to Curry Spot for years, so I have a hard time giving them anything other than a glowing review, but for these purposes, I will attempt to be as impartial as possible. On this particular trip I had two dining companions. One is as enamored as I with the restaurant, the other has only had Indian food a few times in his life.

The other great part about multiple dining companions is it allows us to order a multitude of dishes without feeling like gluttons or wastrels.

Drink Trio

First, drinks. From left to right Sweet Lassi, Mango Lassi, and Dooq. Each of these are yogurt based drink, so they have a creamy quality that is not unlike a milkshake, but it is not thick or filling. A few ice cubes are tossed into each drink to keep it cool. The Sweet Lassi has the gentle flavor of plain sweetened yogurt. The Mango, of course, adds a mango flavor. (Duh.) The Dooq is a little more complete. Take the regular Lassi, add mint and some carbonation (probably from seltzer). Though not as creamy as the others, it is still smooth.

If you go out for Indian food, you’ve got to have bread. How else are you going to mop up the delicious sauces left on your plate or in the serving bowl? No. Licking the bowl is considered bad form.

Poori

Poori ($2.95) is like a bread pillow. Soft and light, it is filled with hot air as it comes to your table. I always like to have the uninitiated stab the bread to watch the steam billow out. This Poori is not as yeasty as some others I’ve had, and it tends to be a little on the oily side. Nevertheless, its texture is right on the border of bread without crossing over into cracker.

Garlic Naan

The Garlic Naan ($2.95) is standard fare. Just about every Indian restaurant and food cart will have naan. Stop N’ Shop even sells it now. This is just naan with fresh garlic and cilantro toss on top. For those who have never had naan, imagine a thin crust pizza that is just crust (no sauce, cheese, etc…). It’s not focaccia bread, but that might be its Italian cousin.

Basmati Rice

A cauldron of rice comes with the main course and will generously be refilled upon request. I believe this is white basmati rice. It’s rice. It wasn’t bad. (There isn’t really much I can say about rice.) It didn’t suck.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala ($9.95) is probably the most popular Indian dish in all of North America. It is the hamburger of the Indian restaurant. Every place must have it, whether they like it or not. Curry Spot does a wonderful job. The sauce is rich and plentiful. The chicken is perfectly cooked, tender and juicy, served in chunks, not shreds. Some purveyors may dislike that this dish has no skin or bones, but that is no problem for me. For those seeking heat, this is not the dish. It is by no means bland, but this will not bring tears to even the most timid of eyes. If you want heat, I would suggest…

Lamb Vindaloo

…the Lamb Vindaloo ($11.95). They will ask if you want it spicy. Say “YES!” This is a good sinus-clearing dish. It is not just a dish of heat for heat’s sake. The burn does not overwhelm the flavor of savory lamb (not gamey at all). The filler is kept to a minimum, so while there are some potatoes in the dish, it does not outweigh the meat.

Navrattan Korma

Navrattan Korma ($8.95) is a vegetable dish. Imagine a nutty, creamy, curry sauce, with mixed vegetables tossed inside. Though not particularly hot, the flavor is bold.

Baigan Bhartha

The one dish that did not knock my socks off was the Baigan Bhartha ($7.95). I will confess that I am not a big fan of eggplant, but this just tasted like mashed eggplant with tomatoes. There was no complexity, or at least none that I could discern. It did not go over huge with my dining companions either.

It is funny that an Indian restaurant is situated in the midst of Irish bars, but thankfully they do get a steady stream of customers. They also do a brisk lunch business. Travelers without cars should not worry as they are close to public transportation.

Curry Spot
4268 Katonah Avenue
Bronx, NY 10470
718-708-5900
(Google Map)

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Crumbs

Cupcakes have become all the rage. More appropriately, they’ve been all the rage for quite a while, it’s only now that I’m writing a review.

Crumbs is a pretty popular chain with locations on the east and west coast. I originally tried out a location in Manhattan after leaving the Museum of Modern Art. This particular review is of the Westport location. As far as I remember, quality control is pretty even across locations (as is not always the case with chains).

I was having dinner with my girlfriend and her parents and thought I would bring an assortment for dessert. My girlfriend’s father has Celiac Disease, so he cannot eat anything with gluten. Long and short, he should not eat anything with white flour (and some other stuff). I thought a large chain like Crumbs would have a few gluten-free products, but surprisingly, they had nothing. Oh well, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

I got an assortment of four cupcakes. Crumbs gives names to all their cakes, sometimes in homage of people that love the flavors. From top left: Samoa, Elvis, Baba Booey, and Caramel Crunch.

Crumbs Collection

I’ve had the Baba Booey a few times before and it was just as I remembered, sheer and utter decadence. It is a chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, peanut butter frosting, peanut butter filling, and peanut butter chips. As you can guess, I’m a fan of peanut butter. It is sweet, mind-bendingly, pucker your face sweet. There is very little subtlety with this treat. I would recommend it for people that love eclairs, cheesecake, and pasty cream.

Baba Booey

The Elvis was surprisingly light. It was a white cake with banana frosting and peanut butter chips. There was no bacon.

Elvis

The Caramel Crunch and Samoa were also good, but don’t ask for a description. I was so overwhelmed by the others that I couldn’t give a good summary of the flavors. I could not imagine eating one of these cupcakes by myself. They are incredibly sweet and rich. I recommend sharing with at least one other person.

Crumbs
40-44 Post Rd East
Westport, CT 06880
203-226-1000
(Google Map)

Colony Grill

Thin crust pizza. That’s all they serve. There are no wings, there are no heroes. There is only one size pizza ($8.00) measuring in at around a foot. The topping are relatively standard fare at $1.50 each. There is beer and soda available as well. Colony does one thing: Pizza. Thin crust pizza.

Connecticut pizza aficionados rave about New Haven pizzerias as the crème de la crème. However, when people talk about hanging out, having a few brews, and getting something to eat, they mention Colony. Operations have recently been expanded to include a Fairfield location, but this review is of the original in Stamford.

My girlfriend and I ordered a pepperoni and a sausage pie. I asked the waitress about the sausage before ordering and she informed me that it was made by the De Yulio’s Sausage Co. in the neighborhood. I’m always intrigued by fresh, locally made toppings.

The sausage was chunk style. It was tasty, but not especially flavorful. Perhaps it could have used more fennel. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t seem inspired.

Colony Sausage

The pepperoni was large, but cut paper thin, so much so that is almost disappeared into translucency. This gave the pizza an “essence of pepperoni” flavor instead of an actual pepperoni topping taste.

Colony Pepperoni

This pizza is definitely cracker thin. As you can see from the photos, there is no really edge crust (a plus for people that generally discard the crust). What was very odd was that the crust really reminded me of a cracker. It did not have the airy quality and yield that many thin-crust pizzas have, but almost tasted and felt like it was made from crackers. I would not be surprised if I was told that saltines were ground up to make the crust. Don’t get me wrong, this was not necessarily bad, but it was definitely different.

The sauce is nothing spectacular, but good. It is not watery or bland, but has a pleasant tomato flavor. The cheese is nothing to write home about.

An important note: This pizza is greasy. It is an exceptionally oily pizza. I considered ordering the hot oil pie (pizza topped with hot chili oil), a local favorite. After seeing the other pies making their way to other diner, I could not possibly add more oil to this meal. The cholesterol wary should definitely avoid Colony.

In terms of décor, Colony is simply a pizzeria on steroids. Seating is bench style. The lighting is low. There are napkin dispensers and a standing menu at each station. Its a good place to chill, have a drink or two and something to eat. It is not a place for an evening out with your finance’s parents that you are attempting to impress. I went at around 9:30pm on a Sunday, and the place was full, but there was no waiting. It may be a place that gets filled up on a weekend. While I think this is a very good pizza for a night out, I would not wait a half-hour for this particular experience.

Colony Grill
172 Myrtle Avenue
Stamford, CT‎ 06902
203-359-2184‎
(Google Map)

Piper’s Kilt

Piper's Storefront
I used to work near the Piper’s Kilt in Eastchester. It was a very popular destination for my coworkers and other people in the area, so much so that it was packed nearly every day around lunch. Everyone would rave, “It’s simply the best burger.” I had it a number of times and while I found it good, I was not sent into the near orgasmic bliss that my dining companions enjoyed. The Kilt, as it was affectionately called, is part of small chain. The other day, I decided to try the original.

I rarely make it over to the western side of the Bronx. Parking can be a little dicey, but thankfully, on this midday afternoon, I had very little trouble finding a spot. Travelers beware: bring quarters. This neighborhood has not migrated over to credit card meters. If taking the train, the restaurant is only a block from the 1.

The Kilt looks like what one would expect from an old Irish bar. There is, of course, a bar. The seats are wooden benches, hemorrhoid suffers take note. There is a single television dedicated to horse racing in one corner. On to the food.

I got the bacon cheeseburger ($8.95) and my girlfriend got the Eastchester Burger ($9.50). Both plates feature a bacon cheeseburger, but the Eastchester comes with a side a chili and a few onion rings. Every burger comes with french fries or potato salad.

Bacon Cheeseburger
Eastchester Burger

The potato salad is complete forgettable, bland, and worthless. Don’t bother. The chili is as bland as the potato salad. No amount of salt or pepper could help either lackluster side. The fries were pretty good, but purists may not be pleased as I believe they were dredged in flour before frying. Nevertheless, they were well cooked and had a nice flavor. The onion rings are thick cut and well cooked.

The burgers were nice. They have a pleasing flavor and the meat tastes fresh. There is no exterior char, but it was cooked properly nonetheless. I asked for a medium, my girlfriend for medium-well. We got a medium and a medium-well, just not on the right plates. An easy enough fix. The bacon tastes like standard supermarket Oscar Meyer. The cheese is probably yellow American. If it was cheddar, it was not particularly sharp. The bun is plain, white, and seeded. Fine, but not spectacular.

A word on the service, as many people have commented that the staff was either rude or unhelpful: my experience was fine. My waitress was not particularly friendly or helpful, but she was not rude or aloof either.

Don’t go out of your way for this burger. It’s good, but it is not sole destination good. I would recommend it for people driving to Yankee Stadium from points north, as it is just off I-87 (Deegan Expressway).

Piper’s Kilt
170 West 231st Street
Bronx, NY 10463
718-548-9539‎
(Google Map)

Arnold’s Restaurant

Arnold's Front Sign

The words “World’s Greatest” is often a lofty distinction that comes up short. Nevertheless, it usually gets me to investigate at the very least. An ad in a local Cape Cod magazine said Food & Wine Magazine had declared Arnold’s the makers of the best fried clams in the world. To quote Friday After Next, “The world, Craig. The world.”

To say the least, this is a lofty claim. Granted it comes from a high source, but I was naturally skeptical. Here I am in Cape Cod, the New England getaway region, a place rife with deep fried seafood… could I possibly have found the best fried clams, my favorite of the deep fried sea creatures? With a half-pint, small order of clam strips ($10.99) sitting in front of me, I was about to find out.

Arnold's Fried Clams

The batter on the strips was perfect. It did not taste of too much flour or cornmeal. There was a near perfect balance between clam and crust. Unlike many other strips, this was not a shell of break covering the essence of clam, this was a proper clam strip, done right. But was it the best in the world? I’m not really sure. It was fresh, the clam wasn’t rubbery, and it is most definitely the least greasy bit of fried food I’ve ever eaten, but was it the best in the world? Maybe. It didn’t taste like anything transcendent, but I really cannot think of a time I’ve had a better fried clam.

The onion rings were equally mind boggling. I wish they were thicker, but they were near perfect, with almost no oily residue. This might be the lightest fried food ever. A large order ($5.29) completely overflows the container. Do not order with only one person.

Arnold's Onion Rings

The 50’s Burger ($4.99) is grilled, rather than fried, so there is no outer char and crunch that many aficionados enjoy. They did not ask how the burger should be cooked, but it came out a nice medium (just a bit of pink inside). It was exceptionally tasty, especially with well-cooked bacon and cheese adding to the flavor. It comes on a nice white bun instead of a potato roll.

Arnold's Burger

The Maine Lobster Bisque (cup $4.99) is creamy and has plenty of lobster meat inside, but it a little on the oily side with little spots flecked throughout the soup.

The Texas Chili (cup $3.99) is completely forgettable. There is no real heat and only a limp tomato taste. Even the bacon cannot help this bland stew.

Arnold's Chili

Arnold’s isn’t really near anything. It’s just a restaurant on the side of a highway. I would not recommend it for dinner, but for lunch, it’s excellent. They have a bar, a covered outdoor seating area, and what appeared to be a laid-back clientele. If you want a lazy afternoon, noshing on New England staples and sipping drinks, I would definitely recommend Arnold’s.

Arnold’s Restaurant
3580 State Highway
Route 6
Eastham, MA 02642
508-255-2575
(Google Map)