Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pappadams and Onion Rings

Last night esposo and I tried out the new Brad's Grill in Lindora (Santa Ana). We were going to go to Kalu, but they've packed up and moved back to Barrio Amon in the city (total bummer -- I loved their food!). That left a Peruvian seafood place (not exactly our style), a sushi place (great for veg lunch bento box, but this was dinner time), and a very expensive Italian restaurant (we just weren't that hungry). So we walked around, bitching about the fact that Kalu was closed, and noticed a hockey game playing on the HD tvs in Brad's. What can I say, I love hockey!

Esposo had an electric lemonade, which he thought was a martini but was served in a highball glass and quite blue and girly, actually. I liked it, but neither one of us could taste any booze (though, from the bright blue color, there was obviously some Blue Curacao in there somewhere). I just had a mint tea because I was still getting over being horribly sick with a head cold. I saw onion rings on the menu (lots of bar food, but if you eat meat [and we don't], you'll find plenty of other things there, very American-style with burgers and such). Hockey and onion rings? Holy hand grenade, Batman! We also ordered a spinach-artichoke dip (esposo loves that stuff), and he had a veggie sandwich on whole-grain bread. I think the most successful of the three dishes was the grilled veggie sandwich -- really nice bread, and basically I don't think you can go wrong with grilled veg, unless you burn them. The artichoke dip was a little on the thin side (not like the goop they serve at Friday's), and the onion rings were really good, though on the greasy side. I prefer my onion rings thickly sliced, and these were really thin.

Actually, the best onion rings I ever had was at a place called the Red Barn, back in Warren, Ohio (where I grew up). The Red Barn is long since closed (actually I think it's a mini-mart now), but they used to have these big, thick onion rings with a crunchy batter that was more like what you'd get on fried chicken than like a beer batter. Those were sooooo good! Oh so good. Actually my first job ever was cashiering at the Red Barn. Amish people would come from miles away for our fried chicken. My supervisor was a stoner, and the whole crew could do some serious partying. Some girlfriends from high school worked in their family's soul food restaurant, and they would come by with greens, sweet potato pie, and ribs (ok, this was back when I wasn't a vegetarian, obviously!), and trade me for fried chicken and onion rings. Those were the days!

But, as usual, I digress... Dinner at Brad's came to 14,000 (about $28), and I hate to say it, but I could taste the grease for a few hours afterward. I guess that's what I get for having those onion rings!

Today, esposo and son and I had lunch at Tandoori Palace, also in Lindora (in the shopping center where sCitibank and Taco Hell are located). We had been there once before with Chris and her daughter, and we all came away completely stuffed. They've raised their buffet prices since then (now 9,000/about $18 per person), and the a la carte items on the menu were expensive enough that we figured we might as well go for the buffet. Other than two meat-based items, the rest of the food was vegetarian. And, there were two Indian guys having lunch there, so I figured it must be good. :-) Our son insisted on having only a bowl of lentil soup, though we tried to talk him into pakoras or samosas. How many four-year-olds actually like lentil soup? He loved it. I can't tell you everything that was on the buffet, because I just don't remember the names of everything. But there was a chickpea dish that I always love, two different kinds of lentil dishes (one of them was moong daal), some spicy potatoes, rice, samosas (or was it pakoras? I never know.), and something else I can't recall. All of it was freaking delicious. I told esposo at the beginning of our meal that I didn't think I could eat $18 worth of food, but honestly, it was so good, it was totally worth it. They also bring you fresh naan and desert is included in the price, but I was far too stuffed to eat it. I truly thought I was going to explode. The woman who runs the place was so sweet, asking after our son and if he wanted anything off the kid's menu (he didn't; he was happy with lentil soup), and making sure he was eating something. I believe lunch came to 24,000 (around $48), and we both felt like it was really quite worth it.

It's nice that Costa Rica finally has some international options for dining out. Back when I first came here (10 or so years ago), there was nothing really. Some Italian food was as international as it got. You can imagine slim pickins for veggies like ourselves! But now there isn't much we don't have -- off the top of my head, I know of Korean, Lebanese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Peruvian, French, Italian, and a new Moroccan restaurant that we have yet to try (but have been dying to). So things are improving. At least in the Central Valley. I don't know how it is in the rest of the country, though I would think Guanacaste probably has some good stuff going on these days. What's happening culinarlily in your part of the country?

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