Saturday, July 02, 2011

Restaurant Reviews: Flat Top Grill & Adis Abeba & A Dutch Barbeque

My complete absence from this social media world of ours can be attributed to the comeback of things like professors, classrooms, home assignments, all nighters and the like, and for that I apologize. Also, a piece of unsolicited advice, if you ever plan to return to books after half a dozen years, be prepared for a rough start! And with a heartfelt tribute to Jimmy Amarnath & Dada, I start this post.

Postor Shobji
Despite what's described in the previous paragraph I continue to be a believer of "Good food will keep us alive" and the past 10 days or so have been quite enriching in the culinary quotient. Our move to Chi-town started with my school friend Boudhayan picking us up from O'Hare and not just giving us shelter on day 0 at his place, but also whipping up a most memorable lunch of Bhaat (steamed rice), Doi Maachh (Catfish prepared in a yoghurt gravy) and postor sabzi (A very typical Bengali poppy seed dish).

Doi Maachh

Flat Top Grill
The 1st of the 2 places I wanted to talk about is the very unique concept restaurant - Flat Top Grill. Located right next to our university accommodation in Evanston, this cosy little eatery works on the "pick and choose your own food" idea. Quite simple really - pick up a plate and fill it up with rice/noodles of your choice, then proceed to the extensive vegetables section (most of it is boiled/half cooked), followed by the meats (chicken/beef/pork/calamari/octopus - you name it, they have it) and finally the array of sauces. And you're just one step away from your final dish. Give your collection of items to the chefs at the large open kitchen at the front of the restaurant and they will stir fry your food and it is sent to your table. I got some mushroom-asparagus-pork-octopus-rice combination in a hot & sour soup, while Veni went for her chicken-noodles variety. And all this very reasonably priced at $9/person and you can go for unlimited helpings for only $1 extra/person. The whole concept, decor, food and service was top class and highly recommended if you're in one of the places where they are located. If any budding food entrepreneurs in India is reading this then you have a business plan on your hands.

Select Rice/Noodles & Vegetables

Select your sauces & meat

Leave your bowls with at the table, to be stir fried

And see your hand picked ingredients getting freshly cooked in front of you
That's it! Enjoy your meal!

Adis Abeba
The other place was an a little Ethopian restaurant, again not too far from from McManus Apartments. I had heard a lot about Ethipian restaurants from Veni as she had visited one last year in California, and the 'No Cutlery' policy at such places obviously was an added attraction for someone like me who has used his hands for a majority of his meals. Also, was very curious to see the reactions of the cutlery bred westerners at using their hands for eating their food, and must say their enthusiasm and adeptness at the new practice left me impressed. The restaurant is somewhat unimaginatively named Adis Abeba (which is the Ethiopian capital for the uninitiated). Besides the no cutlery rule, they other intriguing custom at the place is that at every table there's only one really large plate of food that's brought and everyone eats from the same plate. Much like the communal dining tradition of the Kashmiri Wazwan. There's a large wheat & millet based fluffy bread on which a variety of meat & vegetables is served along with some Ethiopian salads. Along with this additional breads are provided in a side dish. We ordered one combination of a spicy lentil based thick paste, some minced well done steak and chicken drumstick in a spicy sauce. The bread and the accompaniments were lapped up in no time, leaving no space for the traditional Ethiopian coffee which was being eyed at since we entered the place. Again, at $20 for a meal for 2 this is a great option for good North African meals in the area.

The bread is a hybrid between rotis & appams

And that's the communal plate with the meat & vegetables
Hungry! About to dive in

And on Friday we had a Dutch Barbeque Thank-God-It's-Friday party at a fellow student's place where almost the whole of Kellogg descended. With plenty of freshly grilled meat for the burgers and hot dogs, it was an evening which is definitely going to be repeated quite frequently in the coming weeks.

The dutch party in full flow, with the flag et al
Meat being grilled by Francis from France who doesn't think much of American food
Party's complete with plastic tulips!
And that's the meat of it!