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Hell Night report

Managed to hit up Hell Night at ECG tonight (the first of three).
I noticed they are planning another short run in December for those that miss it this time around, called "Hellidays".

As usual, Hell Night delivered ... in a big way. We started with the Thai Sticks, Jamaican Connection (oysters with pepper relish and a habanero sausage), the seared scallops, and the infamous Wings of Ass Destruction.
Made the mistake of diving right for the wings when they hit the table which were SEARING ... made all of our mouths numb and meant we could barely taste the rest of the apps. I was sweating profusely, downing the cervezas (which, I realize, does not help -- but what the hell), begging for relief, hoping for more. It was amazing.

WARNING - the habaneros they are using this year seem to be hotter than I have had in a long time. We managed to chat with Chris for a while after the meal and he mentioned that those peppers seemed to be a lot hotter than in past years. (He also told us some choice stories about patrons having various adverse reactions to the food and/or drink).

For the mains we tried the West Indies Pork 3 Ways (though, on my plate, I could only count two ways), and grilled strip steak with 'Atomic Bolivian Rainbow Chile Salsa'. Both were excellent. The steak was manageable as one could scrape the salsa off the top if need be. The pork, on the other hand, was frighteningly spicy, and it would not let up -- even the beans and rice it came with were over the top. Kind of painful when there is nowhere to turn for respite.

For whatever reason this year seems to be a lot spicier than the last two years we have gone - maybe a function of what we ordered. Overall it was a fantastic, endorphin-infused evening - as usual very loud and jovial atmosphere, good times all around. Not a bad way to paralyze some taste buds.

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  1. Thanks Sarge, I'm going tonight and will report in to base. I've noticed that both jalapenos and habs have been wickedly hot this year. I've had a few jalapenos that were hotter than your average habanero. So how bad is the afterburn this A.M.?

    1. Did they have the chocolate chili pepper ice cream this time? I waited too long and couldn't get a reservation this go around. But, last time, that ice cream was terrific! Chocolate ice cream with chilis, pistachios, berries -- it just touched every taste sensation!!

      1. Ooh, are you going to share the choice stories?!

        1. Morning status report: still alive.

          For those that missed it, the hell night menu is here:

          We did not make it to dessert, so, I don't know about the ice cream...

          1. What were the thai sticks like? I'm going tonight and was wondering about the apps. I've had the wings before and remember intense lip pain. My lips were swollen and burning but my mouth was ok. I'd recommend eating them with a knife and fork---but I'm a wuss.

            1 Reply
            1. re: DoubleMan

              I went in last night and had the thai sticks and the Monster pork chop.

              The thai sticks were flavorful but not strong, except for a peppery-oil dipping sauce which was a nice hot start. They also came with a sort of peanutty-fruity(?) dipping sauce that was mild but tasty.

              The "Monster" pork chop was superb; not only a delicious (and Flintstone-massive) chop, but packed with peppers and coated in something like a rub so certain areas of the meat were super-hot and others were just sweet relief.

              In other news the Mai Tai with pineapple/vanilla bean rum is in no way spicy and has a nice smooth soothing flavor that went well with everything.

              I'll be there tonight and tomorrow.

            2. I was also there last night, and had an awesome meal. I've been to the previous two, and thought that their heat ratings were inconsistent and that the apps were always hotter than the entrees. But this time, I think the entrees really delivered.

              We started with the scorching crispy spareribs, which were really tasty, but not too spicy. The cumin grilled shrimp, which were a good heat level, and the wing, which were really...really hot.

              I had the spit-roasted pork chop with Fatali Sausage - Corn Sauce, Chipotle Mashed Potatoes & Blistering Broccoli. The pork chop had this amazing rub with plenty of kick. The Chipotle mashed potatoes and the brocolli were both hotter than I was anticipating. Overall, I highly recommend this dish to anyone who wants the hell night experience... there was nothing on the plate that could cool you down alittle. It was a relentless, spicy dish, fully deserving of the 8 bombs.

              I don't think I'm too qualified to talk about the steak and salmon, other than to say that the people eating them seemed to really enjoy their meals, and I don't think you could go wrong ordering either.

              If you want to see 2 not-so-great pictures of the pork chop, go here: http://cross-sections.blogspot.com/

              1 Reply
              1. re: foodscience

                The sides didn't inspire heat terror in me. I thought they were sort of easygoing.

                Tho now looking at your pictures I just realized my pork chop was missing the sauce. Which sucks.

              2. Went to Hell Night last night. Great experience!

                My SO and I did a tapas style meal where we pretty much ordered a bunch of appetizers while forgoing the entrees. We ordered, the thai sicks, the shrimp, the scallops, four spare ribs, the wings, and the pasta from hell. We also had a side of the hell fries.

                The shrimp came out first, and they were, imho, spectacular. Cooked perfectly, and a sauce that was extremely flavorful AND hot, but the heat kicked in in the back of your mouth. It didn't blast you the second it touched your tongue, and the flavors came through nicely.

                The ribs followed, and these were probably my favorite dish of the night. A bite of these babies took you through a nice progression from sweet and smoky through to a not-to-be-ignored peppery kick. Not EXTREMELY hot, certainly not as hot as what was to come, but between the ribs and shrimp we had a nice fire going by that point.

                The scallops followed. I'm not a huge fan, but they are my girlfriend's favorite. She proclaimed them outstanding, and I don't think they were extremely hot, because I saw her going back to them for relief later on!

                Along the way, we were munching on the hell fries. Good, but a bit disappointing. They weren't particularly hot or flavorful, but they had a nice potato taste and mouth feel. It seemed like only every other fry was spicy at all. However, these things were a godsend later, as, especially with some ketchup, they offered a bit of relief.

                So, what to say about the wings of ass destruction. They were an experience unto themselves. The wings themselves appeared to be broiled as opposed to fried, and they were covered (but not doused) in what looked to me like little more than a dusky orange habanero puree. They came amusingly with a side of blue cheese for dipping (more on this later!).

                We both took a bite.....blam. This is not a subtle or late arriving heat. These things will knock you down. I was downing my water a glass at a time by this point, not that it helped at all...in fact, it just seemed to spread it around more. I made my way through an entire wing, and my mouth literally was ablaze. I couldnt' really taste anything. My nose was running, my eyes were watering, the sweat was beading. I downed a couple hell fries with ketchup, swigged some water, and went for another one. This time, I tried to mellow the experience with a slater of blu-cheese. It might have helped to dampen the initial impact a bit, but by the time I had finished this second one I knew I needed a break. The area around my mouth was burning. I couldn't taste much. I nibbled on a fried plantain, chewed on an ice cube, and tried to calm down. It was awesome.

                Finally...what to say about the pasta from hell? It's more of a joke, of course, a novelty. Of course I tried it. I wrapped about two noodles around my fork and tasted. Insane, and not particularly pleasant. This dish is really just like eating raw habaneros, and was the only thing that really upset my stomach. One bite of this will incapacitate you, no doubt. In my agony, one of our friends suggested I eat some of the blue cheese straight with a spoon. I did. It didn't help much. The only cure was time. But I couldnt' stop....in my pain, I thought eating another sparerib would help. While delicious, it did little to alleviate the distress. Finally, after chewing on three or four ice cubes and sitting perfectly zen still, I began to normalize.

                And then, just when I was over the hump, I took a big honking bite of another wing and set the whole process in motion again.

                What a night! I can't wait to go back.

                1 Reply
                1. re: tamerlanenj

                  Great account, thanks! One tip - as you discovered, drinking water not only doesn't cool things down, it makes them worse by spreading the capsaicin around your mouth. The best solution is to eat some bland starch (bread, rice, potato, etc) that will absorb the volatile oils.

                  On the subject of the pasta from hell - the recipe appears in Chris Schlesinger's cookbook The Thrill of the Grill, and he advises home cooks to add anywhere from 2 to 10 habaƱeros "to taste." If you make it with just a few it's still killer hot but actually has a nice fruity flavor, as it includes bananas and oranges, which enhance the natural fruitiness of the peppers. For Hell Night I'm sure they prepare it using 10 or more, it's always the hotter-than-hot challenge dish of the night.

                2. wow, I've never heard of this place! I'll have to try next time I'm in the area...but...so they use Capsaicin extract to 'cheat on the heat'?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jbyoga

                    Not at all, sorry if I gave that impression. It's just that capsaicin is the chemical that provides the "heat" in food, whether it's naturally occurring or not. When you're working with habaƱeros there's no need to add any artificially!

                    1. re: BobB

                      thanks! I just realized I had a typo in my post...the so they was supposed to be do they....

                      thanks for the reply - I hope to try that place someday!

                      years ago I actually worked at the Hot Stuff store in Manhattan - gained quite an appreciation for the mighty Habanero and Scotch Bonnet....yumm...those were the days...

                  2. I just posted this on another thread, but will post it again:
                    I went on Monday night with my boyfriend. We started with the "asswings", as they were written on our check----the spiciest thing I've ever eaten. I hear they were spicier than the pasta, but we didn't get that. I had the Habanero tequila and it was indeed an experience. I decided to just go for it as my mouth was burning from the wings anyway. Things calmed down a bit with the entrees we ordered: Ferocious Fried Scallops and West Indies Pork 3 Ways. The scallops were delicious plus the sides were excellent as well, some of the best green beans I've ever had. The pork dishes were not quite as good. Nothing was too spicy, but after the wings, it was hard to tell.

                    1. The Pasta from Hell was served in a pumpkin, to fit the "Helloween" theme, I guess:


                      The wings were hotter than I remembered, but not as hot as the pasta. The pasta gave me full body convulsions. The thai sticks, porked three ways, oysters, were all blissfull relief compared to the wings and pasta.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Alcachofa

                        What on earth is that pasta covered with? As best I recall from previous visits it was simply spaghetti or linguini with an orange-colored sauce, in this picture it has so much stuff on top you can't even see the pasta!

                        1. re: BobB

                          Our guess was that the topping was ground habanero pepper!!!!!!!! :O

                      2. I was at Hell Night last night. And it was pretty good. I've enjoyed the dishes at other hell nights more. It also seemed that the portions were smaller than they had been. I also have a memory that they used to provide free corn bread. Now, you have to order and pay for it. Unfortunately, the service was something less than desirable and it definitely colored the evening.

                        There were 5 of us and we shared a bunch of apps and one entree.


                        Tuna and Shrimp Poke - this was delicious although not very spicy. But, one member of our party must have inhaled a pepper seed because she just about coughed up a lung. The seaweed was great. Little pepper flakes throughout.

                        Baked Stuffed Quahogs with Chourico, Corn & Aji Dulce Mayo - 3 large quahogs that we easily split. Again, tasty but not too spicy.

                        Cumin Grilled Shrimp with Cumari - Mango Mojo, Crispy Chayote Slaw & Yuca Chips - this was absolutely delicious. There were 3 shrimp ($12.50 for the app, there should have been 4) but they were delicious. The cumin infused into the shrimp and there was a slight bite to it. It was more of a slow crawl as opposed to the pasta which hits you hard and fast. The chips were also good. Delicious but a measly portion all around.

                        We also had an order of cornbread. We didn't need it for the above appetizers but we ended up eating it because we had to wait 40 minutes for the next few dishes. All the tables around us were being served their dishes (some of which were the same as ours) but our food never came. Our waitress was also MIA. The water guy came around numerous times, but would only fill up half the table. We were finally able to grab his attention to get the other half of the table water.

                        Good thing we had the cornbread because we were starving and the wait was interminable.

                        Finally, our wings and porkchop came along with the fries and celery.

                        Wings of Ass Destruction Jerked, Smoked & Fried Wings with Real Inner Beauty Hot Sauce - I could smell the habeneros oozing off the wings. I thought the first bite was difficult. After that, it wasn't as spicy. My co-eaters disagreed with me. The wings themselves had a very nice flavor. But they were mostly drumsticks. I like the other piece (2 bones with the meat in between) better. Out of 7 wings, there were 6 drumsticks.

                        Spit Roasted Monster Pork Chop with Fatali Sausage - Corn Sauce, Chipotle Mashed Potatoes & Blistering Broccoli - this was delicious and unlike the the appetizers, a generous portion. Where to start.... the mashed potatoes. These were great and had some serious bite to them. At first glance, they looked like sweet potatoes because they were so orange. I don't know how they achieved such a uniform orangey color but they were delicious. A slow heat that mixed in with the potatoey flavor. The broccoli also had heat. I can't tell how. There were no pepper flakes or visible peppers on the *one floret * provided with the dish. The pork. Yum. a tad overcooked, but not by much. I can't say much about the flavor, other than there were various subtle spicy notes to each bite.

                        French fries - we just got the plain. They were delicious. But not hot, just warm. We were so hungry that we (sort of ) didn't care at that point.

                        Of course, once we got our food, and this batch was spicier than the last. The water guys disappeared. And, we never really saw our waitress either. They appeared when the dishes emptied but despite numerous requests, we still couldn't get our water glasses filled. To add insult to injury, the waitress cleared one diner's unfinished beer. It was less than half full but more than the lemon in it. When I confronted the waitress, (after she threw the dessert menus on the table) she first denied it, stating that the glass was empty. Then she grudgingly offered to replace it. We declined because we were so sick of her attitude. She was surly throughout the entire evening and honestly, we weren't being a pain. We sat there patiently waiting for our food and water. The dessert menu was the standard ECG dessert menu (I do love the jamaican banana split) but when I asked the surly waitress if there were any specials, she told us that there was a chocolate chili ice cream. But, everything she said or did gave us the impression that she was doing us a favor.

                        So, the food was pretty good although the portions were significantly smaller than they had been. But, the service was shameful. I love spicy food, ECG and Hell Night, but I do have to think twice about going again.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: beetlebug

                          Our service was not that bad, but I could definitely sense that the waitress was kinda tired of Hell Nights. Also, I think they are over-booking. I will definitely go on the first night offered next time. Hopefully everyone will be in a better mood on the first night.