Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Sep 30, 2009 06:14 AM

ECG's Hell Night Suggestions/Warnings?

Going to my first Hell Night next week and I was looking for some suggestions and warnings. I've been told to stay away from anything higher than 5 bombs if I dont wish to pay the price the next day.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I will be there next Wednesday and this will be my fifth or sixth time going. The bomb rating for the appetizers is much more accurate than the main courses. Usually our group goes with mostly all appetizers as we like to really bring the heat. The main courses, while still hot, tend to have more mellowed spice. All of the food tends to balance flavor and heat very well with the exception of the extremely spicy pasta from hell which is a killer.

    The wings are always great, the oyster and sausage combo is also a favorite of mine. The duck leg is very good. The pork trio and spit roasted chicken look very tasty for the mains. The full menu is up on-line here:

    See you in hell! :)

    4 Replies
    1. re: TomH

      The Jalapeno – Corn Stuffed Monster Pork Chop sounds incredible as does the Shanghi Smoked Duck Leg . My girlfriend has since chosen to order off of the wimp menu, which will probabaly look like a good idea at the end of the night, her father is set on getting the pasta, I think he'll wisely back out though.

      1. re: TomH

        Just a suggestion, but since a few hounds may be there Wednesday, why not have a mini-chowdown, sit together and share?

        1. re: Taralli

          Unfortunately I'll be there Thursday, I'd be interested in some reviews if said Chowdown were to take place.

        2. re: TomH

          I don't know that I'd say "more accurate" (it is all subjective anyways) but the apps generally are hotter for a given bomb rating than entrees.

          On the wing front - I really like them, but I'm always leery of super hot finger food for obvious reasons.

          As for me, I'm goin' with the short rib :)

        3. The bomb ratings are notoriously unreliable - sometimes 3 bombs is much hotter than 5 or 6 bombs. Ask the servers what they believe the true rating should be.

          The wings and the pasta from hell (obviously) are consistently very very hot.

          I would order what you think you would like flavorwise and not worry so much about the bomb rating.

          9 Replies
          1. re: DoubleMan

            I'll be there on Wednesday as well for the first time, bringing my son, who likes it hot. We'll see how hot. I hear the Thai wings are quite hot.
            Here's a question: is it worth ordering the pasta from hell just to try an inch or two for the experience, or will that kill us for the rest of the stuff?

            For comparison, we eat regularly from Sichuan Gourmet, and don't have much problem downing what they can dish out.

            1. re: justbeingpolite

              I agree with the approach to try a few of the apps while still getting an entree or two and would agree that the appetizers can really pack more of a punch. My personal experience with hot foods (which I love) is that if I eat some really hot stuff first, it sticks with me so everything else I eat after that seems extremely (sometimes way too) spicy.

              Which brings me to the pasta from hell.... I have had it a couple times simply because I really like the taste and the fact that is combines some type of bolognese gravy with the habanero flavor. But it's so darn hot, it can crowd out the enjoyment of the rest of the meal.

              So, one suggestion would be, get the pasta for the table but order it with the entrees.

              Damn I wish I was going to Hell Night now.

              1. re: jogo7375

                Bolognese gravy? Sounds like they've changed the recipe completely, the original (which I've made at home, from the recipe in Chris Schlesinger's cookbook) is a fruit-based sauce with orange, pineapple, banana and lime, as well as an insane amount of habanero pepper. No meat, no tomato. If you tone down the habanero it's actually quite tasty.

                1. re: BobB

                  I would describe it currently as being something like a bolognese sauce but using inner beauty & an insane amount of super hot chiles (habanero, bhut jolokia, etc) instead of tomatoes

                  1. re: BobB

                    That sounds like what they now call Inner Beauty hot sauce, which you can get on a lot of things at ECG and the All-Star.

                    1. re: bobot

                      It is indeed very similar to Inner Beauty, which they used to have made and bottled for them in Costa Rica (and which was also sold in stores) but which inexplicably disappeared from the market several years ago. There were actually two varieties, Inner Beauty Hot Sauce and Inner Beauty REAL Hot Sauce.

                      Sounds like they now make it in-house.

                      1. re: BobB

                        I'm pretty sure that I read on here or was told at ECG that they sold the rights to Inner Beauty some time ago. So while they retain the right to use it in the restaurant, they no longer can bottle and sell it. Although the bottles no longer are on the table, I still regularly ask for sides of inner beauty with my meals.

                2. re: justbeingpolite

                  "we eat regularly from Sichuan Gourmet, and don't have much problem downing what they can dish out."

                  You can put me in the camp of people that never have a problem at Sich Gourmet and related places. The pasta put me on my ass. It was a whole higher level of hot that I have only encountered once or twice before in my life :) We shared it across 8 people though.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    Same with the pasta from hell knocking me out. I can take a lot of heat so I was shocked by how spicy it was for me. And, it was so spicy that I couldn't taste the complexities, I only tasted haberenos. We split the dish but it did take several minutes for my taste buds to get back in whack.

                    ETA: everyone else stopped after one bite. I was stupid enough to take a few more bites after that - just to be sure it was as spicy that my taste buds thought it was. stupid move bc everyone else continued eating the shared dishes while I waited for my senses to come back.

              2. I have to say, if you are looking for "warnings" perhaps you shouldn't even be going to Hell Night.

                15 Replies
                1. re: Alcachofa

                  I have to say, "why?". I like spicy, I just want to be able to enjoy my food and not suffer too, too much the next day. It's not all about proving what a tough guy/girl you are, is it. Cause if it is, I probably don't want to go. I thought it was a night for folks who normally like their food good and spicy, and always throw some hot sauce on their dishes, to try some food especially made just for them.

                  1. re: justbeingpolite

                    The food is both spicy and extremely flavorful. I find the Pasta From Hell very spicy but I also love the flavor of it. Even with the ghost peppers that they now use I still enjoy the overall flavor of the dish and have split a full portion with a dining companion. That being said, nothing else on the menu is at the level of the pasta and most of it will bring both solid heat and great flavors.

                    1. re: TomH

                      Speaking of the ghost chiles, I was curious why they're inconsistent on their menu. In at least one place they refer to them as bhut jolokias and in other(s?) it is listed as ghost chile.

                      1. re: jgg13

                        They are the same pepper just using the different names. I wonder if they are trying to scare you by calling it the ghost pepper? :)

                        1. re: TomH

                          ghost chile is a valid name for it (bhut means ghost), so i dunno that they're just doing it to scare you ... but that's as valid a reason as any I suppose. My friend from Nagaland says that they just call them "the king" over there.

                      2. re: TomH

                        Ghost chiles?! Seriously? I can't wait for Wednesday!!!

                        Looks like people are suggesting ordering a big round of apps and then a few dishes. We were wondering how to play it for a table of six...are the mains really splittable?

                      3. re: justbeingpolite

                        In response to justbeingpolite:

                        Although undoubtedly it sometimes is about someone showing how tough they can be, for most of us it's closer to an addiction. And many of us have built up our spice tolerance to the point where we can can enjoy the spice AND enjoy the flavor. The Thai wings currently on the ECG menu are insanely spicy AND insanely delicious, although to those with a lesser spice tolerance, the former would overwhelm the latter.

                        BTW, while on occasion (not often, but sometimes) I will suffer in the moment, I never suffer the next day. If you do, you shouldn't be eating the stuff.

                        1. re: Blumie

                          I disagree entirely. I've known many people who love going to hell night, but find things listed as 3 bombs as being borderline too-painful. But they find that the 1-3 bomb range is still providing fare that isn't commonly available at other locations.

                          People seem to assume that if you can't eat dangerous guatemalan peppers grown by mental patients that it isn't worth it.

                          To justbeingpolite: There are people who use it as a testosterone match, there are those who just like finding generally well balanced food that happens to be hotter than the norm. I would guess that the 1-2 bomb range would be "spicy" to most normal people, with 3 starting to hit the "really spicy" range, and going up from there.

                          1. re: Blumie

                            Could not disagree more. The pasta from hell is indeed so spicy that it does not allow an appreciation of the taste. If one looks to culinary cultures that favor spicy foods, the spice level is never at the point where the ability to discern taste is inhibited. Pasta with bolognese sauce should still taste of the original dish. In addition, you do not develop a tolerance to spice in your anus, so being comfortable the next day has nothing to do with habituation.

                            1. re: aadesmd

                              As I said above I can absolutely taste the flavors in the Pasta From Hell dish. Sure it is as spicy as hell but the smoky flavors of the naga peppers, the citrus in the dish and the sausage flavors all come through. The pasta was also perfectly cooked. I wouldn't consider myself a "chili head" but I do like spicy food. If there were only heat to these dishes what would be the point in going? Chris Schlesinger has shown throughout his career the ability to walk the fine line between spicy and flavorful.

                              1. re: aadesmd

                                However, the unpleasant "day after" phenomenon to which you refer is by no means universal. Blumie himself states he's never suffered from it. I myself have, on occasion, but often have not, even when I've eaten stuff that strains my own fairly high capsaicin tolerance.

                                I think it's more related to how well you digest the peppers in question, rather than their absolute heat level.

                                1. re: BobB

                                  In contrast, I tend to get the day after effect even when something barely registers as being hot for me. Your suggestion of digestion quality is probably on the mark.

                                2. re: aadesmd

                                  "The pasta from hell is indeed so spicy that it does not allow an appreciation of the taste."

                                  If you want to state that as OPINION, that is fine.

                                  But I most certainly DO taste the pasta bolognese in the Pasta from Hell. And it's delicious.

                                  Agree on the anus factor.

                                  1. re: Alcachofa

                                    Most everything on this board is an OPINION. I cannot distinuish that it is bolognese sauce on the pasta from hell, but then again I can only get one mouthfull down. I made the mistake of eating it first, and it affected my appreciation of the rest of the meal.

                              2. re: justbeingpolite

                                I went to a Hell Night a long time ago, and never had a desire to do another one. I think it's a question of just how much heat you can take combined with very careful ordering. I think most people who like hot and spicy dishes will still find many things on the Hell Night menu that will be too hot and will kill their taste buds for the rest of the night (and possibly their digestive system later).

                                So if you aren't a total chili fiend I think you have to be ready to stop eating a dish after a couple bites if it turns out to be way spicier than you thought. Most of these dishes aren't balanced even for people who like spicy food, and I guess that's the point. It's for people who order dishes extra spicy and then always think, "they call this spicy?"

                                Also, I have seen the pasta from hell make people lick the carpet and pour milk all over their face.

                            2. The website says reservations for groups of 5 or more only. How long is the line if there are just 2 of us, say early at 6PM?

                              18 Replies
                              1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                                That's only for normal nights. For hell night you pretty much *need* a reservation unless you luck out w/ cancellations.

                                Watch their twitter feed tomorrow as they posted some open times on a first come, first served basis this afternoon.

                                1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                                  2 at 6:00pm should be able to sit at the bar with a minimal, or no, wait. So if you don't mind the bar I say you should be all set.

                                  1. re: TomH

                                    I went last night around 7:45 and had no problem getting two seats at the bar. ECG recommends coming in close to the hour when people at the bar (who are waiting to be seated) will get up for their reservation. It seemed to hold true.

                                    Also, split the chicken thigh appetizer, which was pretty good but my entree was both delicious and horribly spicy - the braised short rib. The braised short rib was cooked to tender perfection and the mashed sweet potatoes were surprisingly the hottest thing on the plate.

                                    I only do Hell Night every couple of years but everytime I do it right - by ending the night at Christina's next door :-)

                                    1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                                      I dont remember seeing the short rib on the menu. Was it a special?

                                      1. re: NahantNative

                                        Nope, it was on their menu. It was well worth it but very spicy!

                                      2. re: CreativeFoodie42

                                        Last time I went, which was a few years ago, they offered chocolate chili ice cream from Christinas which was amazing. It also had pistachios and berries in it, so you touched on every taste sensation. It's worth going just for the ice cream. I would be curious if it's on this years menu.

                                        1. re: Pegmeister

                                          The bartender offered it last night but we just wanted to get out of there and cool down! :-)

                                          1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                                            Great recommendations, all.
                                            Went last night. It wasn't too crazy, though kind of loud. Those who said the apps were hotter than the entrees were right on. We started with the hell ribs, slathered with Inner Beauty sauce. Probably the hottest thing all night, thought it might have simply burnt out the buds a little. Really good flavors on everything. The smoked duck leg was hot, but deliciously smoky. The oysters had hot sauce on 'em, but the oysters themselves plump and delicous, and cooled off the tongue after the ribs nicely. Dr. Pepper talked us into adding the wings of mass destruction, great idea. Perfectly cooked wings with a sauce that tasted mostly sweet after the ribs. Great flavor. The mains were spiced, but tame in comparison to the apps, despite higher bomb number. We had the pork chop and the braised short rib. That short rib was amazing, tender, fatty, nicely spiced. We didn't find the heat in the mashed sweet potatoes, Creativefoodie, but thanks for steering us to the dish.
                                            We elected to pass on the pasta from hell. The table next to us had it. They finished it (5 or 6 folks at the table). They seemed proud, but were sweating up a storm, and said it kind of killed the taste of the rest of the meal. Maybe we'll try it late in the meal some other year.
                                            Passed on the Chocolate chili ice cream too in favor of a trip to Christina's for more traditional flavors: the coconut almond chip was fabulous. The Pasta from Hell table had it, said it brought serious heat. Who am I to doubt them?
                                            Only feeling a little rough this morning. I'm not sure it's from the chilis of the amount of fat coursing through me.
                                            Thanks for all the suggestions/warnings, hounds!!!

                                            1. re: justbeingpolite

                                              Thanks for the report! If anyone's gonna be there tonight, look for me (even though most of you don't know what I look like!) solo at the bar tonight around 7:30 or 8pm.

                                              1. re: Blumie

                                                You're welcome. And Blumie, in reference to your previous mention of the Thai wings. They're not on the Hell Night menu, and I don't think anything on the menu, except the pasta from hell (and perhaps those ribs), could touch them for hotness.

                                                1. re: justbeingpolite

                                                  Are you sure the wings you had were not the Thai wings? I know the name on the menu is different, but I figured that they probably were the same. In any event, other than the pasta from hell, the Thai wings are the only other ECG dish that I've ever struggled to get through.

                                                  1. re: Blumie

                                                    Maybe, but they were on the menu as Wings of Mass Destruction, which I think are often on their menu. Kind of reddish sauce on the wings, over some shaved stuff (radish, kale, jicama?). I thought I'd had the Thai wings and they had a crunchy coating in them, which these did not. Also, these wings were definitely not killer hot, but really, really delicious.

                                                    1. re: justbeingpolite

                                                      I hadn't planned on ordering the wings tonight, but I'll take a look around and see if they're the same. They used to have wings on the menu that they called wings of (m)ass destruction; perhaps they've brought those back for hell night. (Both are great, but I prefer the thai wings.)

                                              2. re: justbeingpolite

                                                Great review! How was the pork chop entree? any good? heat level?

                                                1. re: NahantNative

                                                  Good. Not killer heat by any means (caveat: ate it after the ribs, and everything seemed milder after). The jalapeno corn stuffing and salsa with it was quite good, as were the sweet potatoes (which seemed prepared several ways: fried and baked at least)on the side. The pork chop itself was huge, with a great glaze, but I think so big that the center was a little dry. I thought the short ribs were over the top better.

                                                2. re: justbeingpolite

                                                  if you were foolish the milder entrees were not necessarily so.
                                                  We know we always eat too much appetizers so I chose to split the trout with my husband thinking it was interesting but maybe too mild.
                                                  I foolishly asked them to kick it up a notch. Bear in mind we ate the wings with no hassle and are pasta alumni, we nearly cried. It was evil as it was unbelievably hot coupled with amazing flavors. You kept eating because of the flavours as we proved to ourselves that the fish skin, sausage, fish flesh and even the herbs were all laced with liquid fire. I havent had the courage to eat the leftovers and the day after was a little interesting.
                                                  A total success!

                                                  1. re: justbeingpolite

                                                    Glad you enjoyed the short rib! I thought it was a delicious as well...although maybe I'm a bit of a wimp that I found the sweet potatoes spicy! :-)

                                                    1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                                                      Or maybe some Inner Beauty fell into yours, as it did my daughter's supposedly non spicy veggie plate :o)

                                        2. So a little recap after our trip to Hell last night. We had a group of eight and ordered a bunch of appetizers and two mains.

                                          The deviled egg Russian Roulette was pretty fun with all of them having great flavor and heat but one of the people at our table getting crushed with an insanely spicy egg. The Folsom chili was awesome again this time. However they definitely kicked up the heat in it this year. It was loaded with tender meat and is in sort of a "mole" type sauce. The Wings were one of my favorite items this year. Sticky, sweet plump wings with a pepper glaze, including seeds, to bring the heat. The ribs were also fantastic. Coated in Inner Beauty sauce with a crunchy bark on the outside but moist and tender inside. We also ordered some items from the raw bar and one dish includes a scotch bonnet sausage which was better this year that in past years. The consistency of the meat and peppers inside the sausage was a finer grind this time making the sausage smoother and tastier, for me at least.

                                          We also ordered the Pasta From Hell but saved that for last. :)

                                          For mains we ordered the short rib and the Trinidad trio. The mains were not as spicy as the appetizers but brought great flavor. The short rib was fall-off-the-bone tender and having the tree way platter was also a great way to sample multiple takes and flavors. Everything was cooked perfectly and the accompanying sides were also great. I could not stop going back for more of those wings though!

                                          We split the Pasta dish next and I must say we all agreed it was even hotter this year than in past years. It seemed to have a LOT of slices of ghost chiles throughout the dish. The heat just builds and builds. The pasta was well cooked and the sausage bolognese added flavor and a second type of heat to the dish.

                                          To finish off we had the chocolate chili ice cream. It was great. I always love spicy ice creams and sorbets so I was a big fan. It was probably second to the jalapeno sorbet I had at EVOO a year ago in terms of flavor.

                                          Needless to say another great experience at Hell Night and we will be back next time!