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Sep 22, 2011 10:20 AM

ECG Hell Night Rec's

I post this almost every Hell Night, but I'm curious if anyone went this week and if so what was good...

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  1. I find the hell night menu has become two extremes: a few signature items that are ridiculously hot and the rest are spicy but relatively tame on the heat scale (probably to accommodate the masses). Friends were dying to try it, so we went on the first night. Following is a run down of what we ordered:

    - Russian Roulette Style Italian Spicy Meat Ball with SmokyTomato Sauce (2-6 bombs): The meatballs themselves were tiny and crap tasting. Out of the 4 balls I would say we got one 6 (mine), two 2s and one 4. Mine was pretty mouth scathingly hot. I think this is what I felt the next day.

    - Island Creek Oysters with Sriracha Slush (4 bombs): These had the heat of very spicy cocktail sauce with lots of horseradish. They were excellent, but not very challenging.

    - Jonah Rock Crab Claws with Mango - New Mexico Big Jim Mojo (2 bombs): Could have been on the wimp menu really. Fine if you like crab claws.

    - Grilled Corn on the Cob with Pasilla Chiles, Farmer Cheese & Lime (3 bombs): This one felt more than 3 bombs. It had very good heat. Unfortunately the corn was soggy and not too tasty otherwise. The grilled corn at Toro it is not (remotely). Big portion, 4 pieces.

    - Korean Fried Chicken Thigh with Peach Kim Chee & Yan Yeun Kangjang (4 bombs): My favorite item of the night. Great juicy and tasty thigh. Loved the peach kim chee. This was not very hot though. I could have eaten them all night without a tingle on my tongue. Small portion, 1 piece.

    - Thai Style Crispy Pork Salad with Tomato, Cucumber, Peanut & Roasted Lemon Chile - Sesame Dressing (3 bombs): Good tasting and composition. Meager portion, no heat to speak of.

    - Phucket Style “Wings of Ass Destruction” with Bird Chiles, Nuoc Cham & Aromatic Herbs (7 bombs): These have been MUCH hotter when I had them in the past (mouth on fire, couldn't finish, felt them the next day). These wings were good and hot, but I could easily eat the entire portion myself without stopping. This was one of the best dishes. It was hot and still good tasting. No wonder it is one of the few Hell Week items offered regularly.

    - New and Improved Pasta From Hell Sausage Bolognese & The (World Record Pending) Trinidad Scorpion (10 bombs): I haven't tried this in the past and only dabbed a bit in my mouth this time. That spot in my mouth went numb for awhile. Our DC was gung ho to get the pasta and downed the entire plate. He was sweating after a minute and gagging by the half way point. He got it down though and was rewarded with a signed book from Chris for his efforts. By all reports his hangover lasted several days.

    - West Indian Style Pork Duo with Scotch Bonnet - Garlic Smoked Pork Shoulder, Habanero Sausage, Banana Guava Ketchup (6 bombs): This was ok. I liked the sausage. This was a large dish. By no means were 6 bombs of heat evident.

    - Latin Style Spit Roasted Pork Chop With Hatch Chile Salsa, Grilled Corn - Chilitepin Hash & Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes (4 bombs): This is the pork chop that tipped over Fred Flintstone's car. It was tasty enough, but again very little heat. The sweet potatoes were yummy.

    - Tidewater Cole Slaw: Good for cooling any flames.

    - Hoppin Jalapeno Cornbread: The cornbread itself was crap. Actually a bit hot.

    The table next to us were drinking white russians with their wings. Actually not a bad call.

    An ambulance did come for someone in the restroom as we were leaving. Unclear if it was a patron who got over spiced or put a finger in their eye, a cook who inhaled too many fumes or just a PR stunt (though it looked legit).

    All in all a fun night, but it seems like they make the pasta overly harsh and everything else less than expected.

    By the way, the bar was half empty the entire time we were there and there appeared to be walk in tables available from cancellations.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Gabatta

      Judging by your feeling that the entrees were not that hot, I think maybe your nerve endings were already singed from the earlier dishes.

      Would love it if a hound would order some entrees first, and then try some apps to test this theory.

      1. re: Gabatta

        Great review by Gabatta! I can add a few of my impressions, will try not to repeat.
        (fyi: I was there on Wednesday night 5:30 with 10 people. This was my 27th HnH).

        I recognize that the Hotter-n-Hell is clearly dinner theater rather than fine dining. Not that the food isn't good (it usually is), but the whole event is a testosterone-fest from the loud music to the stage smoke and the screaming in the kitchen. It's a blast, but it's not haute cuisine. All that said, here are some notes about the food:

        - You had to ask for the "guava" ribs to get the spares coated in the hot inner beauty sauce. My rib was tough and dry. The ribs on the menu are baby backs and my waittress confided that they weren't going to be hot.

        - Concur with Gabatta re: Pasta. Much hotter than I remember. Must be that new scorpion pepper. It doesn't seem humanly possible to eat a whole portion. Yes - I heard about the ambulance and I believe it to be real.

        - Roulette Meatballs were a fail this time. Partially our own fault as some of my tablemates just grabbed and gobbled instead of waiting for 1-2-3. We should have started with these because anyone who'd eaten a Wing may not have tastebuds for a few minutes. Eventually they were all eaten and no one admitted to getting the hot one. So, roulette didn't work. And, $2.50 a pop for tiny meatballs is a gouge.

        - Wings of Ass Destruction are the star appetizer. 'nuff said.

        - I had the Vietnamese Style Big Bowl o' Seafood entree and it was tasty and hot. Danced on the line where I wanted to keep slurping the broth but had to put the spoon down a few times. Perfect level of heat. The entrees are typically are a disappointment from heat standpoint. The seafood itself was fine, nothing special, but the ghost-chile lemongrass broth made it worthwhile..

        - Between others at the table we ordered all the entrees but shrimp&scallops. Nothing special to note from a heat or quality standpoint. That pork chop was impressive looking. I had a bite and it was dry.

        So, bottomline is you go for the fun of it. Choose your tablemates accordingly. The apps are usually the highlight, not the entrees.

        1. re: spicyivan

          you have been to 27 hotter than hell nights and you feel that the pasta is unfinishable?
          thats good enough for me. i like hot food but really have no interest anymore in suffering for several days. just not worth it for me.

          1. re: hyde

            As I side, I enjoy the theater, but I have never set out to finish the bowl of pasta. In the olden days, I'd eat a few substantial bites, but the peppers have really gotten much hotter and (like you), I don't need to suffer for 24 hours anymore. I'll leave that to the others who are crazier than me. Of course, I'm not above goading new-comers at my table to take a big hearty gulp. Dinner theater!

            1. re: spicyivan

              i have a "friend" like you, who, after ordering off menu at sichuan gourmet in framingham, (where the staff seemed to know him), chided me into finishing a soupy noodle dish,the name of which i never knew. the heat seemed to build throughout the dish and the sweat burst out of me after i finished. the exit was REALLY bad the next day, nearly crippling. that was it for me, no more taking bets on whether i can finish a dish for sport.

              1. re: hyde

                I find that taking a handful of activated charcoal capsules (they can't hurt you, so I take 16-20) with a hot meal helps a lot with the digestive aftereffects. I do have to admit it's been a while since I've had a meal hot enough to have those aftereffects though--either the food I'm getting is milder, or I'm redeveloping a tolerance for it.

          2. re: spicyivan

            how reliable are the spiciness ratings on the menu?

            1. re: nasilemak

              very unreliable. items/dishes tend to be ranked based on history but will vary from hell night/week to hell night/week. Even then, there's little consistency, you'll find many 5 bomb dishes that are milder than 3.

              I've found that in general entrees are less spicy per bomb than apps.

          3. re: Gabatta

            What we noticed about the wings was that they were missing much of the front heat that they had in years past but had just as much building/back heat. I remember the last couple of times that I had them I thought they were "hot" but after about 4 or 5 the buildup was pushing my boundaries. This time I didn't think they were hot at all but that same buildup showed up around hte same point.