ECG Hell Night October 8-10
I'll be going on Wednesday night for my first visit after being shut out more than once. I'm hoping to here from Hounds who went last night or tonight. What are your recommendations? Is it as hot as other times? Old favorites? New items?
The fall menu is here:
(sorry- Meant "Hell Night October 8-10")
Went for the 7:30 seating last night. It was my fourth time attending, after missing the last few. Getting seated for Hell Night these days can be harder than scoring a table at NYC's trendiest new spots. This time out, I waited in line at 9:00 AM on a Saturday to make the reservation in person, which appears to be the only reliable way to get it done, at least until the current wave of hype subsides.
We had a shellfish allergy at our table, so abstained from any treats from the raw bar. My own past experience was that oysters and clams are some of the highlights, although purists would probably argue that too much spice is a waste of perfectly good bivalves.
We started with an order of the aptly named Wings of Ass Destruction for the table, which this time out were a semi-traditional jerk preparation. Quite hot, but not necessarily beyond the realm of an authentic Jamaican jerk or Indian curry. Looking past the spice for a moment, they were tastier than previous incarnations of the dish, at least in my opinion. I remember the searing heat of the ghost chile wings from my previous visit, but not so much the flavor. All in all, it is a dish I would order again, even on a non-hell night.
Russian roulette meatballs are a fun little gimmick, but between the four members of our party, no one seemed to get one that was beyond medium intensity. Not a real standout, but a fun (and affordable) way to get the ball rolling, especially if you have a table of four or more.
Due to a bit of miscommunication with the waitstaff, we ended up with a couple of orders of the baby-back ribs (we were told the ribs had been upgraded to 8 bombs, but turned out that was referring to the single ribs from the starters section of the menu). They were very tasty, with a nice meaty chew. Be advised that these are not the falling-off-the-bone braised style of ribs that some have come to expect from baby-backs, which is totally fine as far as I am concerned. Spice-wise they were fairly tame, but that did not stop me from enjoying them thoroughly. If I had it to do again, I would probably try the steak, which looked pretty excellent on its way by.
The catfish wasn't as well executed as the ribs. The fish was good, but the crust was a bit soggy on account of the salsa placed on top and rice and beans underneath. It did pack a potent yet well-tempered punch of spice that I felt was the best-balanced heat of the night.
After being somewhat disappointed that we had made it through the meal without anyone crying, we decided to go out with a bang and split an order of the 14-bomb curry chicken. This is apparently being made with ghost chiles, not the as-advertised Moruga scorpions, due to limited availability of the latter. I am totally OK with that; these were hot enough for even the most seasoned of chile-heads.
The first bite seemed pretty tame for a good 5-7 seconds and was actually quite tasty, with a deep earthy flavor reminiscent of a good Mexican mole. Then there is a truly devilish heat that starts off intense and continues to build over the next 5-10 minutes. I never tried the fabled Pasta from Hell, so I can't make a direct comparison, but this was definitely the hottest dish I have ever eaten. Three of our four party members ended up with hiccups from a single bite. I had the lion's share with about five or six bites, including one of just the sauce, and paid dearly in a myriad of different ways over the next twelve hours. Definitely a worthwhile experience if you are into that level of pain, but not one I will be rushing out to repeat anytime soon. About once a year is good enough for me.
Was also there last night. In general I felt like things were generally tastier but less hot than previous incarnations. I didn't go the last iteration but have been going nearly every time for several years now.
I really dug the mochi. Chewy rice cylinders with a gochujang sauce. It wasn't particularly hot and made for a good refuge from when the mouth was on fire but was really yummy.
Both the hell bones and the jerk WADs have traditionally relied on the inner beauty sauce to bring the heat. I don't know if it is an artifact of the ownership change or not but the IB sauce was definitely different - chunkier, more greenish color. Didn't have the in your face C. Chinense flavor that the old one did, but much more well rounded. Was also not as hot as typical, which led to the wings and ribs to be similarly flavored. That said, both tasted better than I remember them tasting in the past (and not just because the heat was lower).
Agree on the meatballs - this was the 4th or 5th time I've tried that. I'm convinced that there's just a single batch of meatballs where due to the vagaries of mixing some might be hotter than others. Combine this with different people having different tolerances and it is totally possible that everyone could have the exact same scovilles in their meatball and one person think they got the hot one and others thinking they got no such thing.
The red beans & rice (from the apps menu, not the sides) was kinda blah all around.
We split that curry chicken that replaced the pasta and your description was spot on. Dr Pepper had told us to "keep moving your gums" and he was 100% correct - I'm pretty sure that if you could eat a couple of bites you could survive the whole thing because as you said the heat was all backloaded. That thing was absolutely delicious and then an uncomfortable heat started growing and growing.
That said, it was a far cry from the pasta - the pasta always managed to cover the entire heat spectrum. So you'd get the immediate lip burning heat, the mid tongue heat, the back of the mouth heat and the sorta heat from this chicken. This was one note heat. Granted, I thought this was delicious and I always thought the pasta was gross so I'll take the trade off, but in terms of being some hellacious dish it certainly didn't replace the pasta. That makes sense though - if the rumors of the pasta's demise being due to legal liability were true, they couldn't replace it with an equally hot (or hotter) dish.
I didn't have either but I heard rave reviews on both the chili and the baby backs from others at my table.
Overall I thought it continued the overall trend of less and less heat as hell nights go on. The only dish I found challenging to deal with was that curry chicken thigh and even then it was only in the backloaded couple of minutes. This is in stark contrast to things even just a couple of years ago where they were quite literally the hottest things I'd ever put in my mouth, and that wasn't even involving the pasta. It started right from the getgo - the pickles they served were noticeably less spicy than even 2 iterations ago.
Went on Monday this week (October 8th), my whole table was very disappointed. The food just wasn't very spicy; a veteran Hell-Nighter that was with me said that it used to be much much hotter. We played "meatball roulette" and couldn't even figure out who got the hot meatball. The waitress said that its tamer this time because "there were too many ambulances"... please!
I went last night and it was my first Hell Night. The atmosphere and high energy from the staff certainly made it a fun night. We sat near the kitchen so I was able to see many of the prepared dishes.
The Wings of Ass Destruction delivered the best heat of the night both from the rub and the sauce.
I enjoyed the mochi with a gochujang sauce which had a sweet/hot thing going on.
I was disappointed with the baby-back ribs entree. No heat at all, they should of been on the wimp menu. They should provide a hotter sauce on the side, maybe vinegar or tomato-based. (For instance Blackstrap BBQ in Winthrop has real killer hot sauces.) Also too much fat to meat and no smoke to speak of. I've had tastier ribs elsewhere. But the ribs were flying out of the kitchen; seemed to me 9 out of 10 entrees were baby-backs.
I'm glad I went but don't think I'll be back since I've experienced what all the hoopla was about.