April 16, 2010 – Lunch at the Park and Dinner at Anarkali Indian Restaurant

16 Apr

9am

2 strawberry Pop Tarts

1 glass of water

3 pm

The Park

BBQ pulled pork sandwich

side of potato salad

1 bottle of Mexican Coke

I realized that I have never been to The Park in the four months of me writing this blog. That’s an oversight on my part. For the past year and a half, this was my go-to restaurant and I used to go every other week. I’d meet friends here, take dates as well and I’ve attended more than enough friend’s birthday dinners. The restaurant is in my neighborhood, prices are more than reasonable and the food is a bit more sophisticated than what you’d expect for this price point. The menu is simple enough with burgers, steaks and pastas. But the roast chicken is Jidori, the hangar steak is cooked to a perfect temperature and sauced with a technically competent bearnaise sauce, the pork belly is glazed with a caramel sauce made with sriracha and the chef loves accompanying dishes with bitter greens like kale and escarole that he picked up from the farmer’s market. It’s comfort food executed with grace, but with just a bit of rough edges to remind you that this is a modest neighborhood restaurant. But even that ramshackle nature is a bit endearing. If The Park resembled an actress, it’d be Zooey Deschanel.

To keep prices at a modest level, the space is pretty simple and the menu is small. That also means that there are a lot of deals. Tuesdays offers three courses for $15, Friday ups the price just a bit to $20, which is still cheap. Birthday meals are three courses for $25 with custom menus for the party. Wednesdays is $5 burger night, and they offer a formidable sirloin burger or a house-made veggie burger. And lunch offers about six or seven sandwiches for $5 (the side potato salad added another $1 to the bill). I went with the pulled pork today, and it was sizable and satisfying. I don’t know why I stayed away my go-to neighborhood place for so long.

7:30 pm

Anarkali

1 1/2 samosas (1 potato, 1/2 meat)

shared order of chicken tikka masala

shared order of sag aloo (potatoes and spinach)

shared order of bhindi masala (okra)

side of basmati rice

2 pieces of paratha bread

2 pieces of special paratha bread

1 large bottle of Taj Mahal beer

As you can see from the list above, we ate a lot. I love it when friends treat you to dinner and order a crapload of food for everyone. That’s exactly what my friends Frankie and Bobby did, and I have to offer my thanks for their generosity. I’m also thankful that despite the sheer quantity of food, Anarkali was surprisingly easy on my colon. They do like their Indian food a bit milder than I tend to eat, so that helped. The okra was especially good, with none of the sliminess that turns people off the dish. It was also the one dish that had some complexity of spices. The other dishes were a bit too mild for me, with the masala being somewhat sweet. Again, we purposely ordered the dishes on the mild side, so I didn’t get a true sense of this place yet. Anarkali’s one of those neighborhood spots that’s easily overlooked. I’ve driven by it many, many times and never actually been until my friends invited me. It seems that I’m not the only one who’ve missed this place, Anarkali is best known on Yelp for offering a ton of coupons to get people to notice them. Our $80 meal was only $30 after a Groupon deal. For the price, this is a pretty decent place to eat, and I’ll probably take advantage again at some point. If you somehow pay full price at Anarkali, the odds are that you probably aren’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

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