I miss Cool Breeze! I went often for chaat when it was owned by my friends the Nayaks. But now that they’ve sold it, I’d feel like a traitor if I patronized it.
Thank goodness Biryani House is still in the family. I’d always bypassed it for the chaat joint, so last week was the first time I’d had a full meal there since they’d remodeled, changed the service model and expanded the menu. I hate that I’d waited so long.
Lots of people I know love saag paneer, a spinach and cheese dish. I’ve always found the flavor a bit bland and the textures disconcerting — soupy pureed spinach (and whatever else is blended with it) and slightly tough little cubes of paneer. Well, I’m an enthusiast now thanks to Biryani House’s version. The paneer cubes were large and moist and the spinach was thick and bright green — but best of all it had a very nice heat.
Other highlights were a spicy naan with minced green pepper — good and hot — and a mixed tandoori grill that was piled high with two types of fish, shrimp and some meats I didn’t try.
I ate so much at Biryani house (there were two other dishes not pictured) that I didn’t think I’d find my appetite again for awhile. But that didn’t stop me from going to Revolution in Durham the very next night, where I did indeed recover the lost appetite.
The menu offers several multi-course tastings in which the chef prepares whatever he feels like. I couldn’t resist the surprise element, and ordered the three-course “Feed Me” menu. (There are also five- and seven-course options — can you imagine?!)
For me, the high point of the entire meal was the opening salad — arugula (my favorite salad green — I love the pepperiness) dressed with lemon juice and good olive oil, topped with chilled white asparagus shavings (a very trendy menu item these days) and accompanied by a paper-thin ribbon of cured ham. Despite its simplicity, it was cool and slippery and salty and acidic and absolutely delicious.
The entree, while very, very tasty, was heavy and rich and better suited for a fall or winter meal. The crisp-fried mac and cheese ball contained pasta shells and gorgonzola and cream cheeses and was topped with slivers of grana padano. It was accompanied by — yikes! — a veal shank served in a puddle of its own braising liquids. (Yes, I ate one of the two meats to which I’m very morally opposed. But I had to accept the risk inherent with ordering a surprise tasting and certainly didn’t want to insult the chef. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. And thank goodness it was a tiny portion and Donna helped by eating some.)
After dinner we had a cocktail at Whiskey, one of the many high-end, specialty cocktail lounges that seem to be popping up all over the place. Had I realized their mixed drink menu wasn’t online I would have photographed it because I can’t remember everything that was in my cocktail. A very peaty single-malt scotch and a Luxardo cherry is all I can manage. But made with exceeding care and not savored long enough, alas, as we rushed off to the theatre.
I leave you with a humble-looking photo that doesn’t even begin to hint at the scrumptiousness inside the Poppyseed Market’s bread basket: jalapeno-cheddar cornbread with a drizzle of honey on top. I was literally eating the crumbs that were left after we polished off the bread.