Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Royal Masala

After Mrs. HFG and I got home from Harry Potter, we did a few errands and chores and then started to think about where we wanted to go for dinner. It was hot, which made Indian food a good choice. We both wanted to have a couple of beers, so that meant the place had to be close by. That all added up to a trip to Masala at the corner of Main and Capitol.

Masala is now in its third iteration (it’s actually now Royal Masala). Masala 1.0 had absolutely amazing food and was reasonably priced. The service, however, was terrible. By terrible I mean quite possibly the worst service of any restaurant at which Mrs. HFG or I have ever eaten. As good as the food was (and it was really good) my wife and I finally had to stop going there.

Masala 2.0 was a bit cheaper and had pretty good service. The food, however, was mediocre and Mrs. HFG and I only went a couple of times before we concluded it just wasn’t worth it.

Thankfully, Masala 3.0 has the same reasonable prices as its predecessors, food that comes very close to Masala 1.0, and service better than Masala 2.0.

To start, we ordered the vegetarian samosa chat, which is Masala’s take on the classic Indian street food. The chats themselves were perfectly fine, but the array of dips and condiments was very nice indeed (chick peas, onions, tomato, yogurt, and tamarind). The onions seemed very freshly cut and the tamarind was delicious.

My wife had the luckhawi goat curry, which is a house special. It was very good. The flavor was good but most importantly, the goat was nice and tender. That's not easy to do.

I had the lamb vindaloo, which is lamb with cumin, hot chills and malt vinegar. It was quite delicious with a nice blend of spiciness and tartness that really worked well.

We also had an order of garlic nan. The portion was quite generous and good.

We also each had three Kingfishers (if you don’t know what a Kingfisher is, look it up).

Total tab, including a good tip for good service (prompt and friendly, but not overbearing), $114; a very fair price.

Our only complaint was the heat of the food. Our server asked us how spicy we wanted it and we said “medium” which she must have interpreted as “medium for Anglos who aren’t used to Indian food.” Last night, however, my wife met some folks at Masala for dinner and ordered her food “spicy.” She brought some home for me to try and we both agreed it was wonderful.

The interior of Masala is interesting, because there is a ton of exposed brick and hardwood floors. While that doesn’t exactly fit with an Indian motif, it is a very nice space. There is also a comfortable back room with a bar.

I am very happy Mrs. HFG went to Masala 3.0. We had a great meal for a very fair price. It was the perfect way to end a fun (and delicious) Saturday and we now have Masala back in our lives.

Here’s a link to Masala’s website, there isn’t much there, but trust me, this place is good –

Bolo Bakery & Cafe

On Saturday, Mrs. HFG and I decided to go see the last Harry Potter movie. Not wanting to stand in line with a bunch of screechy teens (or the sketchy adults that follow screechy teens around :<) we decided to catch the 10 AM screening out in Plainville.

Knowing that I knew a trip to the movies on Saturday AM would probably mean no delicious pancakes, my wife quickly suggested we try Bolo Bakery & Café in Plainville, which she said had gotten some good internet reviews. When I hesitated, Mrs. HFG correctly sensed I was still trying to figure out a way to get her to make pancakes before we left so she quickly added “I think the people that own it are Portuguese.”

Bolo (which has several food-related meanings in Portuguese) is, in fact, owned by Portuguese immigrants Antonio (pictured at left) and Isabel Abrantes. After years of work and saving, the Abrantes opened a bakery in Parkville (then still the center of the region’s Portuguese community) in 1984 which grew and – with the help of the Abrantes’ son - ultimately morphed into Bolo.

Like its name says, Bolo is both a bakery, offering the full range of pastries and breads, as well as some fabulous-looking wedding cakes, and a café, offering breakfast and lunch.

For breakfast I decided to have the chorizo, cheddar scramble ($6), which consisted of 3 eggs, cheddar cheese, and a generous amount of chorizo sausage. This is a classic Portuguese-American dish (every diner in New Bedford and Fall River has some variation of this on the menu) and Bolo’s take was exactly what I wanted, with good quality sausage and cheese and eggs that were scrambled just right.

The dish comes with toast and either homefries or fruit. I opted for the fruit and in lieu of toast I decided to try 2 pieces of French toast, which were absolutely delicious. In fact, they reminded me very much of rich French toast my mother makes.
I also had a nice cup of coffee and some OJ.

Mrs. HFG opted for a cup of coffee and an omelet (3 eggs) with goat cheese, onions, and spinach ($5.50 - $.50 more than the menu price because of the extra filling). As with my eggs, Mrs. HFG’s were perfectly prepared and the fillings were all fresh and delicious.

The service was friendly and prompt, which is exactly what you want in a breakfast place and exactly what I expect from hardworking Portuguese-Americans. In fact, one of the waitresses looked like so much like my goddaughter’s younger sister that Mrs. HFG teased “honey, these girls look just like you. These are your people!”

Obviously, Bolo isn’t fine dining and it isn’t even a Portuguese restaurant, despite its provenance and the good number of Portuguese inspired menu selections. Rather, it’s a great little breakfast spot with a bakery attached to it. Like I said earlier, although I didn’t sample any of the pastry, it looked great. Still I’ll let you know for sure when I eat my way through it some other time! :p

Here’s a link to Bolo’s website -

Monday, July 11, 2011

Scott’s Jamaican Bakery

The HFG has been out of commission lately with Mrs. HFG’s recovery (she is doing very well thank you for asking), work, and some HFG family issues. Also, I’ll be candid, someone said some very unkind things about the HFG and his reviews which really struck a nerve. :< x 25.

That said, if I can’t stand the heat I ought to get out of the kitchen. Since, however, I love kitchens (OK, I love what comes out of kitchens), and keeping in mind my vast legion of fans and my ever growing army of loyal followers, that isn’t going to happen. :p x 25. So I’m back.

This past Saturday Mrs. HFG and I took a drive up North Main Street to Scott’s Jamaican Bakery, which is a pillar of both the North End as well as Hartford’s small business community. So much so that Scott’s operates three locations (North Main Street, Albany Avenue and Blue Hills Avenue), as well as a wholesale and production operation on Windsor Street. Scott’s, in fact, has been around for over 30 years and pretty much anyone you talk to with strong roots in the West Indian community, or in the North End, Windsor, or Bloomfield will tell you that the Scott family is highly respected and its support and opinion is regularly sought on a wide range of political, business, and community issues.

My wife and I decided that we would order enough for lunch and dinner, so we opted for 2 orders of coco bread ($2.75 each), 2 beef patties ($1.55 each), 2 chicken patties ($1.55 each) and a large order of curried goat ($9.60). For about $20 it’s hard, if not impossible, to come up with 2 better meals.

Coco bread is just that, bread made some coconut milk. It is heavy and sweet, with a very nice taste. In fact, the taste reminded me and Mrs. HFG of the bread you get at Shish Kebab House of Afghanistan, though coco bread is somewhat sweeter and much heavier. It is also delicious and a perfect compliment to spicy food.

Speaking of spicy food, all of the patties were outstanding. They come in pastry, which was not too heavy and the flavor of the patties was excellent and the texture just right. Both Mrs. HFG and I favored the chicken patties over the beef, but both were very good.

Curried goat is not something you will find at most restaurants, so it was almost a must. The HFG has had goat before at and Ethiopian restaurant whose name escapes me (not the Abyssinian in Hartford) and I liked well enough, though I can’t say I was thrilled at the prospect of having it again. Mrs. HFG, however, is actually a big fan of goat, having had a belly full of it while she was stationed in Bosnia serving in the U.S. Army (yes, Mrs. HFG not only can whip up a great meal, she can also blow you away with a .50 cal machinegun).

Goat has a good taste, like venison, but it is somewhat gamy, which isn’t always a good thing. Fortunately, any of the gamy downside was washed away by the delicious curry. I wouldn’t say that the curry at Scott’s is the best I’ve ever had, but it was perfectly good. The curried goat also came with a generous portion of rice and beans, as well as what appeared to be a type of slaw, both of which helped offset the heat and spiciness of the curried goat.

On the whole, it was two delicious and very, very reasonably priced meals.

I haven’t been to the Scott’s on Albany or Blue Hills Avenue, but the one on North Main Street is a down and dirty, no bullsh*t affair. You walk in, you order, you get your order, you pay and you leave. Maybe you take a copy of a community newspaper or a flyer with you. That’s it. There isn’t any cheery décor, or any cleverly-named menu items, or even any perky over-educated under-achieving help with earrings in strange places that can tell you where the wheat they use was grown. It’s just a bunch of hardworking and very nice people pushing out order after order of delicious food and baked goods.

There is a large Jamaican population in this area, so there are other places you can go, but they aren’t going to be better than Scott’s. Try it, you won’t be sorry.

Here’s the link to their website -