Wednesday, April 16, 2014


My visit to Curly's last week wasn't just for dinner.  My girlfriend, Ellen, is getting married later this year and she was pumped to check out Curly's as an option for her reception.  The rooms were nice, the meal options sounded delicious and the dance floor was real hard wood (perfect for the breakdancing I'll be busting out at the wedding).  But, when you're planning a special event, you seriously can't beat that feeling of clicking with the banquet manager.  

We met with Scott who was knowledgeable, patient, friendly and flexible.  Even if Ellen didn't already have a little love for Lackawanna (where she lived in her first apartment), and a lotta love for Curly's food, meeting with Scott sealed the deal and made us all feel like she would be in great hands.  She's going to have an amazing wedding!

Now let's eat dinner.

We started with appetizers.  We ordered the conch fritters and the Caribbean jerk wings.

The fritters were fried to a crispy golden brown on the outside and the dough was soft and fluffy on the inside.  They had a touch of that seafood flavor and a touch of spice.  They were served with a fruit salsa which made each bite a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy.  I would have liked a squirt of lemon on the salsa, but I think all fruit salsas should have a little more acidity.  I just like lemon.

The wing and thigh meat on the chicken wings was very tender and, to someone who orders everything mild, the jerk seasoning was pret-ty spicy!  Some of the wings were more heavily grilled and others had very little crispiness to them.  That variety was good for our table of four people with different preferences; I like that crispy skin.

In a past life, Curly's was a male-dominated, smoke-filled, bourbon-soaked saloon.

At least that's how I imagined it when our waiter told us it used to be a tavern frequented by the local steelworkers.  You can still find small buttons that look like doorbells on the walls behind each table which were used to buzz a waitress over back in the saloon days.

We, of course, thought it would be funny to push the button but it turns out the wait staff has even more fun with it than we did.  When we pushed it, our waiter gave a big jump and hurried over to the table.  For a second we were fooled into thinking we had buzzed him.  In reality the buttons don't do anything anymore... but when you visit, it doesn't hurt to try.  

Curly's soups du jour this night were potato-bacon chowder and their traditional black bean which we were told has been on the menu since they first opened.  All four of us got the black bean.

My love of soup started when I was working at the Hideaway Grille in NT.  Their soup is so outstanding, I'm not kidding that I'm sitting here trying to think of a favorite and I can't because they are all so good.  Hideaway's was the first black bean soup I ever had and theirs is thick, really thick, almost like a chip dip.  It's chock full of beans and served with sour cream, diced onion and a tortilla chip.  So good.

Curly's black bean was not as thick as Hideaway's but that didn't take away from the flavor.  That meaty beany goodness was still there.  Theirs was also served with sour cream and big pieces of chopped onion.

There's not a single thing that wasn't outstanding about our entrees.

My red snapper came served over a bed of mussels with a crusty slice of bread on top to sop up all that flavorful seafood broth.  The fish was simple, moist, flaky and absolutely delicious.

The rest of the table got the ricotta gnocchi in a broth with mushrooms.  I was lucky enough to be given a bite, and it was also so good.  I love when all the components in a dish can be piled onto your spoon to create an amazing bite of flavor and texture and that was the case with this.  I can't make any comparative statements about the gnocchi because I've never had a ricotta gnocchi before.  It was definitely heavier than the potato variety, but in a melt on your tongue kind of way.

To celebrate her engagement, Ellen was brought over a complimentary peanut butter pie... with three extra forks so we could celebrate too.  Cheers!



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