Arriving at our last spot to visit for the Curry Challenge, we were a bit nervous. According to many of the online reviews of the place, it all pointed to a mediocre experience. But then again, it is always better to judge for ourselves rather than letting others do it for us. So Whipping Girl and I went in with an open mind and apparently pretty empty stomachs because we went a bit overboard with the menu. Maybe we could give Mijune a run for her money... Nah, no one can out eat here...
Things started off quite nicely with the Cauliflower Poppers served with garlic aioli and red pepper hummus. In manageable-sized nuggets, the poppers were lightly crispy on the outside while tender and not too soft on the inside. These were dusted with some spice to finish. We found the garlic aioli a near-perfect match as it added aromatics and saltiness to the mildly-spiced cauliflower. As for the hummus, it was too flat-tasting and thick for the poppers. Next up, we had the sweet and spicy Ngong Wings with tangy lemon poppy dip and fresh cilantro garnish. These were fried first and then finished off on the grill. Hence, they were both crispy and exhibited a smoky char. They were on the drier side, but for this application, it enabled the wings to have a more concentrated flavour. We found them more sweet than spicy though. Despite not sounding like a match, the dip went well with the wings providing a cooling effect.
With another round of appies, we tried 2 of the hand-rolled Serious Meatballs made with veal and beef meatballs accompanied by fresh tomato sauce, sauteed spinach and Parmesan. Texturally, we found the meatballs to be meaty, dense and slightly chewy. Although we prefer less-processed meat, this could've used a touch more. As for the sauce, it was tart, bright and acidic with noticeable chunks of garlic. Whenever we have Whipping Girl, we also have to order her favourite - Mussels. These were 1 lb of steamed Chilean Blue mussels in classic French white wine and garlic butter. We found the white wine to be present while completely cooked down. A bit salty, the broth did feature a good amount of garlic and onion. Sadly, the mussels themselves were overcooked being dry and chewy.
Off to the Curry Challenge dish, we sampled the being the Moroccan Braised Lamb Shank in a light tomato-based sauce consisting of a house made blend of ginger, garlic, cumin, jalapenos, cinnamon, a mix of smoked paprikas and spices. This was served atop pomegranate dirty rice. The flavour profile was quite mild, yet when I took a big scoop of the veggies along with a piece of lamb, there was a good amount of tartness with a background spice. The lamb itself was moist throughout, including the exterior. For our other entree, we decided on the Flank & Frites comprised of house marinated (24 hour) 8 oz flank steak, arugula salad and house cut Kennebec fries. From the very first bite, it was clear that the marinade had penetrated completely. Hence, the steak was very flavourful bordering on salty. In fact, it had a beef jerky kind of taste to it. Prepared medium-rare, it was sufficiently tender for a flank steak. As for the frites, they were not bad but could've been even more crispy.
For dessert, we shared the Chocolate Mousse served in a jar. We thought the mousse was not aggressively sweet, which was to our liking. Also, it was plenty chocolatey and creamy. The one problem was its viscosity - it could've passed for an ice cream. Other than that, it was fine. And that pretty much summed up the dishes we had at Abode, they were fine. Sure, there were some execution issues, but definitely not worthy of a 54% rating.
*2 main dishes were comped*
- Portion sizes are decent
- Fair pricing for dinner in Downtown
- Some execution issues