A buddy of mine who works at East Coast Grill had been hounding me for months to give Hell Night a try at ECG. He knew about my weakness for hotter-than-hades peppers and the like, and encouraged me to get a reservation. Hell Night is basically a niche-market promotion/party/sweatfest that encourages diners to eat some really, really spicy food.
About a week ago, he mentioned to me that a couple early tables were still available for this go-round and I decided to give it a shot. After checking out some reviews of the hell pasta and insane drinks (one guy passed out on the way to the bathroom after taking a nuclear tequila shot — scotch bonnet peppers left in a vat of jose cuervo for a week), we decided that proper attire would be in order.
Decked out in sweatbands, we made our way out to Cambridge. We arrived
early (reso at 5:30), and there was already a line forming outside.
The entire restaurant was decked out in hell-o-ween festiveness, topped
off by voodoo-santa.
In order to both maintain our budget and sample as much food as possible, we decided to order every single appetizer.
Scortching Crispy Sparerib with Molten Guava Lava BBQ Sauce (5 Bombs) These were awesome — one of the highlights of the night. Really, really excellent beef ribs.
Hokkien Fried Noodles with Shrimp, Duck & Sambal Kancang (2 Bombs) Not enough flavor to stand out from the other dishes — I would probably enjoy this by itself, however.
Folsom Prison Chili "Ring of Fire" Style (7 Bombs) Really great chili — big chunks of beef, helluva kick.
Acar’s Carnitas Tacos with Jalapeno Sour Cream, House Guacamole and Rippin’ Hot Rojo Salsa (4 Bombs) — Spicy, meaty, delicious. If Anna’s carnitas could hold a flame to these, I’d be happy.
Mussels Mozambique with Piri Piri (3 Bombs) — Second besh dish after the ribs. These were the biggest, plumpest, most delicious mussels I have ever had. Would return for just these.
Sizzlin’ Shrimp & Scallop Ceviche with Mango, Avocado, Chipotle-Lime Dressing & Damn Good Tostones (2 Bombs) Delicious and refreshing, but hard to taste with so much other spice going on. And the tostones were in fact damn good; so damn good that I forgot to take a picture.
The Jamaican Connection, with 1/2 Dozen Hell Oysters with a Scotch Bonnet Sausage Link — Very fresh, very tasty oysters. Wasn’t as hellish as I might have liked, but still very good. No pic of the sausage, which was slightly overcooked but deliciously meatalicious.
Baked Stuff Crab Diablo, with Lump Crab, Corn & Avocado with Puya Mayo & Yuca Chips (4 Bombs) Lots and lots of crab, served in a crab shell. I would have preferred something other than the yucca chips, but that’s just me. Again, forgot to take a picture, and I’m pretty sure it had to do with the fact that the next dish kicked me square in the face.
The Infamous Pasta from HELL, with Sausage Bolognese (You Must Sign The Release Form!) (9 Bombs) Now, this pasta is where things started to get serious. It was the last thing we recieved, and immediately I could tell it was in a whole different ballpark. You can see the slices of peppers just sitting on top (what I believe are either scotch bonnets or habaneros….or some crazy south american superpepper), and the entire sauce was little more than chili paste and meat. What made this dish so difficult for me to eat was the fact that the pasta was slightly underdone, meaning I really had to chew each bite.
I can honestly say I have never had anything spicier than that pasta. It made my face flush, my nose run, my voice quiver and my spirit shake. Seriously — finishing that bowl not only took willpower, but a tolerance for pain and hellfire. My tablemates took a few bites and wallowed in agony while I plodded on, deaf to their cries for me to stop.
Ike Sway was hurtin.
Chris Schlesinger (the chef/owner) came by a few times during the night, and awarded me with a Hell Night t-shirt for conquering the pasta. It was worth it.
In all, I’d say that Hell Night is awesome. The food was, on the whole, delicious. I would absolutely return to Hell Night, and would definately return to East Coast Grill. While I might not ever order the hell pasta again (except for serious wagers), everything else succeeded mightily. Thank you Chris for such a wonderful (and Boston-unique) event!