Monday, September 5, 2011

Jay's Diner

We set out for a full 9-5 day of back-to-school shopping and preparatory madness this morning and decided that we'd kick it off with breakfast out.  We knew Jay's Diner would be open because, let's be honest, when is it ever closed, and it was clear from the parking lot and the packed booths that everyone else in ROC had the same thought.

We love Jay's!  It is steeped in an aesthetic that might best be described as Miami Vice meets the Oriental Trading Catalog, and it offers great diner fare at reasonable prices pretty darn close to 24/7/365.

My son announced his intention to order chocolate chip pancakes the minute we hit the door, so that was easy.  He ripped into them with great zeal, leaving only the non-chocochipped border zone on his plate.  My daughter's idea of breakfast is increasingly yellow rice, cold pizza, caesar salad, or soup (no kidding!), so she was harder to pin down.  She first ordered coffee cake (nope), then added bacon (which her father and brother ate), then was convinced to order Canadian bacon.  This, she ate and pronounced her favorite new food.  Success!  Both children also ordered the massively whipped cream topped hot chocolates, which barely made it through the meal.

I am a Jay's Platter Special-girl all the way: always with French toast and eggs over-easy.  This place has fantastic French toast, light yet firm!  I swap out bacon with sausage every once in a while, but this was a bacon morning.  Two pieces of French toast, two eggs, two pieces of bacon, a crazy bargain at $5.29.

My husband had eggs benedict with nicely crisped home fries, yum!  He saved room for the aforementioned bacon left by his daughter, pancake scraps left by his son, and one bite of the piece of French toast left by his wife (I was showing remarkable restraint).

Add in an orange juice and two bottomless cups of Jay's surprisingly good and strong coffee, and we walked out for about $34 plus tip.  If you're not accompanied by an a la carte princess (see above), you can definitely get out a lot more cheaply.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thali of India

My husband and I have gone to Thali for the all you can eat buffet at lunch, which is super yummy, but tonight was our first time for dinner.  We met up as a family there because my daughter won a $50 gift certificate for Thali after I put her in charge of our raffle tickets at the Women Helping Girls auction while I emceed.  She put a great number of tickets in the box for an Indian-themed gift basket because she knows how much her father loves Indian food; I know, she's pretty awesome!

So, we had a lot of gift certificate to burn through, a delicious task.

My daughter started with chicken soup, which had a wonderfully warm spiciness to it with a slightly limey-tomato base with cilantro, onions, and good sized chunks of chicken.  She had the chicken tikka masala (mild).  Theirs is less tomato-y and slightly more creamy than I've had elsewhere, maybe a bit more like butter chicken.  Filled with chicken and lots of onions and green peppers; again, a really warm, spicy sweet taste.

My son had the longstanding Indian delicacy chicken tenders and fries.  He is not a fan of this cuisine, outside of garlic naan, which he could eat all day--as can his sister.  Thali's naan was a bit hit; we had 2 orders.

My husband ordered the tandoori mixed grill with chicken and lamb and more chicken subbed for shrimp (blech!).  It was a lot of food:  traditional tandoor chicken legs and a few yogurt marinated kabobs in chicken and lamb, all paired with onions and green peppers.  And, it came with a side of chicken curry.  He requested medium, but it seemed to be mild.  The curry was a bit sweet for me, though that didn't stop it from disappearing from his plate.

I wanted to add a vegetable dish to the table, so I went with eggplant bhartha (medium)--a smoky eggplant mixed with grilled onions and tomatoes spiked with bright green peas.  It had a dense, rich curry flavor.  I'd never had it before and loved it, as did my husband.   It really packed a kick, so the heat had several layers.  Nice!

As always, I ordered raita.  Thali's is a bit thinner than I like my raita, but it was tasty.

So, an appetizer, three major entrees, a kiddie meal, two orders of naan, and a side of raita--plus a chai and a soft drink--and we left for about $55.  Or, as my daughter noted, dinner "cost" us $5 plus tip.  We walked away with a mini-Indian feast of leftovers for my husband's lunch, too.

The verdict:  "we need to come back for dinner more often," my daughter!