Thursday, May 5, 2011

Do YOU Have Alcohol?

Crispy Cumin Lamb Filets – Szechuan Gourmet
Szechuan Gourmet

The week was not going well.  And our solution to bad weeks is to drink cocktails and make light of life’s problems.

This is the reason Ginger Orchid called Szechuan Gourmet at 11:00am on a Wednesday to inquire about their booze selection.

Assured that they have “wine,” (they also have beer, but we hate beer more than Vodka Stinger hates Cheesecake Lollipop trees), we venture into the depths of midtown that evening for Frank Bruni’s Best Thing I Ever Ate dish to eat WITH CHOPSTICKS: Crispy Cumin Lamb Filets.  Now the best thing Vodka Stinger has ever eaten with chopsticks was cold, leftover pasta when all of her forks were in the dishwasher (it was a particularly fat night), but she’s willing to give the lamb filets a try.

However, we encounter a big issue: Szechuan Gourmet does not serve wine.  They serve RICE wine.  Which is nothing like real wine whatsoever.
The Only Glass of Wine We Haven't Finished
We discover this wine misnomer when we ask our waiter if we can sample the rice wine before ordering full glasses. He hauls out a jug (a certifiable jug) that is mildly sticky and slimy at the same time, and he pours us a sample.  Upon taking a sip, it takes all our strength we have not to gag.

We’re sure rice wine is an acquired taste, and one that we have not yet acquired.  The best way to describe it is that it tastes like a hardcore, rustic Polish vodka that Vodka Stinger was once served against her will.  Just remember that if you see rice wine on the menu, you will not be getting white zinfandel.
What Kind of Booze Selection Can You Expect from a Place with Half a Sign?
Settling for a sober meal (the horror), we order scallion pancakes and the crispy cumin lamb filets.  (Meanwhile, the girl who has taken up residence at the table next to us has ordered at least half of the menu, and she is slurping it with an intensity that is even more gag-worthy than the rice wine).  The scallion pancakes are delicious, particularly after Ginger dumps half a canister of soy sauce on them.  Already greasy, they now look like something that has been left out in the rain a few too many times.  Thankfully, their aesthetics do not impact their taste.
We Love Us Some Grease
The crispy cumin lamb filets are… interesting.  They’re not that crispy, and they’re much more (pardon our French) turd-like than those served to Frank Bruni on Best Thing I Ever Ate.  Both of us are fans of cumin, so that’s not the problem – in fact, there is no real problem with them, besides the fact that they are not quite as good as we had been expecting.

And the lack of booze didn’t help wash them down.
Not All That Crispy But Very Cuminy
Finishing our meal as quickly as possible in order to get away from our slurping neighbor and thirsty throats, we head outside to 39th Street in search of a bar.  Any bar will do.  We’re willing to return to our Times Square roots if necessary, but that seems so far and we are so sober.  Peering in the windows of the restaurants right next to Szechuan Gourmet, Ginger Orchid starts calling out desperately, “Do YOU have alcohol?”  Finally (after a whole 20 feet), we settle for a place across the street and pull ourselves up to the bar.  As they are without specialty cocktails, we order our old standard cosmopolitan, and we toast the night away.
Hello Old Friend
By the end of the night, we had each spent $12 on food and $47 on drinks.  Just the way we like it.

Szechuan Gourmet’s Crispy Cumin Lamb Filets: 3 stars

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