If someone told me about a restaurant called Eric's, I'd expect to be walking into a joint that served American style burgers and fries. Or maybe I'd expect a 24/7 diner dishing out tall smoothies and grilled cheese sammies. Or even a pizza joint, with an order 1 large pizza with toppings & get a small cheese pie free plastered to the front door.
Incidentally, someone did tell me about a restaurant called Eric's.
I would never have expected to have walked into a homey little Portugese cottage-looking thing with lacey white curtains and Mario de Miranda cartoon paintings on the wall. I wouldn't have expected food that you'd only find on the shores of the Indian state Goa, famous for its resorts, new year's party scene, and certain substances that will never feature on this blog. And golly, I'd never have expected it to be bang in the middle of Karama.
Thank goodness that there are non-stereotyping souls out there, like @calvinslogic, who care two hoots about my expectations and will tweet the crap out of me until I drag myself to try a restaurant. A restaurant called Eric's.
Over the course of two trips, both in the same week, the second because I left the first time craving for more, here's what I tried...
Rawa prawns. Butterflied and bread-crumbed prawns, squatting in deep fried crispy opulence. My tummy is letting out a string of wistful moans as I search for the right words to describe these prawns. Not a tad of grease, a collosal crunch, totally irresistable when splashed with some green chutney.
[Clockwise] Veggie spring rolls that sadly paled in comparison to the first starter, because once you have a fried prawn in your mouth, even the best of fried carrots and onions ain't ever going to trump it. Outrageously chilli chilli chicken that my parents wiped down to the last deadly seed-speckled spot of Indo-Chinese soy-sauce gravy. One fabulous potato chop that I hunted out on the rather long menu because @calvinslogic had highly recommended it. This little potato volcano of minced curried mutton is exactly the sort of volcano I wish would erupt in times of midnight comfort food cravings. And the most brilliant one of all, the prawn-stuffed papadums that my genius-sister-with-a-past-life-in-Goa ordered for us.
If cigarettes were rolled-up softish papadums with minced prawns stuffed in them, I'd be hopelessly addicted.
Now a quick round-up of dishes for people who aren't gung-ho about fishy eats.
A rich Chicken Xacuti curry that's meant to have this magical coconut-red chilli-poppy seed blend ...but a taste later, it had a blend that-I-don't-know-what-you-are-...-and-I-don't-really-care. Veggie Hakka Noodles from their Chinese menu that by themselves will do nothing for you, but spooned over with one of their Thai curries, get this radical makeover and strut out as Saucey Strings of Savory Seduction.
Why Thai curries at a Goan restaurant? Because at Eric's - and you are right again @calvinslogic - they are lap-it-off-the-plate good. I mean it. I first went at the curry with baby-soft buns (pav), then with noodles, then with my spoon, until I'd had enough and pushed the spoon away disgusted with my gluttonous self...and then with a mind of their own totally in sync with my tummy, my bare fingers sneakily tugged the curry pot back towards me, attacking it all over again, spoon or no spoon, right down to the last floating mushroom and broccoli that had marinated and slow-cooked and softened into curry-oozing mush.
All these curries go perfectly with steamed rice or noodles or pav buns. Or you could order a basket of buttery garlic naan, which doesn't really go with anything. But you should probably order it anyway.
And now, the whoppers that stole the show - the seafood. In order of awesomeness, the Kingfish Curry. The actual pieces of kingfish were a bit too fishy and scaley at the core, I'd probably sub them out with prawns next time. But the gravy was this grainy, salty, maybe mustardy?, outlandishly flavorful combination of spices that keeps you tasting...hmmm-ing...dissecting...guessing...re-tasting...re-hmmm-ing...re-dissecting...yeah, gravies like that one keep me occupied for a loooong time.
The Pomfret Recheiado, with this thick lemony red-chilli-pounded paste glistening like a wet suit all over the fish. Me like recheado paste. Smokey, tangy, earthy - everything I love about chillies, but no tongue-flaming, no nostril-glistening, none of that maddening heat that I'd regret the morning after.
And then, the star of the show, the Bombil Fry. A thin fillet of bombay duck wearing a crunchy gauze of deep-fried semolina. Ironically, this duck is really a fish and not a duck at all. And the experience of eating this fish was...I'd never thought I'd use this word on my blog, but here goes: ephemereal.
Using my teeth would have been overkill. I just had to sit back and feel the duck melt into this unbelievably soft creamy flesh within the semolina, dribbling out the subtlest of spices and lemony juices on my tongue for a few precious seconds, and then gone, the flesh had dissolved and was gone, only a fleeting semolina crunch to remind me that I even had something on my tongue a few seconds before.
I'm bowled over by Eric's. It didn't match any of my expectations. Nope, it just turned all my preconceived Eric's the Burger Joint or Eric's Crusty Pizza notions over on their backs and spanked them to a new and exquisite reality where duck is fish, and fish is butter.
No Surprises, Eric's makes my Best of 2011 List
Karama, Dubai [Drive down with Burjuman, and then Spinneys, on your right. Take a left near the Sukh Sagar, then a U-turn, and then the first right near the West Zone supermarket. Drive down the road, and take a right near the Astor Pharmacy, and then a second left. Eric's would be at the end of the road.]
Phone: +971 (4) 396-4447