Wednesday, July 21, 2010

With Arms Wide Open: Zaroka

Mendez entered the restaurant still clad in his battle armor. One way streets, dastardly parking meters everywhere, school buses and cyclists; he battled with the traffic of New Haven. He lifted the beaver of his helmet up to see Hans waving at him from a small table in the dining room. A buffet in the corner and a blogger's welcoming arms are always sights for sore and squinting eyes.

From the outside Zaroka doesn't look like much. As a matter of fact it is the outside appearance that has kept the bloggers from reviewing it thus far. A large sign on a small restaurant front looks disproportionate and offsetting. The rest of its company on York Street isn't too hot either; a large parking garage and a strange, never occupied Chinese food hut (on our visit census workers asked the wait staff at Zaroka who owned the property in which the Chinese restaurant resides and if it were even open; they were not).

On this hot July day Zaroka's air conditioning would have been enough for Ghandi to forget about independence for a minute or two. For some reason there were five servers standing around playing a game of jacks during this slow season of New Haven restaurant dining. The bloggers went to the buffet which is more compact than the one offered at Tandoor. The colors of mash didn't run into each other on the plate. In fact their was more food in this buffet than the sauce loaded one offered at Tandoor. But let us not compare apples and oranges. We're saying that if you want to get more lentils and chickpeas in your dish try Zaroka. That is all.

The dining room's calm color scheme complemented the mild food. There are no real stand outs but the Aloo Gobi and its homemade cheese comes close. The cauliflower is tasty and the Naan is put to good use scooping to clean the plate afterward. The naan is on the drier side of the bread scale: heat lamps don't help the essence of Naan to shine, but they will keep reptile pets healthy and comfortable.

The oddball, in Hans' opinion, is the Tandoori Chicken. Its a lava red ball, one you avoided in the past when playing Mario. Too dry and tasteless, we suggest the Mixed Paroka. It too is lava red in color, but unlike its vegan-unfriendly counterpart is a ball of mashed, fried vegetables. It looks like a sea urchin but is more flavorful.

As the bloggers ate Mendez's mood changes. He replaced his breast plate and sword with a full belly and a smile. Leaving, the two bloggers poked their heads in the upstairs dining room. One of the waitstaff lay on the ground. "This room is closed," another said. Hans was taken back to his childhood. He once owned the whole set of Disney's Aladdin toys and this dining room was strikingly similar to the dollhouse. The next time Hans and Mendez visit Zaroka they will certainly dine in this secluded upper level. They were informed that on top of this dining room was another smaller dining room with a seating capacity of about a dozen. In fear of interrupting more server's sleep they decided not to visit it, instead vowing to visit next time.


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