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EATING GOOD
NEIGHBORHOOD DINING IS FINE AT CURRY'S

The editors of Bon Appetit magazine, earlier this year, devoted an entire issue to neighborhood restaurants, giving some requirements for good ones.

"You can eat there as well on a Tuesday night as on a Saturday night," was one stipulation. "You feel welcome whether in jeans or black tie," another.

And then there was the ultimate condition: "There's no drive-through window."

Curry's fits all of the above.

We are talking here about an ordinary-looking place on an ordinary-looking street, with a welcoming ambience. The big bar is key here, and the menu lists just about every standard you've ever heard of: Spaghetti with Meatballs ($6.50), Chicken Francaise ($11.50), Baby Back Ribs (half order, $11.25), Shrimp Scampi ($12.95), and a bewildering array of sandwiches.

There's even a bunch of sandwiches that the restaurant calls "the Dibbles." Dibbles, it turns out, are created by livening up basics such as boneless chicken breast or filet with stuffed banana peppers.

On the weekends, there are special dishes. Like the Sunday we turned up and ordered the Meatloaf Dinner ($8.95), which we found to be ultracomforting. The meat was juicy and tender and tasted like home, and there were mashed potatoes, as well.

If it had been Wednesday, we could have ordered the Turkey Dinner ($7.45), or Prime Rib ($10.50) on Saturday. On Friday, of course, the big deal is Fish Fry for $7.45.

A 10-ounce New York Strip was pleasant enough, though nobody is probably going to write a poem about it. It had full beef flavor and many compensations.

My knife didn't have to work too hard, for one thing -- and neither did my teeth. The accompanying Caesar Salad was fine.

Chicken Chardonnay ($12.25) was a tad more special. White meat served in a cream sauce with plenty of garlic and mushrooms added to it. It went down easily, and the dutchess potatoes didn't hurt, either.

Desserts were nice. Apple Pie with ice cream was good, as well as a chocolate extravaganza.

A characteristic of a great neighborhood restaurant, again according to Bon Appetit, is "when there's no food in your kitchen, you'd rather eat there than order a pizza."

Indeed, yes.

CURRY'S ***

WHERE: 864 Kenmore Ave. (447-0502). The quintessential neighborhood restaurant -- it's homey and comfortable and so is the food. Credit cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa.
FAVORITE DISH: Meatloaf Dinner (a Sunday special)
NEEDS WORK: Food is of good quality.
RICE RANGE: Dinner entrees from around $9 include potatoes and vegetable.
SERVICE: Very good
NOISE LEVEL: Moderate
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday.
HEALTHY CHOICES: Curry's Chicken on Pasta; London Broil
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
PARKING: In the lot
KID APPEAL: Children's menu, $3.75

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