Fine dining restaurants are where you celebrate annual landmarks, with pampering appropriate for anniversaries, birthdays and other events that mark a new year. Family restaurants are where you celebrate that you’ve survived another day.
A month ago, when I visited Curry’s for the first time, its small parking lot was shrunk even further by snow piles the size of minor Alps. Yet when we entered, the place was mostly full, with walk-ins, bundled against the cold. Curry’s homestyle cooking makes the restaurant an extension of the neighbors’ kitchens, so a little snow wasn’t going to stop them.
Curry’s has been across from St. Joe’s on Kenmore Avenue for about 20 years. Shannon Rhonemus started working there a decade ago, and bought the place in 2012. This is not a place that changes its menu seasonally, unless you count St. Paddy’s Day as a season.
The weekly specials are etched in Formica: Monday is meatloaf, Tuesday is chicken a la king, Wednesday is turkey dinner, straight-up Thanksgiving style with meat sliced from whole roast turkeys roasted on site, housemade stuffing and mashed potatoes, the works.
Fridays are fish, but Curry’s has enough demand for its fish fry that it’s offered all week. You can get it breaded or broiled, but the beer-battered version ($10.95) with coleslaw, macaroni salad and fries, is what we ordered.
Since it wasn’t Wednesday, the turkey dinner wasn’t available so we opted for the turkey Dibble ($11.95), a big sandwich of the same turkey on a garlic-buttered roll, topped with a Buffalo-style cheese-stuffed pepper.
Curry’s has a whole range of Dibbles, originally named after a customer who liked Curry’s peppers. The Dibble has now morphed into an arena of no-holds-barred sandwich customization, including bacon, blue cheese and artichoke hearts. We took a meatball Dibble to go ($12.95).
We also ordered the beef pot roast special ($13.50). Entrees come with vegetable, choice of potato, and soup of the day or salad, garden or Caesar, plus Cajun wings, finished on the grill ($10), and a Greek salad without meat ($6.75).
A basket of warm kaiser rolls and rye bread, with butter, started things off.
Artichoke hearts served scampi style ($9) had six whole canned artichoke hearts swimming in a bowl of lemony, creamy sauce. It was a simple dish, but I am a simple man, and I had to push the bread away so I wouldn’t ruin my meal sopping up the sauce.
The Cajun wings were well-executed, crispy, dry-skinned and dusted with powdered spice, with a touch of charcoal flavor from the grill, and fresh carrots and celery. Piquant but not hazardous heat, and a lot less messy than classic Buffalo style.
The Greek salad was loaded with domestic feta, chopped tomatoes and red onion, pepperoncini, and lots of sliced California olives. It also bore four thick pita bread wedges, making it almost enough for a vegetarian entree. (But after pasta and sauce, vegetarian pickings were thin.) We poured on dressing that came on the side, and polished it off.
The fish fry was terrific. The beer-batter coating was thinner than some, still crunchy when we got it, but softened before we finished. The coleslaw was decently fresh and crunchy in its thin, not-too-sweet mayonnaise dressing. The fries were average, and I added salt to mine. The macaroni salad was a good version, with firm elbow pasta and a dusting of peppery spice allowing it to escape blandness.
Cream of chicken soup was preternaturally creamy, most of the way down the slippery slope to cheese dip. That is not a complaint, since the bowl hid substantial chunks of tender chicken and peas in its velvety depths. It just meant I suddenly had a hankering for warm tortilla chips. “This is hardcore comfort food,” said Cat.
So was her turkey Dibble, even though the spiciness of the stuffed pepper pushed the definition of “comfort.” There was plenty of moist white-meat turkey and melted cheese, plus grated cheese atop the grilled roll. It was a hearty sandwich, and the leftover turkey was still moist the next day.
The meatball Dibble was satisfying, too, with tender meatballs, a not-too-hot pepper and tomato sauce bolstered with green pepper on the side. The only downside was that it was really too big to pick up and eat out of hand. Others would call that a virtue.
The pot roast plate boasted plenty of fork-tender beef and baby carrots, plus more of those homey mashed potatoes. The glossy brown gravy reminded me of packet versions. It was still a satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs plate.
Housemade pies weren’t on offer our night, but they are other times. We had three small cannoli ($4.95) with crisp shells and standard sweetened ricotta filling, and a tangy lemon cake ($5.50) with a tart filling that evoked lemonade mix.
Curry’s is an able practitioner of homestyle American classics, with Buffalo flair. Nothing fancy, just good food at a good price – and a good place to call it a day.
Curry’s Restaurant and Pub - 7 plates (out of 10)
Time-tested family favorites bring the neighbors back to Curry’s.
WHERE: 864 Kenmore Ave. (447-0502, curryspub.com)
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
PRICE RANGE: Appetizers, salads $3.50-$13; sandwiches, $7.50-$18.50, entrees, $8.95-$23.
PARKING: Lot, street.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes.