On Thursday night, I went with one of my favorite people to Stamford's newest restaurant addition: Chinese Mirch. In the interest of full disclosure, they were kind enough to invite me to a preview evening with a free meal, but I'd gladly have paid a pretty penny. The phenomenal and surprising food was served in a space they've transformed into a work of art.
You enter into the bar area where you are flanked by a dramatic red accent wall and a brushed aluminum bar. The modern statement pieces are surrounded by traditional elements, like slated wooden screens and hammered metal light fixtures. The screens give you a peak into the dining room beyond, an equally sophisticated space with sleek red banquette seating and graphic red, green and gold artwork on the walls.
Modern and traditional are not the restaurant's only blends. The menu creates unique combinations of Chinese and Indian cuisine. My favorite dish was an appetizer: Crispy Okra. I have no idea if okra is a common ingredient in either culture, but I couldn't care less. With a slight crunch, a mild spice and no sign of okra ooze, it's a palette pleaser no matter its origin. We enjoyed another appetizer as well: Chicken Lollipops. These were a solid version of the classic served with a choice of duck or garlic sauce. They offered a discrete little bite with a nice amount of kick.
We sampled three main courses: Spicy Black Bean Lamb, Singapore Rice Noodles (vegetarian) and Sweet n Sour Chicken. The lamb was the standout. Served with a savory sauce and green beans, you begin enjoying that dish before it hits the table. It smelled as good as it tasted. The lamb was not too hot or too tough, but tasty and tender. The noodle dish was dressed in a very subtle curry with slivers of vegetables. It wasn't a marquee selection on its own, but a tasty neutral to counterbalance so many other excellent flavors. The chicken dish won the main course beauty contest, served in a half pineapple with a bright red sauce and a complicated, lovely flower vegetable garnish. I have never been a true fan of fruit/meat dishes, preferring savory to sweet, but this would be a strong contender for those of you who like a little sugar in your entree.
I am an unashamed drinker of girly cocktails - and the two I had were pretty good with some pulpy, tropical goodness waiting to inch its way up the straw. My only compliant is that my mojito was presented a heck of a lot like my margarita. I appreciate all kinds of variations on a theme, but I like to notice the difference beyond just rum versus tequila.
For dessert, we had the Warm Chocolate Cake with green tea ice cream. My friend and I did a little wordplay on our end o'meal treat and came up with these: buttery, velvety, creamy and decadent. You often find warm chocolate cake served slightly dry with a volcano of chocolate in the center. This cake was moist through and through, with an extra dose of chocolate gush in the middle. The ice cream was sweeter than you commonly find with green tea ice cream, and it worked well with the rich chocolate contrast.
Co-owner, Sienam Lulla explained some other winning features of the establishment. Chinese Mirch Stamford builds off a successful NYC model, and the owners have taken great pains to ensure consistency. Chefs undergo a one month training to get the flavors just right. The owners have also brought in diners for a blind taste test with the NYC versions of dishes. Their quality controls have resulted in a very tasty product here in Stamford.
You can follow my footsteps starting Monday when they officially open their doors. Chinese Mirch is located at 35 Atlantic Street, formerly home to Galangal. Call 203-969-7000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. You can join them for lunch and dinner now - and in the future - you may also be able to join them for a dim sum brunch and late night menu. Very exciting!