5-Day Birthday Dining Extravaganza (Part 1): Pippali and Covina

Many people complain about another birthday coming along. But that would definitely not be me! I’m totally grateful to have had another one and for Michael and me to still have good health that allows us to celebrate in the style to which we’ve become accustomed. This year, that was a 5-day dining extravaganza (with a show thrown in for good measure). It would be way too much to cover in a single report, so this is the first in what will be a series of posts. Hopefully, you will stick around to read them all.

We arrived in the city Thursday evening around 8:30 p.m., parked the car in the garage in our building (couldn’t find appropriate street parking), put our stuff away, and then went out to dinner. On these evening arrivals, we usually go to a place that’s casual and within walking distance. But before continuing, I must digress…

I’ve come to the point in my life when restaurants’ noise levels are of major importance to me. While delicious food remains a top priority, no matter how delicious it might be, if a restaurant’s noise level is hideously high, there’s no way I’m going there (end of digression).

Our pick on Thursday evening was Pippali, an Indian restaurant located in what is known as “Curry Hill,” the stretch on Lex in the mid- to upper 20’s. We’d been there a couple of times before, so no problems with the noise level. And the food is quite tasty.

The meal began with pappadum and dips. Michael drank Pellegrino; I had a mango lassi.

Here’s what we ate:

Chicken Tikka

Chicken Tikka

Vegetable Fritters

Vegetable Fritters

Adraki Chaampen

Lamb Chops

Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice

Onion Naan

Onion Naan

No dessert because Indian desserts rarely appeal. We took home leftover chicken, fritters, rice, and naan.

*****

Friday’s weather was rainy and raw. Since we were going upscale for dinner, we wanted someplace very casual for lunch — and close by. We chose Covina, which opened on 27th St., off Lex, at the beginning of this year. (It’s right next door to Pippali and across the street from I Trulli and Blue Smoke.) We’d had dinner there twice. While the food was very good, I found the noise level a bit too uncomfortable and seating rather cramped. But I wasn’t ready to totally give up on it and here’s why. They were going to eventually add lunch service. And what I’ve often found is that restaurants that are extremely noisy in the evening can be much quieter during lunch. So, I kept checking Covina’s website and discovered that morning that they had begun serving lunch. When we arrived around 1:30 p.m., there was just one other table occupied. Even with music playing — happily, at a modest level – it was quite peaceful.

To start, we chose from the “share” section of the menu.

Covina Hummus

Covina Hummus

Warm Sprouted Chickpeas, Lebanese Olive Oil, Cumin, Seasonal Crudité, Pita

The hummus was superb, the veggies were nice and crunch, and the pita was tasty albeit a bit too charred in spots.

Next, we shared this:

Wood Grilled Covina Burger

Wood Grilled Covina Burger

Wagyu and Ground Chuck Red Onion, American Cheese, Dashi Pickles, Special Sauce, and Fries

We always share sizable burgers. This one was excellent. Cooked exactly to our medium-rare specification, it was very flavorful and juicy. Great pickles and tasty sauce. The fries were crispy perfect.

I didn’t really want dessert, but Michael wanted sorbet, so I helped him out.

Vanilla Pear Sorbet

Vanilla Pear Sorbet

*****

Around 5 p.m., we took the car out of the garage as we always do on Fridays because there is free street parking near our apartment on weekends. But now, here’s the thing. The Jewish holidays of Schemini Azeret and Simchat Torah took place on Monday and Tuesday which meant alternate side parking rules were suspended for those two days. So, if we could find an alternate side space, we would have free parking until we returned to New Jersey Tuesday evening. Luckily, we found one! A very nice birthday present from the parking gods!

Time to get ready to go out to dinner. Where did we go? Stay tuned for the next installment to find out!

To see the full photo set of Pippali, click here.
To see the full photo set of Covina, click here.

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