Highlights from recent reviews by The Day's food critics

The spacious new interior of Olive Oyl’s (Marisa Nadolny/Special to The Day)
The spacious new interior of Olive Oyl’s (Marisa Nadolny/Special to The Day)

Adrak 2

12 Canal St., Westerly

(401) 315-0843

www.adrakri.com

I have a new favorite spot to head out to in Westerly on Friday nights when the dishes in the sink are sky high and cooking anything other than a bagel in the toaster is outside the realm of possibility: Adrak 2, a new Indian restaurant on Canal Street that made its debut just this past November.

There are many wonderful dishes worth trying here, but a few have become my go-to appetizers and main courses. For starters, there's the vegetable samosa app, which comes with two plump, deep-fried turnovers, filled with mildly spiced potatoes and a green peas ($4.99). A variety of naan and other leavened breads make for good pre-meal snacks or for dipping into meals. My personal favorite is the onion kulcha bread layered with onion, pepper, and cilantro ($3.99).

In terms of main entrees, some of the most tasty and well-executed meals can be found in the vegetarian section. There are two I prefer most: Navratan korma ($13.99) consists of fresh vegetables — the type can vary — prepared in somewhat spicy almond-cashew cream sauce, and served with rice. And the malai kofta ($12.99) is packed oblong balls of grated veggies, paneer cheese, and nuts, prepared in a mild and rich cream sauce. Both meals go quite splendidly with a piece of naan or samosa for dipping.

— Alex Nunes

Olive Oyl's

6 Main St., Essex

(860) 767-4909

www.oliveoylscarryout.com

Good things often come in small packages, but Olive Oyl's in Essex proves bigger can be better, too. The sandwich and prepared foods shop recently moved up Main Street from a cozy little space by the river to a site at least triple the size at the former Village Provision Co. building. More space means more seating, more fun gourmet grocery items and foodie gifts for sale, and more breathing room for patrons not quite decided on what to eat.

Well and good, but most important, the culinary quality Olive Oyl's is known for made the move up the street just fine. There are dozens of specialty sandwiches on the regular menu, but I couldn't make it past the daily specials and breakfast options. If you see the Braised Beef Rib sandwich ($9.95) on the specials board anytime soon, order it. Order two, because you'll be sad when it's gone.

The breakfast burrito I sampled ($5.95) was among the best I've had in some time. Eventually, check out the prepared foods case, where standards and international treats like empanadas ($4.50 each) and Lebanese meat pies ($2.95) are ready to go and are both delicious. But there's so much more, from salads and soup to coffee creations and desserts. Factor in the lovely staff, and you've got an ideal place to start a day of exploring downtown Essex.

— Marisa Nadolny

LongHorn Steakhouse

850 Hartford Turnpike, Wateford

(860) 440-2881

Most of the folks who might look with some reluctance on mid-level steakhouse chains are those who can afford, when the Call of the Beef echoes through their stomachs, to blithely head to biggies such as Michael Jordan's or David Burke Prime. If such places are not in the regular budget, though, local establishments like LongHorn Steakhouse or Texas Roadhouse provide perfectly fine experiences for the carnivore.

I recently visited the Waterford LongHorn and realized that, not only could I get a nice, flavorful Renegade Sirloin (6 oz. for $12.79, 8 oz. $15.79, 11 oz. $18.99 including sides) with a buttery a jus, but that the folks behind LongHorn understand their demographic. As such, there are plenty of mid-priced options perhaps more associated with tavern food.

Fried pickles ($3.99) had that playful dill bite, but the tempura-like batter brought a beautiful, mellow quality. Likewise, spicy chicken bites ($5.99) were tender breast nuggets with a sneaky heat and a golden, luxuriant ginger/chile sauce. Not to be overlooked are the fresh vegetable sides ($2.99-$4.99) and a Key Lime Pie dessert served in a Mason jar with graham cracker spangles and a cumulus mound of whipped cream ($3.49). For beef and beyond, LongHorn is a well worth the trip.

— Rick Koster

Adrak 2's Bhindi Masala, left, and Navratan Karma (Photo by Alex Nunes)
Adrak 2's Bhindi Masala, left, and Navratan Karma (Photo by Alex Nunes)

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