In the spirit of All Hallows’ Eve, we sought out some of the scariest treats our fine environs have to offer. Our quest was anything but systematic — we went by rumor, legend, and masochistic curiosity. We risked heartburn, heart attack, and hangover to concoct a list of treats worthy of the name: Heavy Table’s Terrifically Terrifying Three.
Bludgeon of Beef at Manny’s Steakhouse
We’ve seen it on the menu, but never dared to order the gigantic steak. It’s named after a weapon, for Heaven’s sake! At about four inches thick and 50 ounces (more than three pounds), The Bludgeon ($86) is Flintstones big. Its long, thick bone could double as a nightstick or something to stir your cauldron with. And presented on Manny’s steak cart (think cheese cart, but with cuts of beef), the beautifully marbled tomahawk rib eye dares you: Feast on the beast.
The Bludgeon is not just terrifyingly large; it’s scary tasty. Aged for about a month and cooked to a glorious medium rare, the meat is tender and juicy on the inside and exquisitely charred on the outside. Although we were absurdly full after eating just about a third of the steak, we didn’t stop. We couldn’t stop. It was too damn good. That’s the real danger of The Bludgeon. You probably won’t hurt yourself or others with the battle-ready bone, but you’ll want to eat all the meat… again and again, heart (and wallet) be damned.
Red Revolution Fish at Little Szechuan (West End)
Little Szechuan‘s Red Revolution Fish ($15) is radical. According to its four-pepper designation (out of a possible four) and our server’s assurances, this is the spiciest item on the restaurant’s menu — which is saying something because heat is a central characteristic of Szechuan cuisine. With its deep, blood red hue, the mass of chili peppers floating on a layer of chili oil, and the bobbing barrier of peppercorns that promises a disorienting tingle for the uninitiated, everything about this dish screams, “STOP!” But you shouldn’t.
The bark is worse than the bite here, since you fish the tender pieces of flounder out of the broth and eat them over rice. The broth penetrates the fish, making it spicy, but not inedible, and the numbing effect of the peppercorns makes the heat less intense. To get the full effect of the concoction, though, we sipped on a small bowl of broth. The delicious firewater made our heads sweat, noses run, and stomachs burn. Both trick and treat, Red Revolution is an ideal Halloween dish.
Wonderous Punch at Red Dragon
When we arrived at the Red Dragon around 4:30pm on a Friday, we expected to enter a dank dungeon of disrepute (we know people who know these things). Besides an off-putting smell of parties past, however, the bar was decently lit, the servers were friendly, and the booths were comfortable. We ordered the Wonderous Punch ($12.50), chicken fried rice, and bacon-wrapped chicken livers (FYI, the rice was solid but the livers were dreadful).
The color of sunset, the Punch looked downright festive — hardly the challenge we’d been warned about. But those good looks hid a dark side: four shots of rum (Bacardi White, Bacardi Gold, Bacardi 151, and Myers) with a token amount of mixer (orange /pineapple juice, sour mix, and grenadine). The drink was sweet without being cloying, but we did notice the slow burn of rail liquor. The danger sets in around halfway through, when the booze bomb begins to taste just like cheap punch… but you don’t care. Without the tolerance of a world-class swiller, this punch drink will get you punch drunk. Which is, of course, the point.
It’s dangerously deceptive: “Hey man, it’s just fruit punch!” So you go for a second or even a third, and the next thing you know, you’ve got a face tattoo and a poker debt… or at least a hangover. Oh-so-seductive, Red Dragon’s Wonderous Punch just might be the most terrifying of the terrifying.
–James Norton contributed to this report by drinking the Wonderous Punch