Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Revisiting Meson Madrid's $19.95 twin-lobster special, plus Art of Spice

Two whole lobsters, plus side dishes, for only $19.95 is a great deal at Meson Madrid in Palisades Park, where the promotion is held three nights a week.


Lobster lovers know where to go to get plenty of delicious claw and tail meat -- plus soup or salad and two more side dishes -- for only $19.95.

Meson Madrid, a decades-old Spanish restaurant in Palisades Park, offers the Twin Lobster Special at dinner on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

We drove there on Tuesday afternoon, just as servers were setting up for dinner, and had the chilly main dining room to ourselves.

We tried the Twin Lobster Special in August, and Tuesday's meal was almost as good.

Expecting a rush, the kitchen partially pre-cooks the lobsters and finishes them when they are ordered -- steamed or broiled.

The claws of my two lobsters were covered in an ashy white from congealed hemolymph or what the crustaceans have instead of blood.

Soft claw, leg and knuckle shells proved a bigger problem, making it difficult to crack them and extract the meat. Tails are split and removing the meat from them was a lot easier.

Both me and my wife took home leftovers.

The Twin Lobster Special includes a small salad served with French dressing or soup, and on Tuesday, I had the salad and my wife tried the Caldo Gallego, a white-bean soup with ham.

You also get yellow rice and house-made potato chips, both of which were glistening with oil but not greasy, and second helpings if you have room.
I ordered a glass of the house Cabernet ($8), and asked for extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter so I could dip pieces of the toasted bread we were served, below.

We wanted to see an early movie in Paramus so arrived at Meson Madrid just as servers were setting up the dining room.


Meson Madrid Restaurant, 343 Bergen Boulevard, Palisades Park; 201-947-8211. Open 7 days. Twin Lobster Special at dinner Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Website: Traditional Food from Spain

Indo-Chinese Shrimp Schezwan Noodles, top, and Palak Dal with basmati rice at Art of Spice on Main Street in Hackensack.

Indian-style fine dining

You wouldn't think a traditional Spanish restaurant such as Meson Madrid would have anything in common with Art of Spice, a fine-dining Indian restaurant with moderate prices.

But at both restaurants, we encountered a lot of delicious, hard-to-resist carbs -- such as potatoes, rice and bread -- and found that Asian-Indian cooking relies heavily on butter, which I try to avoid.

Of course, the appeal of Art of Spice is aromatic food prepared with an array of freshly ground spices that you find in no other cuisine, and plenty of dishes for non-meat eaters.

An appetizer of Vegetable Samosa, which are stuffed with pureed potatoes and fried ($7).
A sweet-and-savory snack called Dahi Puri includes crunchy fried dough holding cold yogurt, both flavored with tamarind syrup ($7).

Art of Spice also serves Indo-Chinese fusion dishes, such as Shrimp Schezwan Noodles ($13), but the shrimp were hard to find.

Our server suggested we order bread, but said the Garlic Naan usually is made with butter. We ordered a non-butter version ($4.50). Once you are seated, you receive complimentary thin, crispy chickpea wafers and two dipping sauces, tamarind and a fiery green chili.

The dining room at Art of Spice is a cavernous space that seats 100. This table is in a window looking out at one of the most forlorn blocks in downtown Hackensack, opposite a construction site that has been idle since late June.

Art of Spice serves a lunch buffet for $10.99 on weekdays and $12.99 on weekends.


Art of Spice, 159 Main St., Hackensack; 201-342-3444. Open 7 days, but closes between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. BYO, metered street parking and a small lot in rear. Delivery available.

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