Terrace Diner Dinner

After getting back to my parent’s house tonight, we all went out to dinner at the family favorite restaurant–the Terrace Diner in West Babylon. As diner’s go, this is definitely the best, in my opinion; the service is consistently good, the food is consistently good (I’ve never been at all disappointed by something I ordered), and the prices are average-or-better for this area.

Being a very small fan of fried/heavily sauced/otherwise loaded with fat meals, I generally only choose from a few items I know won’t send my GI tract into a violent storm of “you’ve loaded me with too much lipid, idiot!” convulsions–their vegetable wrap is one of my favorites. However, tonight I actually spotted something on the dinner specials list that seemed like something I’d enjoy: Pasta Angelica, a mélange of sautéed chicken breast, mushrooms, garlic, onion, and red pepper in olive oil and balsamic vinegar over penne. I asked for them to go light on the oil (which they did!), and lo! I was finally able to order a meal that included dessert for once!!

<Matzoh Ball Soup
A lone little ball floating in my broth
My meal began with an appropriately diminutive bowl of matzoh ball soup. The matzoh was perfect souping consistency–firm enough to hold together in broth, tender enough to easily slice off bite-sized pieces with a my spoon. It was also lightly herbed, which was a pleasant addition to the normally plain dough. I was quite thoroughly pleased by the fact that the broth wasn’t too salty, and it was definitely well-developed, the chicken flavor was satisfyingly intense. 🙂

After the soup came a small, side-salad-size plate of the house Greek salad. I didn’t bother to photograph it because it was just your standard greens + cucumber + tomato + feta + olives salad with a little cup of the House dressing. My family goes to this diner primarily for this dressing, which really is unimpressive visually–it’s a cloyingly yellow, thick dressing almost reminiscent of custard. The taste, on the other hand, is remarkable: garlicky, smooth, and oh-so-tasty but not too rich. I never use all that they give you because of how flavorful it is; just a little bit goes a very long way.

Next up was my main event for the meal. Well, at least, what most, non-dessert-oriented people would consider the main event. 😉

Pasta Angelica
The aroma of this dish was nirvana
What never ceases to amaze me about the Terrace Diner is how they always cook their chicken exactly right–it’s never underdone, and at the same time it’s never overcooked to the point of dry, stringy unappetizingness. I’ve tried a number of their chicken dishes, and each time it’s arrived in front of me at the perfect temperature and moist, tender, delicious. The Pasta Angelica’s chicken cubes had the benefit of being covered in balsamic vinegar and a teeny bit of olive oil. Everything in this dish was fantastically flavorful, and I’ve since become convinced that nothing goes with mushrooms like balsamic vinegar. Mmm! :yum:

Because I knew that I still had dessert coming to me, and while that pasta would be very hard to top, I had faith it would be the highlight of my dinner, so I deliberately only ate about a third of the main course. I asked our server to wrap up the rest, and after everyone else in my family had finished up their dinners, I took a short stroll over to the dessert cases and pondered my options. I was faced with the choices of rice pudding, chocolate pudding, Jello, chocolate cheesecake, plain cheesecake, strawberry-topped sugar-free cheesecake, apple pie, cherry pie, bluberry pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate layer cake, chocolate mousse cake, a streusel-topped apple tart, various small pastries and brownies and cookies, and the cake I wound up deciding on: carrot cake.

Carrot Cake Side View
A moist, tender crumb sandwiched by cheesy frosting
On any given day, you’re bound to find me unable to pass up chocolate. I’m definitely a chocoholic. However, after such a filling meal as what preceded this dessert selection process, I wasn’t really up for the clearly decadent and heavy chocolate desserts (well, except for the pudding, but come on–who on earth in their right mind would select pudding of all things when faced with choices like the ones I had before me???). Besides, the cute little carrots on top were absolutely calling to me. I could here their squeaky little voices chirping my name as I thoughtfully considered all of my potential desserts.

And after all that consideration, the selection I settled on did not disappoint at all. The cake was splendidly most, with more than enough shredded carrot, walnut pieces, plumped raisins, and wintery spices to go around. Usually for me, cake is just an excuse to eat frosting, but I’d actually order this dessert with the intention of enjoying the cake in its own right the next time I go to Terrace. At the same time, this is not to downplay the glory of that frosting in any way, shape, or form.

Carrot Cake View from Above
The photo doesn’t do justice to that sweet topping
Seriously, this cream cheese frosting gets an A+++ in my book for Doing What Cheesecake Frosting is Supposed to Do. It perfectly balanced the spicy, carroty, tender cake with creamy, flavorful sweetness. It wasn’t so cream cheesey as to mislead me into thinking I’m eating a cheesecake when clearly I’m not, and at the same time it wasn’t so overly-sugared as to make my teeth hurt and my tongue go dry. It was Perfection. Except there should’ve been more; for the Queen of Frosting (i.e. me), there just simply wasn’t enough of this amazing concotion between and atop and around those cake layers. 😛 Alas, I really can’t complain too much in the face of the overal fantabulousness of my dessert.

Really, the cake in general was honestly the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. It’s inspired me to attempt my own carrot cake-baking endeavor, so not only can I have a wonderfully well-endowed cake with the epitome of greatness in the form of cream cheese frosting, but I can make sure there’s enough of said frosting. 😉

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