The Dirty Truth Beer Hall, Northampton, MA

After trials and tribulations, The Dirty Truth was exposed- as a fantastic restaurant. Having heard good things about their atmosphere and even better things on their menu, it seemed essential to give this a go.

For a bar that happens to serve food, The Dirty Truth (TDT for now) has a very eclectic and indulgent menu, spanning multiple continents and favoring the liberal usage of duck confit. That’s my kind of place. The appetizers looked tame and prosaic, standard carbohydrates that would undoubtedly sop up the copious of alcohol one generally consumes, so those were passed over. However, the entrees were strange and flavorful. Eventually, the menu was whittled down to one familiar and one foreign- macaroni and cheese with truffle oil and a side of fries and onion bhaji with moussaka, an Indian napoleon with peas and rice on the side.

It’s necessary to preface this with a warning about the obnoxious, pretentious commentary one will encounter upon reading this menu. Hipsters, approach! Neurotypicals, begone! The vintage Windows 97 “chiller” font and chatty side notes are unnecessary. Just say what’s in your crab cakes, please, and check the Def Leppard references at the door. Calling something unctuous is up to me. And finally, a disclaimer with fine print is completely unnecessary. Is this the café at Fear Factor?
The food arrived in moderate portions and steaming hot. Both were presented simply but aesthetically on the plate, treading the line between artisan and rustic. At first glance, the truffled macaroni could not be taken seriously. Having never been to a restaurant where the base for the mac and cheese was elbow noodles and not off the kid’s menu, this was a little off-putting. Soon, all fears were assuaged as it was obvious this was an intentional choice, the cheese sauce clinging to the noodles like a silk slip and adhering perfectly. The sauce was beautiful, all the cheeses mingling together and gently keeping the noodles in intact clumps, but easily breaking apart should one desire a smaller forkful. Truffle oil is one of the best ingredients for pasta, and it added another layer to the flavors, never overpowering or yielding an oily texture, but providing a fantastic earthy and nutty flavor all unto its own.

The fries on the side were beautiful and hearty, neither shoestring nor steak but achieving a glorious medium in between. They were cooked to a golden crisp, but might have been in oil a hair too low, because there was a slightly unpalatable oily presence. However, the thickness of the pieces and size was delicious, and the simple combination of salt and potato made these addictive.

As for the onion bhaji, it was presented like most Indian food- in a delightful duo of fried foods and mush. Or it should have been. Valiant attempts at ethnic cuisine are best left for the experts, because this was all mush and no crunch. The overall texture was somewhere between baby food and overcooked, and the negligence of leaving the eggplant skin and flesh ratio high resulted in a bitter flavor. If one’s eyes were closed, the cloyingly sweet flavor was reminiscent of a chunky applesauce with a blend of interesting spices, but the dish on its own was too heavy and too clashing to enjoy. The side dishes, though simple, fared quite well. Peas, a typical staple of prisons and mental institutions, were given an extreme makeover. Turns out they needed only a little fresh mint to make them fresh and snappy.

The Dirty Truth offers a wide array of food and drink to keep anyone entertained and sated during a blind date or night out with the girls, but one must be open to partying hard in a dark and cave-like environment. The bright side of this is that the art changes monthly, so the disturbing and macabre Looney Tunes portraits (a la Gacy) of our last visit are, like most misunderstood and obscure things, ephemeral. Thank god for that.

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