Lunch: A Little Line Gawking at Biryani Cart

Couldn’t help it. In need of a stroll, I decided to check out the photoscene at Biryani Cart and their adjacent “Sandwich Land” cart, which sells just slightly different options, to see what it was like post-publication of the full-page article in the New York Times’ Dining Section this week in which the cart was featured front and center.

It took me a moment to decipher what, exactly, was going on, but I sorted it out: Only the original Biryani Cart sells the kati rolls (per the photo in the NYT article), and for that cart there was a line of about 10 people at 2 p.m. There was no line for the adjacent “Sandwich Land” cart, which sells your standard chicken-and-rice plates, pita wraps, sandwiches, etc.

photo(3)Seriously hungry and in no mood to wait around, I ducked in to the counter of the Sandwich Land cart, and was on my way with my chicken-and-rice plate ($5.50) less than five minutes later.

How was it? It was fine. It’s now gone. I was hungry. Rice was a little dry; I’m not a fan of fennel seeds; there was no real dressing to the salad, so it was just a pile of iceberg lettuce; the sauces, standard. Like I said, it was fine; it’s gone; I was hungry.

Of my own street-cart food foragings documented on this blog so far, Meal O’Bama’s combination plate is remains the one to beat.

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Breakfast: The “I Really Need to Find a Quality Bagel Shop in Midtown” Post

photoDuring the weekday breakfast rush, nearly every open food establishment in the city turns into essentially same thing:

A grill, that does some combination of egg sandwiches, omelets, pancakes and french toast; an oatmeal bar; a bakery case with pastries, bagels, croissants; and a refrigerated case with yogurt parfaits, fresh-squeezed juice, etc.

I’m getting a little tired of it. So to find an egg sandwich on an English muffin — as rather than a croissant, roll, or toast — at Teleon Cafe ($3.35) that I punched my fist into the air and shouted, “Yeesss!!

photo(2)Okay, I did not do that. But I was secretly very pleased with my discovery. Except that, well, it tastes pretty much like an egg, bacon, cheese and tomato sandwich. The English muffin was not different enough to actually be different.

I need to find a really good bagel shop in Midtown, the kind where once a week or a couple times a month I upgrade and get a really fresh bagel piled high with cream cheese, lox, red onion, capers; squeezed with lemon … like they serve at Murray’s, or Zucker’s. The English muffin is definitely just a band-aid to this issue (and not a very good one at that).

Dinner: And What a Feast it Was (the Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue Post)

photo(5)The crew that made the trek to Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue in Harlem on a rainy Wednesday night counted a dozen-ish. We arrived about 8:30p and were the last to leave. In between, we consumed:

2 orders Jumbo Bar-B-Cue chicken wings (13 ct.)
3 full racks of ribs (Bar-B-Cue rib smackers)
1 lb. barbecued pork, hand-pulled
1 lb. beef brisket, Texas style
1 chicken, special of the night, jerk-style sauce

photo(3)
bucket of Pork Slap beer

1 qt. Bar-B-Cue beans
1 qt. simmered greens
1 qt. Syracuse-style salt potatoes
1 qt. mac n cheese
1 qt. cole slaw
1 qt. Creole potato salad

2 Key lime pie slices
1 Chocolate Icebox pie
1 Fruit Crisp

5 buckets of Pork Slap beer (6 ct.)

Can I have a moment of silence for our complete and utter fullness?

[Silence.]

Whew. There were so many of us that we ordered our meats by the rack and by the pound, and our sides by the quart, and hit up all of Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue’s best, which include:

#1 The ribs. They’re huge and meaty, falling-off-the-bone tender, photo(6)perfect alone or improved with a swipe of Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue’s regular (sweet) or spicy (mildly spicy) sauce. Definitely the house specialty, as someone pointed out last night, it’s kind of hard to order and not end up with ribs on your plate. (All the meat combo plates come standard with a 1/4 rack of ribs.)

photo#2 The Jumbo Bar-B-Cue chicken wings. Get a mix of spicy and regular — spicy isn’t too spicy. I am no chicken wing connoisseur. In fact, when I eat chicken wings I’m making an exception. Too, too often they’re small, fatty, dry, the sauce slathered on thick in an attempt to compensate for inadequacies in other (aforementioned) departments. Like I said, I do make exceptions. My grandpa in Buffalo, N.Y., has his own killer sauce recipe, his own commercial deep-frier, and makes every batch himself. To which I say, “Yes, please!”
Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue’s wings are another exception.

photo(4)#3 The Syracuse-style salt potatoes. I have no idea what that means. I assume the “Syracuse” reference is a nod to Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue’s first location, in Upstate New York (their third and only other location is in Rochester, N.Y.) … In fact, a quick Google search reveals salt potatoes are a regional specialty of upstate/central New York, which means the “Syracuse-style” bit in the listing on the menu is redundant. (See the Wikipedia entry here, and this recipe from the New York Times.) Regardless, these thin-skinned, cut-with-your-fork tender, little morsels are some of the best potatoes I’ve ever had in my life.

photo(2)And lastly, #4, Key lime pie. I missed out on the photo op, so here’s a photo of my whole plate of food instead, but this pie is just … pillow-y and cool and smooth and creamy and not-too-sweet, lightly lime-y taste that is so refreshing after plates of barbecued meat and the rest. Which is not to say that Key lime pie is light in calories, either (surely the pie is indebted to heavy cream for its silkiness); it’s a fitting end to a feast.