Lunch: Shorty’s Roast Pork Special Packs a Mean Punch

“Thinly sliced, seasoned pork served with a homemade, spicy au jus on the side.”

photo(2)That sounds like comfort food, yes? In no way was I prepared for the in-your-face, garlic-y, pungent, cheesy taste sensation that threw my delicate tastebuds into serious sensory overload, so much so that for a few minutes I contemplated giving up and trying again, in search of something a little more … balanced. How could I have gone so wrong in my menu ordering? In not specifying my preference of cheese (provolone, sharp or mild), the sharp cheese was added by default, which only compounded the intensity of flavor: garlic-y broccoli rabe, spicy au jus, sharp provolone. Wow.

photoI think Shorty’s claim to be “NYC’s only authentic cheesesteak” is a little audacious, but the ingredients are done right, the goods are quality and the venue comfortable — I’ll definitely be back for the evening special — $8 for a cheesesteak and a pint, weekdays between 4-7p and 11p until closing. That’s a damn good deal — just make mine with mild.


Lunch: Pad See Ew, I Hardly Knew You

You were just so good / And I was just so hungry / There was no courtship / Just devouring / You feel so good in my belly.

So I got incredibly tied up at work today and finally ordered one of Aura Thai‘s lunch specials just in the nick of time — five minutes until 3p, when the specials end.

I’d brought enough arugula and sprouts to make a small side salad to go with whatever I ordered today, and so I did one of my favorite things, which may cause Thai food purists to wretch, but I sort of love: I mixed the greens in, let them get all saucy and wilty, too. (Really, who doesn’t want to get saucy and wilty?)

The bitterness of the greens/sprouts actually worked nicely with the sweet soy bean sauce. As always, there’s plenty of sauce to go around.

EARLIER: Broth with noodles, roast pork and wontons at Aura Thai (Lunch, April 7, 2009)

Lunch: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

“Better Burger.” Really, who says so? Isn’t that pretentious, a little? Or was it founded by some bitter former “Goodburger” employee?

photo(3)Reading the menu, words such as “soy protein,” “air-baked” and “nitrate-free meat” sent off warning bells. Is this one of those uses of “better” as in “better for you”? In the world of burgers, there is no such thing. My hackles were raised.

But, as I was unable to otherwise articulate what I actually wanted for lunch, beyond something new (to me), something fast, something not sit-down and something not deli — and at that moment I was outside the Better Burger location in Hell’s Kitchen on Ninth Avenue — I decided to give it a go.

And you know what? I’m really glad I did. Better Burger’s homemade veggie burger is made with a patty which is everything a veggie patty should be: savory, with a texture of rough-ground grains/vegetables, and unapologetically not a hamburger. (I love a good veggie burger; can’t stand the ones that wish they were meat.)

photoAnd to compliment the patty, some really first-class condiments: Thick, ripe roma tomato slices; thin-sliced red onion; long, slender pickle slices; a short stack of iceberg lettuce.

Top it off with a little Karma ketchup and … Don’t laugh. I, too, thought Karma ketchup was yet another crunchy-granola shout-out. It’s infinitely better. Karma ketchup is organic ketchup doctored up with curry, cumin, coriander and cardamon.

… As I was saying, top it all off with a little Karma ketchup and, yes, a little bit of bliss. I’ll be back for the beef; I hope they can cook it medium rare.

Lunch: Tuesday, April 7, 2009

photo12On a tip from a friend, I finally got around to checking out the sweet lunch specials at Aura

Now I say to you: Go!

And maybe go alone. Or else count yourself lucky if, as a party of two, you are seated immediately, and expect to wait if you total three or more. Their website lists the seating capacity as “approximately 22.” I’d agree.

Upon being seated, I immediately honed in on LS 1-7, the broth soup options, which are choose-your-own-adventure-esque: There are dozens of combinations of noodles, meats, broths and wontons possible. (Incidentally, Tom Yum Noodle Soup, LS 10, is lumped in with the rest of the entrees for unknown reasons — maybe for lack of substitution?) 

photo-22I opted for LS4 (broth with Cantonese noodles, roast pork and wontons), and it was excellent. But had I known for a second that the pork was going to be that generic, sliced kind tossed in with stir-fries, etc. — rather than some crispy pork or belly pork that I was imagining (dreaming) — I would have totally gone to the duck side (atrocious Star Wars reference).

Read this oldie but goodie review of LS7 — duck broth with noodles, roast duck and wontons — from Time Out NY and you’ll see why.

COST: >$10, after tax & tip
PREP TIME: They run a tight ship, and they will get you in and out in under an hour in no time — probably even if you have to wait a few minutes for a table.

Daily specials that are really special are always a good sign. Check out what was on Aura’s clapboard today after the jump: Continue reading “Lunch: Tuesday, April 7, 2009”