>> Wednesday, May 21, 2008

106-12 71st Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 793-7177

Pahal Zan sits almost hidden under the LIRR tracks on 71st/Continental. In fact, for the first six months I lived here, I didn't even know they existed even though I walked past them every day on my way to the subway. Pahal Zan is kosher and serves a variety of kosher "street food", for lack of a better term. Kabobs, gyros, and so forth, with a Moroccan flair. So you know this stuff ain't healthy and therefore, must taste good. And man oh man does it taste good.

Street food or no, this isn't fast food. This isn't the Halal cart guy who makes the chicken and keeps it warm for you. Everything here is raw until you start talking. So you might wait a bit.

The sheer tininess of Pahal Zan (pity the fat man who wants some schawarma) makes eating inside a laughable notion. Oh sure, there's a counter with stools, but in all real practicality, the counter's a shelf and the stools are a courtesy for when you're waiting and don't want to stand. But on a busy day, the people on the stools get in the way of the people on line. Just take your food, leave, and find a bench. That's what I did.

Pahal Zan is kosher, and strictly so. Therefore, should your a craving for their fare hit you one Friday evening or at all on a Saturday, you're SOL.

I had hoped to order the House Soup. Pahal Zan says that it's the best soup "ever". Them's big words. I was denied. It's only sold in the winter.

Instead I tried a range of other things:
I tried three pitas (with Bro. After all, I don't want to be that poor fat guy I mentioned who couldn't get in the door.): The Lamb Kebab Pita, The Turkey Shawarma Pita and The Falafel Pita, in descending order of greatness. The lamb kebab pita was flat out amazing. Tender, warm and juicy. The turkey was almost as good, and certainly was as good as could be hoped for (I have a thing for red meat). Perfectly spiced and oozing flavor. The falafel was actually mediocre. It tasted thick and chickpeaish, which is unsurprising, but it got completely lost in the pita filling. I'd probably order it separately and dunk it in the hummus... more on that later. Speaking of fillings, I got them filled with everything. Salad, tahini sauce, hummus, hot sauce, eggplant. If it was there, I asked for it. Except for the peppers and beets. I skipped the peppers and beets.

Okay, the Hummus. In all honesty, this might have been the best hummus I can remember having. That may not say much since I don't really eat much hummus. Still, it was as smooth as toothpaste instead of gritty and lumpy as some others I've had are. It was so good, I found myself dipping the Israeli French Fries we ordered in it. The french fries were Israeli. I'm guessing that this implies that they were seasoned, which they were. And they were quite good, albeit too soggy. Still, the flavor made up for the sogginess. I won't take them over the fries at Casanis in Nolita, but they were still pretty kickass.

These three pita sandwiches, the fries and the hummus was $32.75. Is $8 per pita sandwich cheap? Well, I don't think so, but I think you could do far worse for your money.



>> Friday, May 16, 2008

107-23 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(888) 488-DEES

There is much debate about who makes a better pizza, Nick's, who I'll get to soon enough, or Dee's. They're like Coke and Pepsi. People have their favorites and can argue all day long, but the truth is that they're both fancy pizza places and anyone going there who thinks that they'll get anything remotely similar to something from Famous Original Ray's Originally Famous Pizza by Ray will be proven flat-out wrong. I happen to prefer Dee's to Nick's. Dee's is also an actual restaurant, while Nick's is exclusively pizza.

Dee of Dee's is, according to the plaque on the wall, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, Bobby Flay's alma mater. And I happen to feel that the taste of the dishes on the menu bring out this French twist on Italian (really Mediterranean) food. Standard, old-school Italian this is not. Virtually every option you can choose from is different from how Grandma would make it. That said, I'm not Italian and my grandparents can't cook worth a damn, so read this with a grain of kosher salt (my Grandparents weren't Kosher either, by the way, but it is better to cook with).

Dee's fills up often. Often enough, in fact, that if you were the poor sucker who didn't reserve through Open Table earlier in the day, you'll be given one of those tacky chain restaurant blinky-buzzers to let you know that the hostess can seat you.

Bro and I showed up around at 8-something on a crappy, rainy Friday evening. They were pretty full with people arriving behind us and nobody leaving. For appetizers, we tried the Coconut Shrimp, served with a chipotle dipping sauce and the Cigarettea Tapas. The coconut shrimp were very good, but could have been crispier. Still, I can't complain about this comfort food starter, even if does kinda feel TGIFridaysesque. The coconut wasn't overpowering and the sauce accompanied it well. The cigaretta tapas were a trio of fried "spring rolls". One was filled with feta cheese and mozzarella and was absolutely vile. But I paid for it, so I ate it. Next up was filled with Spanish rice and was on the other side of the spectrum. I liked it a lot. Finally was one filled with a long strip of steak, cooked medium. This was the best one and actually worked very well with the rice tapa. Three dipping sauces come with it. There are regular entrees on the menu too, like skirt steak, tuna, kabobs, and so forth, but in all my years eating here, I've never actually ordered them. Maybe someone can comment about what they think.

For entrees we tried the Dee's Fettuccine, a pimped-out version of fettuccine alfredo. They toss in some shrimp, smoked bacon, and add brie to the sauce. Needless to say, since it takes one of the least healthy pasta dishes and makes it even worse for people with heart conditions, it's delicious. I went for one of my old faves, the Cheese Tortellini. I've had this on my short list even since an ex-girlfriend of mine ordered it a few years ago. The cheese tortellini are served in a parmesan sauce with peas and prosciutto. As I said. Normally, I'd love this entree. But for whatever reason, this time, something was wrong. Actually, two somethings. One, the sauce was seriously lacking, like it was being rationed. Two, the tortellini was undercooked. So do I recommend it? Yeah, just not the one I was eating. I've been here a hundred times in the past and I'm likely to be back a hundred more.

This past time, we skipped the pizza. But I can tell you a little sump'n-sump'n about them anyway. Since it's a brick oven place the pizzas are paper thin, and about 12-inches or so large. They're not huge. The crusts are all charred slightly, adding a smokiness to the flavor. The one I order like it's crack is the Chicken Delight, which is the standard Classico pizza (cheese and sauce) with caramelized onions and chicken. I have yet to meet freak who didn't like this. I also happen to like the Wild Mushroom one that replaces the onions and chicken with a random peppering of "exotic" mushrooms. Sadly, I get into a rut and don't really order more than these three. But Dee's has a whole selection of toppings so you can go crazy building your own. Speeds did that once and ended up with something actually very good. I think it had olives, goat cheese, sauce, artichoke, sun-dried tomato and something else. But it sure as hell wasn't your standard pie.

The appetizers average $10 each. The pastas average $15 each. Entrees are in the $20s. Expect to spend about $12-$15 per pizza. Toss on a few more bucks for tax and tip.



>> Saturday, May 10, 2008

104-02 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 261-2144

For good reason Danny Brown is the most beloved new restaurant in the neighborhood. The menu doesn't feel old no matter how many times you order the same dish, the staff is among the best I have ever had the pleasure of being served by, the atmosphere is classy without being arrogant. Danny Brown raised the bar for local restaurants. I truly hope that others will attempt to reach this high.

But enough praise. Plenty of people have waxed poetic about Danny Brown, myself included... twice. Once when I first started eateryROW and once when Daniel Boulud made a douche of himself by threatening to sue over Danny Brown's "db" logo. Read 'em below.


REVIEW TWO: (db vs. db)

Note: I'll be adding fresh reviews soon. Right now, I'm just burning through the ones I've already written. Fear not.



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