>> Friday, October 30, 2009

Continental Avenue East
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Phone? This is a cart.

When the Halal cart appeared on Continental a couple years back, there was a mixed bag of emotions. Occupying the pro-cart side were those who felt that the availability of a five dollar lunch was a.) about time and b.) simply FH taking its place as a part of the city, a sign that we weren't some forgotten quasi-suburb. On the anti-cart side were those who felt that it cheapened the neighborhood. I remember people pressuring (or talking about pressuring) the city counsel to get rid of the carts, the Nuts4Nuts guys, the fruit stands. This wasn't midtown Manhattan, some argued. The sidewalks are too narrow, came others. I don't like smelling the food when I walk by, was another complaint.

I stood then, as I stand now, squarely on the "pro-carts" side of the debate. The sidewalk argument just isn't accurate, as it's plenty wide (see photo); the we're-not-midtown argument is irrelevant, neither is Roosevelt Avenue and one of the cart guys there wins awards for his food; the smell argument is just plain grasping at straws. I like warm peanuts and can't complain about getting produce for less with no line. As for the cart, given the economy, I'll never complain about lunch or dinner for $5 ($6 with a Diet Coke).

So how is the food? First, this is cart food. I won't lie and say it looks appetizing. It's like getting fast food takeout only way faster and looks like slop. But if you're looking for gourmet from a cart, you really need to get out more (or try Bistro Truck). The cart offers gyros and platters of chicken or lamb with rice and a "salad" of lettuce and tomato. They stopped selling falafel and french fries. I'm not sure why, but my guess is a broken fryer. Most recently, I went for the lamb platter. Lamb with rice and the salad I mentioned. Hot sauce and white sauce, please, and don't skimp on the hot. The lamb was far less greasy than some of the carts that I've tried in Manhattan (and I've tried a lot of them) and came with onion, which is an important addition from my culinary point of view. It alters the flavor profile dramatically and in a good way.

Long story short. For a quick, cheap bite at any time of the day or night, our local version of the Halal cart does its job pretty damn well.

...actually, this should read "the only 1 in Town"... don'tcha' think?


Anonymous,  January 7, 2010 at 8:01 PM  

Is it the typical ground up mystery meat or real chunks of lamb?

Jon Parker January 8, 2010 at 12:48 AM  

Ha. Totally the ground up mystery meat. But the mystery meat is actually a lamb/beef combo.

Watch the video here:

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