The event was crowded, but the chaos was pretty well-organized. Plus I got to meet the blogger behind Midtown Lunch which is basically a celebrity sighting for a food nerd like me. Had tables been spaced a little further apart, I think we would have been able to avoid some of the congestion problems, but even with crowds packed in so closely that I could hear the henna-haired hipstress behind me call me a d-bag for still wearing my tie from work, we managed to sample a ton of interesting bites so forgive the lengthy post.
Servers seemed confused and disoriented but made up for it with an interesting cornmeal and okra mush topped with kingfish and flavorful fishcakes that would probably have been better fresh out of the fryer. Jerked pork was nothing special: two fatty hunks of pork in sauce.
I didn't care for the spicy beef salad with pomelo. I didn't get much of the herbs or spice, but plenty of sweetness from the pineapples and dressing. Overall I'd call it unbalanced.
Sosaties were interesting. Friends were jarred to taste mutton in what they mistook these for chocolate croissants, but we would definitely pay a visit to Braai for these snacks at happy hour.
Eggplant salad was very garlicky and tasty. The sausage had the type of rustic flavor that is truly transportative, though the stale, chewy bread was a fail.
I should've known better. The blackened shrimp themselves were fine, but the accompanying remoulade was a mayonnaisey waste of calories. Jambalaya was a disaster; there's more to it than just dumping tomatoes and cayenne into rice. They might as well have cooked that mush in ketchup.
Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop
Chopped liver was creamy and very light tasting, unlike the oniony and eggy chopped liver I normally get. This was the only dish I had twice and if I had a craving for chopped liver, Eisenberg's would definitely be a place to visit.
Nasi lemak was gone by the time I arrived, so I only got to try the curried chicken with sambal belacan. The curry was just ok and adding just a tiny dab of sambal did nothing to elevate the flavors. Perhaps the rice would've balanced things out, but what I tasted was disappointing.
There was chicken and shrimp in those croquettes? I couldn't tell. Only the cheese croquettes were readily identifiable with the pleasant creaminess of the cheese contrasting with its crisp encasing. Bolinho de bacalhau were good with meaty bits of flaked cod, however kibbe were dry and flavorless.
My first taste of Haitian food was a pleasant surprise. The griot and mushroom rice sounded simplistic but were absolutely delicious especially with the vinegary hot sauce on the side. Catfish salad was interesting, though a bit one-note.
Sosatie was much better here than at Braai. The flavors were big and bold, with considerably more textural contrast. The boisterous South African servers had almost as much character as the food.
Patisserie des Ambasades
Peanut fried rice was dry and didn't taste of anything much, let alone peanuts. The accompanying vegetable stew was an equal disappointment.
Peppa's Jerk Chicken
Chicken had a good smokey flavor and I loved the aggressive kick in the tangy sauce. Fried dumplings were exactly what they sounded like and probably unnecessary.
Loved the grits! Very satisfying without relying on clichés of richness. The shortribs were somewhat dry for that cut and a little smokier than I would've liked, but otherwise pretty good. More cilantro and less scallion would've added a little more interest to the flavors.
This new Filipino restaurant in Astoria was an exciting find. Their sauce for the kaldereta was rich and shot through with the mouth-filling flavors of goat and sweet peppers. Pancit looked great, but the adobo was an even better choice. The owners evinced a real passion for their cuisine and talked like old friends glad to see you.
The sandwich was everything it promised to be. Not too greasy, though I would've appreciated more herbs to take the sandwich just to the next level of balance between pork and plant. The crunchy crackling is addictive.
Queen of Sheba
I was surprise at how spicy the miser wat was. I don't remember Queen of Sheba being this aggressive, but if this is how they're seasoning their food now, I've got to get over there pronto.
You would've thought the cooks were assembling Fabergé eggs the way they gingerly assembled these lamb sandwiches. I loved the contrast of fresh tomatoes and garlic cream against the gamey lamb, but I don't know if I'm willing to wait so long for something so perfectly simple.
Nice comforting flavors, though nothing especially memorable.
Chiles rellenos actually packed quite the punch. I was pleasantly surprised. The mole, however, just didn't do it for me. I'm not certain if it's because I don't like mole or if the skimpy filling meant I was just eating sauce on tortillas, but it's not something I'm rushing to go back for.
I was not a fan of the musty flavor of their chorizo. The other tapas, however, were spot on. Tortilla española was creamy, as were the croquetas. Datiles con tocino wre exactly what they should be and very filling for such a small morsel.
I thought Sheep Station was one of the better offerings of the evening. Their lamb sandwich was certainly better than Back Forty's dried out lamb meatball.
Agreed w/Bar Bao's beef salad - pretty tasty!
I was seriously disappointed w/Kampuchea - their chicken wing was totally boring. I'd easily take an Atomic wing or Croxley's Ale wing over these.
I also hated Delta Grill's stewed pork. Way too sweet and had the texture of baby food.
Unfortunately I am just seeing this post now, although I did attend last night and wondered if anyone else had some notes about their experience…
I do have to say there were way too many ticket holders present; I think the event would have done better as maybe a two part series, or a staggered event. By 8pm I was so sick of people bumping into me we had to leave.
Always tasty veg food.
very nice sliced meats, enjoyed the truffled mortadella
One of my favorite places in my neighborhood, however I did not see their stand last night
the first thing we tried, I believe it was some sort of tofu with mushroom, good but not as different as I was expecting.
One of my top favorites, the rice and veg’s were excellent. I even loved the griot which is not my favorite food.
Peppa's Jerk Chicken
really great authentic jerk chicken
Momofuku Milk Bar and Bakery
was all gone by the time we got in at 7:10
AM-Thai Chili Basil Kitchen
very tasty green curry chicken And they had a huge selection of food
Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop
tasty chopped liver, nothing spectacular, but good all the same.
Always tasty veg food.
Ive been to the one on Hudson with my husband and enjoyed it, however last night by the time we got to them they were out of rice and simply offered their coconut chicken which I found extremely greasy and un appetizing.
No. 7, Mooncake Foods, Barbao
I know we tried these, but for the life of me I cannot remember the food
Friend and I were there last night and I am having major food hangover now! I was actually pleasantly surprised by the crowd situation--thought there was more room than expected though the middle aisle did get crowded at one point. Was also surprised that all the alcohol was included as well (alas, I don't drink, so that was wasted on me).
Margon (see http://midtownlunch.com/2009/04/01/ma...
Fatty Crab's coconut rice (could've eaten just a plateful of that alone!)
Baoguette (I think I liked the bread as much as I liked what was in it)
Fette Sau (this was the first or second stand on the left when you entered the hall)
Whole Foods was also promoting some delicious gelato which name I can't recall. Also, while I didn't stick around long enough for this, one of the people working the WF stand said that they would be giving away all the fruits, pasta, and other items they had on display at the end of the evening. Managed to take one of its recyclable bags and some fruit.
Overall, I really enjoyed it, though I need to learn to pace myself better! Apparently, last year's event at the Puck Building was much more crowded and many of the places ran out of food early on. I know that Momofuku Milk Bar ran out of its cookies early. I grabbed several and will be enjoying them later!
Sorry, should have clarified that I grabbed "several" meaning I took one of each (there were three types that I could see), which was what most of the people around me were doing and the Momofuku folks did not object (at least when I was there). But running out by 7:10? Come on, that's just poor planning on their part.