In Search of an 11:30 Lunch

Remind me to write my post about alternative breakfasts.

It’s been one I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but every time I think to write it, I talk about something else.

This time, it’s something close, Inter-related, really.

Wandering the Village in a pre-food 11am morning, I was too late for an alternative breakfast, the sort of thing I might indulge in only in the pre-11 o’clock hour. Instead I was on the prowl for an 11:30 lunch.

An 11:30 lunch sounds pretty self-explanatory, but perhaps a little bit of something is required.

See, as a single-male-college-student, I don’t cook often and have groceries to cook even less often in my tiny-micro-fridge and my freezer that seems to focus more on creating melty stalactites than actual freezing things of my choice. This combined with my general dislike of the breakfast meal often causes me just to skip breakfast all-together, especially if I don’t get up till 10 on a lazy day-off. But on a skip-breakfasty day, I get hungry pretty much right-out-the-door, round 11 or a little before.

What I’m looking for then is the sort of uber-meal. A lunch so filling and delicious that it will assuage not only my hunger for lunch, but my hunger for breakfast as well; I’m looking for the meal that will banish two.

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The first place I tried for such a task was a place I’d been wanting to go since I saw them around: FoodFight.

Now, to be honest, I didn’t even know anything about this place (other than that it advertised mini-burgers) but I always like to check out new cheap-looking places, almost to a serial degree. So my 11am quest first took me here to find them… closed like they’d been for the past 2 or so months. This time though was perhaps even more frustrating since, where as before this place had been covered in construction paper, it now almost looked open. I turned to the guy sitting in front of Creperie next door to try for a consult.

“Know if this is ever open?” I asked.

He shook his head.

“Awanagah.” He said.

Which I assumes means something like no.

A shame. Though I didn’t know the quality of the restaurant yet, sliders in my mind would make an excellent 11:3o lunch, as they had atWhite Castle once, since you could order a fixed amount to start and then “re-up” as necessary.

But it was not to be.

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The Kati-Roll Company, as seen here, might have been open–but it was near impossible to tell given the profusion of St. Patrick’s Day knicknacks, shamrocks and such, covering the street in front of it and the signs leading down to the bar directly below it.

The Kati-Roll Company, for those not in the know, is an NYU-area fast-food joint that makes most of its money off Desi-hipsters and Desi-yuppie-couples who swing by the place till late hours to munch down on some pretty decent Indian fast food.

Now, this isn’t your old “Chicken Tikka Masala” you might get at Curry in a Hurry. The Kati-Roll Company is fairly faithful to its name: it sells Kati Rolls. And those Kati Rolls are somewhere between an Indian hot-dog and and an Indian burrito; beef or chicken cubes (spiced potato or pickled cheese if you’re a veggie) served up with red onion, masala spice and some tamarind sauce on a freshly made paratha (a type of flat-bread) and all rolled-up. They’re about the size of a hot-dog and two of them make a meal, one a snack. One of them will cost you about 4, two of them will cost you somewhere between 8-10. It’s generally worth it, since the rolls are yummy, relatively cheap and take a small time to make. Still when you get those two flutes of food in front of you, it can feel like a little bit of a rip-off.

And I guess it was all this that prevented me from going there. I knew that two of these Kati Rolls would not be enough to banish two meals worth of hunger and I didn’t feel like paying 13 dollars or so for three of them.

If I was going to pay that kind of money, I was going to get a real meal.

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Indian Taj is a place I’ve generally lamented for their low-quality of Indian take-out, but you can’t beat the real gump, and the real gump of it is that they’re the only Indian buffet I know of without the long walk to 6th St or the 6-train to Curry Hill. While it is not literally “15 courses”, It does include an appetizer (something fried), some tandoori chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, another entree (usually goat) and a choice of 3-4 vegtable dishes along with naan and rice and all that jazz.

For 10 bucks (Probably around 12-13 depending on what you tip), this is really a pretty good deal, especially for the sort of 11:30-ness I was pursuing. For your money, you got all you could eat of decent Indian food, which in itself was better than a lot of American with its complex flavors and variety and being able to mix curries gives me a satisfaction of sorts as you eat the whole delicious mess up with your rice and/or nan.

To tell the truth, I came real close to going here. The only thing that stopped me was, well, the manager. It was 11:18 and he shooed me off like a hobo or a ferret. At that point I felt pissy. I just wanted to go somewhere decent I could eat and I wasn’t going to wait for this douchebag who shooed me to let me in.

But this was bad. Already the hypoglycemia was setting in. I was becoming picky about where I ate, picky to a fault. I had to act quickly.

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Qdoba, which I’d eaten at airports before it came to NYC, seemed like a strictly-inferior Chipotle to me, invalidated by the Tacos El Idolo trucks which had flooded the neighborhood.

I had already foresworn Chipotle deciding that food that makes you feel that bad can’t be good for you.

This sign was enough to turn me off.

***

Finally, I gave up.

I went back at 11:28 to my old hang-out, Jane, and they took me in.

Jane is the sort of trendy-brunch spot that celebrities frequent on Sundays but during the weekday it’s mostly abandoned for lunch given its relative distance from most of the office buildings down-over in the Hudson Square area.

Over the past year-and-a-half-or-so I’ve lived down in my legally-not-a-closet apartment, I have been a semi-regular presence at Jane, going there on days I need a rejuvenation or comfort food or just a fairly effective meal to soak up a hangover. The food is just plain American, brunch fare. But still, it has the best damn Grilled Chicken sandwich for my money I’ve ever eaten.

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Grilled Chicken in two layers, Fried Red Peppers, Joe’s Dairy Mozzarella (Best in N.Y.C.) from down-the-block and homemade arugala-almond pesto to give it a bit more kick.

Oh and a mountain of Rosemary-flavored french fries, more than any sane man could eat.

This was the uber-meal I had been searching for.

It took discipline to take this picture before eating this.

I almost didn’t make it.

Till I did.

And there you have it.

***

Now, I’m not endorsing the 11:30 meal. It’s good for eating, but my breakfast-skipping has caused me trouble before, leading me to dangerous places like Johnny Rocket’s where I received a week or so of food poisoning along with my Turkey Burger with the smiley-face-ketchup drawn on it. That said, it’s a decent way to work up an appetite and the basic idea behind Brunch. So, if ye seek, ye shall find.

But that said, I used to eat A cheese-omelette, home-fries and buttered-wheat-toast from Delion every morning and that was pretty good. 🙂

And I still have a post on alternative breakfasts to write.

But till then, I’ll probably be off for another 11:30 lunch.

***

FOODFIGHT (not open yet)

Mini-burgers (presumably)

MacDougal between Bleecker and West 3rd.

ACEBDFV to West 4th.

THE KATI-ROLL COMPANY

Two Chicken Tikka Rolls- $8.50 (One for $4.75)

MacDougal between Bleecker and West 3rd.

ACEBDFV to West 4th.

INDIAN TAJ

15-or-so-course Lunch Buffet- $9.95 (plus tax and tip)

Bleecker between Macdougal and Sullivan.

ACEBDFV to West 4th.

QDOBA

Not worth mentioning.

JANE

Grilled Chicken Sandwich w/Rosemary Fries- $13

Houston St bet. Thompson and LaGuardia Pl.

1 to Houston. BDFV6 to Bway-Lafayette.

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