Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Trio of Lunches in Forest Hills

Lunch #1: Pinang, the Malaysian/Asian fusion restaurant on Queens Blvd. Diva2 knows precious little about Malaysian cuisine, but she comes here on occasion with a friend after the movies. The friend always, always orders the Spring Roll appetizer and the Chicken Satay appetizer and announces herself as satisfied with this. Diva2 always goes for something more substantial (but safe) like Pad Thai. These are good choices all, but a little skimpy on portion size.

Therefore, I decided to check the place out at lunch to see what the Mon-Fri lunch special was like. It's priced according to the main dish and includes choice of soup (wonton or something I don't know at all, called, I believe, Tom Tam or Tom Yum) and dessert of the day. I chose Wonton Soup and Mango Chicken. In due course the chicken arrived, without the soup. I had to send the waiter back for the soup and it was undistinguished when it came; in fact, the wontons were terrible - small and hard with no filling that I could discern. The chicken dish, on the other hand, was quite tasty - hot and spicy, but not overpoweringly so, and served with a generous portion of rice, all of which was needed to absorb the sauce. The dish had lovely strips of chicken, red and green peppers, onions and mango. I never did get my so-called dessert of the day; the waiter never offered it or brought it and I was full from the main course, so I didn't really need it.

Considering that this lunch was priced at $6.50 plus tax and tip, I can't really complain. However, the waiter clearly was out of his element and the place was not full at all; I'd hate to think what would happen if the waiter had been really busy.

Verdict: Pinang is a perfectly acceptable place to stop in for a quick lunch in the area, but I don't think it is going to set the world on fire. This will be an occasional stop for me, but I won't become a regular.

Pinang Malaysian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lunch #2: Baluchi's, the Forest Hills outpost of this Indian chain, also on Queens Blvd. Baluchi's has a Mon-Fri lunch special - 50% off on any in-house item ordered. This does not apply to takeout. I find the food here to be decent, but overpriced, especially since it is all a la carte. I only go here for lunch, since 50% off makes a big difference. I opted for Goan Shrimp Curry accompanied by Rice and Raita.

The shrimp curry was a wonderful surprise: 5 big plump pieces of shrimp in a lovely sauce that was reddish in color, but not from tomato. The color must have been from the spices used as the sauce was listed as having lime and coconut milk but not tomato. It was not a hot and fiery sauce, but a sweetish one - cinnamon, perhaps? The dish went very well with the rice and raita. At half price off this came in around $10.00 - $10.50 plus tax and tip.

Verdict: Again, a perfectly acceptable place to stop in for lunch, but not for dinner, as the cost mounts up very quickly. This place was also not busy. Neither Beluchi's nor Pinang can seem to attract any kind of a crowd at lunch.

Baluchi's on Urbanspoon

Lunch #3: Corfu Grill, a Greek restaurant on Austin Street in the heart of the Forest Hills shopping area. I had been here several years ago and had ordered the falafel. It was the worst falafel I have ever eaten in my life, hard and totally undigestible, so I had written this place off after 1 visit and had never gone back. However, I keep getting good word of mouth on this, so I decided to give it another shot and check out its Mon-Fri lunch special.

For the lunch special you get a cup of soup, pita with tzatziki sauce, a choice of rice, hand-cut fries or lemon potatoes, a salad and your choice of main dish. Main dish could be Spinach Pie, Dolmades, Souvlaki, Gyro, Moussaka, etc., etc., etc. I went with Spinach Pie and I chose the Lemon Potatoes.

First came a bowl of out-of-this-world Chicken Soup, loaded with rice and chunks of carrots and tasty, tasty, tasty. My only complaint, and you are going to laugh, was the square soup bowl. My spoon kept hitting the corners of the bowl and making a racket. Diva2 Moment of Epiphany here; soup bowls are usually round for a reason. They are less noisy.

Next came the main platter with a triangle of spinach pie that was warm and flaky, three big wedges of potato, warm and soft pitas, a tangy tzatziki sauce and some Greek salad. This was all basically good, although the lemon potatoes had too much rosemary on them and no discernible lemon taste. Also, the olives on the Greek salad were mushy and straight out of a can - undistinguished to say the least. The salad was also a little soggy with too much dressing.

HOWEVER, and this is a big, big however, this whole meal was priced at $6.00 plus tax and tip. I cannot stress what a bargain this was; I had a bowl of soup and a platter loaded with food for a ridiculously low price.

Verdict: Corfu Grill is a diamond in the rough, a few misses but overall the best bang for my buck that I've encountered in weeks. The neighborhood knows it too; there were seats when I arrived at 12:30, but by the time I left every seat was taken and hungry eaters were pouring in the doors. Give this place a try; I know I will be back checking out other items on the menu. Just avoid the falafel when you go.

Corfu Grill on Urbanspoon

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