Schnitzel & Things Truck is Veal-Tastic!
Plenty has been written about the new Schnitzel & Things Truck here on Midtown Lunch since they first hit the scene a few months ago. We watched their twitter feed for the first month, tracking them all around the city- serving up their Austrian style fried cutlets to every part of the city but ours. Other blogs weighed in while we had to watch from afar waiting for them to finally make it to Midtown. It’s hard to fault the Schnitzel & Things truck though… Midtown is a tough slog, and you’ve got to be prepared. Working out all the kinks in your operation *before* attempting to serve your food to the hordes of hungry Midtown Lunchers is a sound strategy.
When they finally hit Midtown a few weeks ago, they faced the same issues all vendors face: finding a legal spot to vend where they wouldn’t be accosted by cops, businesses and other vendors. It took a little bit of time, but it seems like everything has been worked out and they’re settling into Midtown on Mondays at 52nd btw. 6+7th and Tuesdays at 48th btw. Lex+Park (although this week they have a special Tuesday spot for a Vendy Award CBS segment.)
I finally made it out last week to sample their fried cutlet goodness…
The Schnitzel & Things truck is run by three guys- two of which are chefs with culinary school backgrounds. Neither of the chefs are Austrian, but one of them spent some time in Vienna and fell in love with their schnitzel. They serve 3 different kinds of cutlets (chicken, pork and cod) and veal is offered occasionally as a special. You can order the schnitzel as a sandwich, or in a platter with two side dishes. Their menu of sides is pretty impressive for a truck (there are 6-8 options at any given time), and they have 5 homemade sauces to choose from.
The pork is the industry standard as far as I’m concerned… and their version is pretty great. Pounded super thin, so that it can be cooked quickly and not dried out, the schnitzel has a great crunchy crust- and the meat has a nice pork flavor. There are a lot of places serving “schnitzel” in Midtown, but they’re all serving the Israeli style of schnitzel (aka Kosher) so you’re talking chicken not pork. For the swine lovers of Midtown, pork schnitzel is a godsend (I’m a terrible Jew for using that word) and this version doesn’t disappoint. I love shoestring fries, so I was pretty excited with these, and the cucumber salad (which was pretty lightly dressed in a vinaigrette of some sort) provided a perfect cool contrast to the fried schnitz.
Chicken schnitzel is nothing new for Midtown, but for a lot of people I know it’s going to be the go-to choice of meats. It was my least favorite of the three I tried- but not because it’s actually inferior. I just prefer pork to chicken. If you like chicken better than pork, this will be your favorite. In other words, the same preparation yields the same delicious results. Pounded thin, crunchy exterior. Perfect. I’m not a big fan of potato salad, but the Schnitzel and Things version might just convert me. Forget about the mayo loaded crap you’re used to, their Austrian style potato salad forgoes that in favor of potatoes covered in a delicious shallot mixture. (Oh, if you’re wondering why there are fries *and* potato salad on this one… you’ll have to ask my buddy Nick who ordered it. The guy is a potato eating madman.)
Not surprisingly my favorite was the veal. Not on the regular menu, they hinted at the veal special awhile back but didn’t start offering it with any regularity until recently. Once again, it’s not cooked any differently than the others- I just prefer the taste of veal. It’s a high quality product, and on the days they do offer it they only bring a limited amount… so you have to get their early. I asked why they don’t just bring more- and the answer was two fold. 1) It’s tougher to get the good quality veal from their supplier, so it’s always a crapshoot whether or not its available, and how much they can get. 2) It’s freaking expensive… and since they only charge $10 they don’t really make any money selling the veal. They just offer it as an occasional treat to their loyal customers. (And boy what a treat it is!) I like red beets, so I was down with the beets and feta salad (although if you don’t like your beets mushy, these are probably not for you) and the sauerkraut was tasty as well.
As for sauces, if you like mayo the sauces are all tasty (all of them have it, aside from the ginger/scallion/garlic option)… but as far as I’m concerned the schnitzel is best enjoyed plain with a squirt of lemon (which they provide on every platter.) I didn’t try the cod or the bratwurst, and didn’t see what the sandwich option was all about but hey, there’s always next time!
As for the price, $9 is kind of on the expensive side for lunch (especially lunch from a truck)- but once you factor in the quality of the meat, the portion (the schnitzel is a good size- although might not be as big as some of the earlier photos posted on the internet), and the fact that you get two quality side dishes- it is completely fair. In fact, for food this good, it’s kind of steal.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I love fried meat cutlets!
- I love pork! (And most of the other Midtown schnitzel options are Kosher, so it’s only chicken)
- They pound the cutlets super thin (in the authentic Austrian style), so they don’t get dried out, and they’re perfectly cooked… and not greasy at all.
- Portions are fairly large
- The meat is a really good quality product
- The side dishes and sauces are all really well made
- Potato salad is great, even for people who don’t like potato salad
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- I don’t care how good the meat is, lunch from a truck shouldn’t cost $9
- Do you have any healthy options? Maybe something that isn’t fried?
- The beets are thoroughly… so if you liked yours roasted with a bit of firmness, you won’t like these.
- They pound the meat thin to make you feel like you’re getting a gigantic piece of meat!