Flatiron Lunch: Tabla’s Frankie Cart is Worth the Extra Dough
Today’s lunch spot has to be credited entirely to Blondie. As soon as it started getting warm she emailed me about meeting up to check out the outdoor cart in front of Tabla (on Madison and 24th.) Every summer since 2008, the otherwise well out of ML price range Tabla opens up a “cart” in front of the restaurant selling ‘Bombay-style’ street food for take out. Being directly across the street from Madison Square Park, it’s remarkably convenient for a quick and easy quality meal in the park without having to hit the Shake Shack line.
The other day, Blondie and I met up to see what it’s all about. Check out the food and some dessert after the jump.
The cart’s main offerings are called “frankies”, which are a variation on the kati roll- flatbread wraps where the bread is brushed with eggs, cilantro and other herbs and seasoning.
You get your choice of either lamb, chicken or vegetable and the flavors are generally similar to those you’d find at the Biryani cart and The Kati Roll Company. At $8 a pop, these are pricier than those other places, but admittedly they have better ingredients- making them worth the extra cash. Frankies are also slightly bigger than the usual kati roll, so, while I wasn’t stuffed after our meal, I was definitely satisfied.
We split the chicken and the lamb so we could each get a taste of both. Without speaking for Blondie, I think the lamb won hands down. The chicken was not particularly spicy, but well seasoned to provide plenty of flavor and filled with cilantro leaves and mushrooms vying for space with the chunks of chicken. Like other kati rolls, the sauce wasn’t quite curry, but had many of the same seasonings. Blondie was happy for a mild filling, but I could have used a little more bite.
The lamb filled my spice requirement having more heat to it than the chicken. It also had a great texture. The meat shreds like a brisket and has a slightly salty tang, almost like a lamby corned beef cooked in Indian spices. It’s magnificent.
We washed this all down with sparkling drinks that were very refreshing. I had the Pombupani, sparkling water with pomegranate juice, Blondie had Limbupani, the same but with lime juice instead. The drinks are a nice touch and a good alternative to generic soda or water that I would usually have with a meal.
While I’m not one for dessert, Blondie couldn’t walk away from the ice cream cookie sandwiches without giving it a try. I didn’t have any, but it certainly looked like an improved version of the chipwiches of
my youth. Tempting, for sure.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- The cheapest meal you’re going to get from Tabla.
- The lamb and chicken offer mild and spicy options.
- Um, Chipwich?
- Tasty, refreshing fizzy drinks
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- There are plenty of Kati rolls around town that cost less.
- If I’m in Madison Square Park, I’m going to Shake Shack. Hands down.
Tabla, 11 Madison Avenue (and 24th St.), 212-889-0667