Flatiron Lunch: Mad. Sq. Mark’t is Full of Food Surprises
Wow, the hits just keep coming to Flatiron. Eataly, Hill Country Chicken, FoodParc and now, as mentioned last week, a food court at Madison Square Park’s annual marketplace. Dubbed the Mad. Sq. Mark’t by those space saving marketers, the food market draws from some of the better small restaurants around town, both local and a few that came in from Brooklyn.
There’s a lot there and a ton to be excited for except for one thing: The weather. It’s rained pretty much every day this week making for slow business for the vendors, but affording us the chance to get a better look at the various stalls without a crush of hungry shoppers looking for a bite.
I could pass through the market everyday (in fact, I did) and still not get through even a fraction of the options available, so, let’s just start with the who. Here’s the list we posted last week:
Hill Country Barbecue, Sigmund Pretzelshop, Safi Coffee, ilili, Fatty Crab & ‘Cue, Cabrito, Wafels & Dinges, Breezy Hill Orchard, Bar Suzette, Roberta’s Pizza, Resto, Piccolo Café, Stuffed Artisan Cannolis, Hill Country Restaurant, Almond, Safi Coffee, Tanjore Indian Food.
Of those, the Hill Country stand pulled out and were replaced by Pies N Thighs, the Williamburg Fried Chicken and Pie restaurant.
Pies N Thighs is not selling their famous fried chicken by the pieces, which presumably would conflict with Hill Country Chicken, who is just across the street and has basically the exact same formula. I’ve no idea if that’s by design or just due to space and cooking concerns, but so long as it keeps the peace, it’s good.
Instead, they are selling fried chicken biscuits ($6, above), handheld pies ($3), southern sides ($3) and chicken pot pies ($7, below). They also have some sweet looking molasses oatmeal cookies ($2) and Sweet Tea Lemonade ($3)
I checked them out on Wednesday, the one dry day this week, and found them a little backed up due to the sudden crowd. Due to some technical issues with the oven they’ve got the biscuits baking in, I had to trade my chicken biscuit for a piping hot chicken pot pie. I was disappointed, but the pie turned out to be very good, if small. I had a side of the baked beans and splurged over the $10 mark to get an apple fry pie for dessert.
The meal was $12 for all three items and I have to say I could still have eaten some more. Small or not, I still want to try that chicken biscuit, but be forewarned, it’s probably not going to fill you up.
In retrospect, I should have stopped in at Almond, which has a menu full of some tasty looking dishes on hand including the Pastrami sandwich ($6, above) and the Meatball hero ($8, below).
I’ve said before that meatballs are the food of the gods and I stand by that. Next time I’m down there, this hero, made with lamb cooked in spicy Moroccan harissa will be mine. They’ve also got house made jalapeño and cheese bratwurst ($7) and peel & eat shrimp cocktail ($8).
Right next to Almond is a stand by Cafe Piccolo, a Union Square area restaurant which I’d never heard of. They are serving a huge menu of items that all sound very good. I haven’t been yet, but I definitely want to give their truffled egg sandwich a try, not to mention all the panini and bruschetta available.
Resto, a Belgian-themed spot just off of Curry Hill has long been a favorite of mine for a meat-centric meal or an after work sip of some strong Trappist ales. I was really curious about the sloppy goat sandwich ($8), but they ran out by the time I stopped by.
One of the signature dishes they serve there is the Pig’s Head sandwich ($8). Using the shredded meat from the cheeks and skin, it’s the best pulled pork sandwich you’ll ever have. Topped with pickled red onions for a tang and a thick goat cheese, it’s definitely changed a bit since the original chef who came up with it, Ryan Skeen, left a couple years ago (but it’s still quite good.)
Fatty Cue, Fatty Crab and Cabrito are all under the same tent as “Fatty Crew” serving tacos, brisket, lamb shoulder and more.
At $5, the chorizo taco is pricier than I would usually pay on the street for a single taco. It doesn’t bother me when I’m at Cabrito, but outdoors in a square, it seemed excessive. That said, it’s smoky and amazing and I loved it.
As a Brooklynite, I’m psyched to see that Bushwick’s Roberta’s is here serving some of their great pizzas. Using a mobile oven, they’ve got some really interesting toppings on the personal sized pizzas available. From what I can tell, the prices aren’t quite within our range for the standard pizzas, but there are other options.
The workingman’s slice ($5) is a thick Sicilian-type slice with basil and cheese that looks pretty filling. Really though, some sopressata sounds delicious.
For those looking for Indian flavors, Tanjore is offering some interesting options.
I’ve passed Ililli a million times, but it always looked too fancy for me. For the market at least, they are serving a good deal of moderately priced middle eastern food from Armenian Markook ($6) to Pressed Chicken with Lebanese pickles. I totally want to give this a try and just looking at the menu makes me consider a splurge for lunch or dinner at the main restaurant one of these days.
The whole market is full of food surprises. Even the folks that seem like they’d have a pretty straightforward selection are getting in on the action. At the orchard stand, in addition to cider and donuts, they’ve selling Tamales.
I’ve barely scratched the surface and I just find myself wanting to go back again and again. The market goes on until October 23rd, so there’s still time to try out more of the great food available here.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Some of the best restaurant food from around town at (mostly) ML prices.
- Tons of options available.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- A lot of the items are pretty small, so even though the price is right, you aren’t necessarily getting a lot for it.
- Holy crap, how am I going to try all the food I want before the end of the month?!
Mad. Sq. Mkt. On the West Side of Madison Square Park, Open 11am to 8pm through October 23rd