Jackson Diner: Next Stop Greenwich Village
Another invented oddity was "humus with garlic naan" ($6). Actually, this rejiggering was a good idea, because the perfect garlic naan turned out by the restaurant tasted great with the doctrinaire hummus. Hey, who doesn't enjoy eating an invented dish now and again?
Here are some of the other things a friend and I tried: a lacha paratha (multi-layered bread, $3) that was not buttery or moist enough, and a chicken vindaloo that was spicy and delicious, though made with boring skinless chicken breast. It came with perfect basmati rice dotted with ... frozen peas. Oh well.
The only dish we really hated, among several that were promising, was sarson ka saag (mustard greens, $10). The pureed green had a strange chemical taste, something like polyethylene. I wracked my brain trying to figure out what the taste could be, then it dawned on me as I tasted the leftovers when I got home: mustard oil that hadn't been heated to smoking before it was used. Maybe not, but that's what it tasted like to me. Possibly it was the result of cooks unfamiliar with oil's properties -- it's often used as furniture polish.
Oh, and the mustard greens were not served with the usual accompaniment, a cornmeal-based flatbread called makki roti. Maybe the proprietors thought no one would notice the omission.
The verdict: Much of the food was good, and not too expensive. This place is worth watching, despite early gaps in service and dish execution.
72 University Place
Jackson Diner (original)
37-47 74th Street
Jackson Heights, Queens