“A food writer?” Judge Ira H. Margulis asked as I squirmed in my seat hoping not to be picked.”Well, what’s good to eat around here?” “With the exception of Dani’s House of Pizza it all stinks,” I replied. As a reward for my culinary candor both the defense attorney and the assistant district attorney deemed me fit to sit on a jury. The case was expected to take a week or less. It wound up taking 10 days.
In those 10 days I found only two things that were truly delicious. One was the dim sum at East Ocean Palace (113-09 Queens Boulevard, Forest Hills), a short walk from Queens Borough Hall. If only I’d served in Manhattan, then I could have undertaken a survey of the neighborhoods Vietnamese sandwiches, Cantonese roast meats, or eaten myself silly at Xi’an Famous Foods. Alas I was serving my time in Kew Gardens, where East Ocean Palace is the only game in town for good Chinese. The dim sum—shrimp in rice noodle, flaky pork pies, and dumplings—was quite nice, but one juror can only eat so much dim sum.
As I mentioned to Judge Margulis, Dani’s House of Pizza (81-28 Lefferts Blvd., Kew Gardens) makes some mighty nice pizza, particularly the pesto slice ($3). I was very disappointed to find them closed for lunch on Mondays. So when I returned the following day, I immediately ordered a pesto slice. I love how the oil in the pesto slightly fries patches of the crust. And the flavor of the pesto is lovely, so much so that I ordered another slice.
We were typically given an hour and a half lunch so on one day I shot over to Phayul in Jackson Heights. Much as I love this Tibetan place it’s better for a leisurely lunch. And on another day I hit up nearby La Boulangerie for a sandwich. I suppose a taco from the cart on 71st Avenue and Austin Street would also have been nice. The sad truth about jury duty at Queens Borough Hall though is that the surrounding neighborhood is practically devoid of anything good to eat. I suppose it could have been worse, I hear the area by the Jamaica courthouse is even more of a culinary wasteland.