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Thursday, December 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 34.0° F  Overcast
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International street food at The Local Stanley
Library Mall food cart falls short with fare
The warm weather lunch season at Library Mall food carts is coming to an end.
Credit:Linda Falkenstein

I wish I had nicer things to say about The Local Stanley, a recent addition to the roster of food carts on campus selling lunch on the Library Mall.

The Local Stanley features a limited menu of what it calls "international street food," which translates into a falafel sandwich, chicken shwarma, chicken tikka masala, a hummus and veggie platter and tacos (all $5-$6).

The falafel sandwich is, well, petite. The falafel balls themselves -- spicy deep-fried spheres of ground chickpeas -- are quite good, and arrive crispy and hot. Likewise, the accompanying tart yogurt sauce is quite good; but the hummus deep in the pita is bland. I would ask for more than one tiny cube of cucumber and chunk of tomato, too. It just felt a little light all around for the $5 price tag. The hummus platter -- same price -- has a few more vegetables, and might be a good choice for someone seeking a quick healthy lunch in the area. The food carts tend to be unkind to those watching their weight.

The chicken tikka masala ($6) served over rice was a bigger disappointment. There was plenty of chicken, but it seemed to be the same chicken prepared for the chicken shwarma, which didn't add to the marginal Indian flavor of the dish. The curry sauce was about the right color for chicken tikka masala, but it lacked any Indian flavoring. It didn't have much flavor at all, though the dish had an overall burn coming from something. The tastiest element to the entree was a dab of yogurt sauce, which made this rendition a little more fun to eat.

The chicken for the chicken shwarma and the yogurt sauce work together well for this dish; I'd again recommend that the L.C. add a few more veggies.

It's hard to recommend The Local Stanley when the same types of entrees are much better and cheaper at the nearby Mediterranean Cafe; as for Indian dishes, you'd be better served to walk the few blocks to Maharani on West Washington Avenue, and pay $2 more for an authentic all-you-can-eat Indian feast.

Of course, Maharani is a walk, and Mediterranean Cafe is a wait -- the line is out-the-door for most of the noon hour. There is, tellingly, no line at The Local Stanley.

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