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I think I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again. I love food courts. What’s there not to like? It’s like 20 cheap restaurants, all under the same roof. Sure I always get the Chinese food, or the Chinese food knock off (bourbon chicken I’m looking at you)… but having the options (whether you use them or not) is great- because if you go with other people, everyone can get what they want. So when I want Chinese food (which I always do), my wife and I can go to a food court even if she doesn’t want Chinese food, because there’s other things for her to get! It’s a fool proof scheme…
There aren’t many food courts in Manhattan (you’ve gotta go to a mall in the suburbs for that), but there are a few. And one, that seems like it should be amazing, is the Grand Central Terminal Food Court. One walk through this place, and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to food court heaven. No wasted space on generic fast food joints like McDonalds or BK, and they have all the requisite food options (Chinese, Sushi, Indian, Cajun, Caribbean, BBQ, Pizza, and more.)
And yet, for a food court- with a ton of options- right in the middle of Midtown, it’s not nearly as crowded as you would think. None of the places have lines, and we didn’t have too much trouble finding a place to sit. To top it off, I get emails all the time recommending places to eat in Midtown. Very few “good” (a relative term of course) or popular places have gone unrecommended. And yet, nobody has ever recommended the food court, or singled out any of the choices in an email.
A superficial look at the options, more pictures, and a call to arms… after the jump.
How great is IKEA? Greatest place ever, right? Well, I love IKEA too- but not for the reason most people love it. Sure, the cheap furniture is nice, and building our IKEA entertainment center was probably the greatest “building” accomplishment of my life- but the real reason I love it is for the food. Seriously… the food at IKEA is awesome- and dirt cheap. (Picture of IKEA meatballs to the left is courtesy of eggrollboy on flickr )
Of course I was skeptical at first. Those signs as you walk in, encouraging you to eat Swedish meatballs in the IKEA cafe… for $3.99? I’m not eating that crap. Who eats at IKEA? Well, I will tell you who… people who spend the entire morning moving into their new apartment- but still want to take advantage of the van that is due back at U-Haul that night. So you drive out to Elizabeth NJ, and are so hungry that the IKEA Restaurant is your only option. That was the first time I ate at IKEA. The next time- our “shopping” excursion to IKEA, was just an excuse for lunch. If you’ve never tried the Swedish meatballs with gravy and lingonberries- you don’t know what your missing. And if you don’t like it- you’ve wasted $4. Not that big a gamble…
With that in mind, you can imagine my excitement when I read about the new FIKA Swedish Espresso Bar on RestaurantGirl.com… Even though they are called an espresso bar- they also have sandwiches, salads, and Swedish meatballs. How can you go wrong??? More pictures, and the +/- after the jump…
If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know I’m not a huge fan of the “Midtown Deli”. You know the place I’m talking about- salad bar, pre-made sandwiches, there’s one on every block. So when my friend Joanne emailed a link to a New Yorker article about one of these very places, I was pretty surprised. The New Yorker was writing about a Midtown Lunch deli??? I expected more from you, oh high-brow’d New Yorker…
In their defense Dishes is a little more “high brow’d” then your typical Midtown Deli, but still a deli nonetheless. The article is more about some sort of staff issue then about the food- but they did slip this intuitive observation into the opening:
“A decent midtown lunch spot—not the expense-account sort but a good, clean sandwich shop, with a fresh salad bar, and maybe some seafood tom yum, if that’s your thing—can be hard to come by. Once you find one, you tend to stick with it. You learn the hourly cycles, in terms of both customer flow (twelve-forty-five equals chaos) and servers’ shifts, and you begin to time your visits accordingly.”
True enough. Well, against my better judgement, I decided to head over to Dishes at 12:45pm yesterday and check out the chaos. I’ve walked by this place a million times (usually on my way to Oms/b) and thought it looked like an above average deli. It’s been recommended to me by a few readers- but it wasn’t until the New Yorker described it as a “a sleek, vaguely Asian-themed cafeteria”, I decided it was time for a visit… after all, I love the Asian food. Of course, I saw only “Asian”, and missed the “vaguely” part. Very important distinction.
Pictures, what I ate, and the +/- after the jump…
It’s not often a lunch place opens up in Midtown that warrants a piece in New York Magazine– so on Monday when I read about Just Salad, I figured I had to go check this out for myself. The catch is, it wasn’t in the food section, because salad is not the main draw of this lunch spot… apparently it’s a great place to meet good looking single women.
Started 2 1/2 months ago, by two twenty-somethings (Nick & Rob)- Just Salad caters to a “young, hipper crowd… in Midtown” (NYMag) looking for healthy salads, and dates for the weekend. One guy was even quoted as saying he met his current girlfriend on line there. So with camera in hand, I trekked to Lexington and 51st, fully expecting a gigantic sausage fest of dudes, fresh from reading the article, trying to score with one of the ladies in line. But much to my surprise, it was exactly as advertised. Two very handsome gentleman (the owners) standing outside welcoming everyone in, and a long line of young ladies on the inside.
Here’s where the fun started. I told the owners that I write a blog about eating in Midtown- and asked if they would mind me taking some pictures. They told me they didn’t allow pictures to be taken inside the restaurant, because of an incident that was too complicated to explain…. something about not being able to control where pictures end up, and people seeing them who shouldn’t have???
Um… we are talking about a salad place right? So, I figured it could be one of two things. Either it’s girls gone wild in there… or maybe they’re just protecting their clientele from being photographed flirting with someone other then their significant other. Very good business decision boys! So, if you’re single and looking to do a little flirting, or married and need some flirting without fear of being photographed, Just Salad is the place for you. (No idea how the food is. I’m a fat, married man- I have no need for flirting or salad.)
Just Salad, 320 Park Ave. (on 51st. St.) 212-758-8900
Deep in the heart of Midtown, there lies a gem, buried where few are willing to go… alright, maybe that’s not true- it’s just a Cosi, on 48th St. But surprisingly it’s got no sign or awning sticking out- and despite its closeness to 6th avenue you can’t even see the place until you’re right up on it. It’s pretty unassuming, and I’ve got to think alot of people don’t even know it’s there. Even when you walk in front of it, it sort of blends into the building.
I feel like everyone knows Cosi, and it’s silly to write about it- but the other day, when I returned to my desk with a Cosi sandwich, the guy next to me said “What’s that?” “Cosi” I said. “What is it, a falafel or something?”. Yes, people like this do exist. To top it off this “Hidden” Cosi is on the SE corner of 48th & 6th. Our office is on the NW corner and he hadn’t ever even *heard* of Cosi. Pretty unbelievable.
For those of you who rely on this blog for truly hidden gems, and ethnic delights- I apologize, but every once in awhile I gotta throw the normal eaters a bone. So, for those who have not been to Cosi, consider this your intro. It’s not that Cosi is that great… or everybody should know about it- but it’s better then most chain sandwich places, and they owe it all to one thing: the bread.
The bread at Cosi is delicious, and if you go during peak time (i.e. lunch) it’s about as freshly baked as you can get. After spending some time in a wood brick oven, the bread comes out, is sliced, and passed off to be stuffed with the toppings of your choosing- minutes after coming out of the oven. The bread is so good, they give out little hot free samples in a bowl that sits in front of the wood brick oven. It’s a great treat while you wait in line to order- plus there is nothing more fun then watching Midtown suits take two and three pieces of free bread out of the bowl (you know who you are people). Good times. Also, if you haven’t been to Cosi in awhile they’ve added a fresh baked wheat bread option- so now you have the choice between standard or wheat.
My special Cosi creation, a list of not so hidden locations, and the +/- after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »
If you read this blog every day, I’m sure you get the general idea of my taste. I’m not really into those delis that litter midtown with their “choice”. Choice to me is
“Do I get my combo with the pork fried rice, or lo mein?”. I consider most sandwiches kind of boring, and I never imagined I could eat a salad for lunch. That is, until I met the Variety Cafe… and I let my guard down. I allowed myself to fall in love with this Variety Cafe place, and their wonderful salad bar for fat people… only to have my heart ripped in half by their disregard for serving said salad without rodent droppings.
“I’ll never eat at a deli/salad bar place again” I said to myself (I use slashes when I talk- that’s pronounced “deli slash salad bar”), that is, until I found Cafe Duke. From the outside it looks like your typical Manhattan lunch place. The name, the decor, the salad bar, buffet by the pound, rotisserie bar, sandwiches and paninis, wraps and of course the sushi bar. But, hidden in the back left hand corner is the real gem of the place… The Korean Food station!
That’s right, Bi Bim Bap, Bulgogi and Korean soup, being served in the back of a Midtown deli. Bastards! I can feel myself falling in love all over again…
The food porn, and +/- after the jump… Continue to the rest of the post…