Archive for August 2006

Oms/B

I don’t think I have to say it- but there are very few destination restaurants for lunch in Midtown.  You know what I’m talking about… the place you can recommend wholeheartedly, without any concern for how far the person will have to travel to eat the meal your endorsing. 

The truth is, I write about places to eat lunch in Midtown every week, and some I even talk about like they’re the greatest ever.  But you know, and I know- they’re not REALLY the GREATEST ever.  They’re just good for Midtown.  That’s why almost every one of my postings is qualified with “This is not the best ___________ you’ll ever have, but it’s good enough for lunch in Midtown”.  Well- finally I can say I found a “This IS the best ____________ you’ll ever have”, IT’S IN MIDTOWN- and it’s called Oms/b.  Very exciting indeed. 

But don’t get too excited…  I’m not saying EVERYBODY will like the food at this place… there will be a +/-, just like every lunch I write about- but there will be no qualifier for Oms/b.  It’s pretty simple… if you like this kind of food, for this kind of price, in this kind of atmosphere- this will be YOUR NEW FAVORITE PLACE!  Don’t work in Midtown?  Toss the kids in the car, we’re going for a ride… because if you’re into it- this place is worth the trip (and not just from 49th st & 6th ave.)

Now that I’ve totally overhyped this place- check out the pics, the menu and of course, the +/-, all after the jump…. Read more »

Brown Baggin’ It….

Somtimes it’s so crappy out, you’d rather just stay in and enjoy the simplicities of life at your desk…

THE + (What people who like this would say)

  • I like peanut butter.  I like jelly.  I like bread.  (It’s kind of a no-brainer)

THE – (What people who don’t like this would say)

  • I’m a crazy person

Late Lunch Equals Big Savings in Midtown…

 

I don’t understand the concept of a late lunch.  Some people can just work and work, and “forget” to eat lunch- only to run out for something quick late in the day.  Not me.  I’m a fat man, and nothing keeps me from eating lunch at a normal time.  It’s simple physics.  I don’t eat, I’ll pass out.  (I’ve never tested this “science”, but I’m assuming that is what would happen). 

For those who can wait until after 2pm there are definitely lunch deals to be found from places who need to move their product before they close.  A few weeks ago I wrote about Ho Yip, the cheap Chinese buffet that drops their price to $3.75/lb after 2:15pm.  This week… it’s Cucina & Co., with locations in Rock Center and the Met Life Bldg.  Thanks to “The Girl Who Ate Everything” for passing along this Midtown Lunch deal…

The details on what gets reduced, after the jump…. 

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Jiannetto’s Pizza Truck

What can I write about Pizza that hasn’t already been written? 

1.  The history? Pizza is not Italian.  At least not originally.  Started in Greece… no tomatoes… Queen Margherita… colors of the Italian flag… WWII… Italian Immigrants… Pizza Hut… 30 minutes or your pizza is free… Mexican Pizza at Taco Bell.  I covered everything right?

2.  The best pizza in New York?  I don’t even want to start that argument…

3.  Tourists visiting New York eat at the worst pizza places.  How else do you explain the existence of a Sbarro’s in Times Square?  (It still amazes me every time I walk by that place and there are people eating in there)

The list could go on and on.  The simple fact is, I’m not a pizza aficionado.  Don’t misunderstand this for pizza hate… I love pizza just as much as the next guy- I’m just not a connoisseur.  I guess some places are better then others, but I can’t really pinpoint exactly what I love and hate about each slice.  If you’re into that sort of thing, there are plenty of blogs that talk about pizza… and only pizza.

But the truth is, pizza is one of those things that has so many different varieties that trying to determine the “best pizza” is futile… because everyone likes something different.  You’ve got deep dish, thin “New York” style pizza, Sicilian, pizza with tons of toppings, pizza with no toppings, crunchy crust, floppy crust… it’s no wonder people love to argue about this crap.

Anyway, when talking about great pizza in Midtown, one name comes up all the time:   Jiannetto’s Pizza Truck.  I finally went last week to check it out, and found an amazing slice of “pizza” that will find just as many haters, as lovers.

The pictures, +/- and more… after the jump.

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Jiannetto’s & Sapporo Closed! Plus the end of the week wrap-up…

A few temporary closings to report in Midtown…

If you have been looking for the Jiannetto’s Pizza truck on Park and 51st, I found out what happened to it.  It got into an accident- and is out of commission.  The owners are looking for another truck, but say it probably won’t be back until October.  I guess trucks with built in Pizza ovens aren’t easy to come by…  Need your Sicilian slice fix? Head around the corner to the other Jiannetto’s truck, which is still on 47th btw. Park and Madison.

Continuing on this theme… Sapporo will also be closed, starting today for “repairs” (whatever that means).  I thought maybe they were pulling a “Variety Cafe“- but according to the NYC Health Website Sapporo hasn’t had an inspection since May.  Don’t worry though… it’s only ”TEMPORALLY”.  The popular ramen spot expects to be back open on September 7th.  Need a ramen fix between now and then?  Try Men Kui Tei on 56th btw. 5+6th or Menchanko-Tei with two locations (one on 55th btw. 5+6th, and one on 45th St. btw. Lex & 3rd Ave.)

Next week, I’ll have a full review of the Jiannetto’s Pizza truck (the one that didn’t get smashed up) with secret tips on how to score the much coveted arancini (Italian fried stuffed rice balls).  Speaking of rice balls, I’ll also review my new favorite place… Oms/b.  I went yesterday- but I think I need to go another 2 or 30 times before I give my official review.  Yeah… that’s it.  I **need** to go there and stuff my face a few more times… you know…  “for work”.  I do it for you people! 

As always, if you have any news, tips or recommendations- email me zach@midtownlunch.com. Have a good weekend!

Pampano Taqueria

When Chipotle opened up in the bottom of my building I spent a full week lamenting how bad Midtown (and even New York in general) had become for finding good Mexican food.  Of course, “Good Mexican food” can mean alot of things to alot of different people.  For me, it means there are a) no good burritos (hold the “cilantro and lime rice” please), and b) no good authentic tacos.

If you need an example of what I’m talking about, go to Tehuitzingo on 10th Ave. (btw. 47th & 48th) after work one night.  It’s far west, but worth the trip.  It’s a tiny bodega that happens to have a small window in the back, where these two women turn out some of the best tacos I’ve ever had.  And by “best” I mean done the way they do them on every street corner in L.A. (where I spent the two years before I moved to NYC).  Nothing fancy… just good.  Two soft corn tortillas, some delicious meat (roast pork, delicious stringy beef, stewed chicken, etc), onions, cilantro and some salsa verde on the side.  Delicious!  No hard shell tacos served from a cart with a sombrero.  No fancy rice or grilled vegetables.  The real deal.

When I wrote these things a month ago, I got a number of suggestions for good Mexican food in Midtown- and they all pointed me to the same place:  Pampano Taqueria.  It was recommended to me as a great place, with delicious tacos and burritos, in the basement of this building on 3rd Ave. btw. 49th & 50th.  With visions of Tehuitzingo East running through my head… I ventured cross town in search of some decent Midtown Mexican!

My disappointment, happy surprise, pictures, and the +/- all after the jump…

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Ranch 1 Grilled Chicken (…it’s better than you think)

I must have walked by this place a million times in the past month and a half since it opened (it’s on the same street as Rangole & Cafe Cello) but I’ve never eaten there.  Take one look, and it’s not hard to figure out why… Look at the sign.  Bright yellow, with some weird semi-chicken looking thing for a logo.  Nothing appealing at all and certainly nothing about it that says, “Hey, there’s good food in here”.  PLUS, there’s my fear of gigantic chickens- especially ones who hand out cooked pieces of themselves for free.  Very strange.

Then of course there’s the fact that it shares a space with City Cafe.  I don’t know what that is, or what their affiliation is with the other million places in Midtown with “City” or “Cafe” in their title, but if you do decide to check this place out you’ll be able to tell which part is the “City Cafe” by the generic salad bar and paninis behind the glass counter.  Go directly past that counter, the Ranch 1 part is in the back… 

In a weird role reversal, the guy who sits next to me at work actually knew about Ranch 1 (this is the same guy who thought a chicken sandwich from Cosi, was a falafel)… but seemed fairly unimpressed.  It seems to me, that many who have eaten at Ranch 1 in the past think it’s fine but don’t necessarily consider it worthy of mention.  Well, lucky for me, my wife and her co-workers were not discouraged by the sign (or the big chicken).  They went, and highly recommended it to me- and I’m here to say- give it another shot!  Or, if you’ve never been, try it for the first time.  Never having been to any of the other locations (it’s a chain that started 16 years ago next to the Late Show w/ David Letterman theater), I can only vouch for the newest location, opened last month on 46th street btw. 5th & 6th.

What I ate, the pictures and the +/- after the jump…

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The Vendy Awards

Two months from today, a bizarre and amazing event will be happening for the second straight year.  The Vendy Awards!  That’s right.  An award ceremony that singles out the best street vendors in New York City.  Last year our good friends Rolf & Wolfgang from the Hallo Berlin Cart beat out the halal cart on 53rd and 6th to take first prize.  This year should be even bigger- and we’re hoping that Midtown can take home the top prize again!

You can nominate your favorite cart for the Vendy Awards by going to http://www.streetvendor.org.  The Street Vendor Project is a non-profit that helps to protect street vendors’ legal rights, and educate vendors on how to start and maintain their businesses legally.

You can complain all you want about the food in Midtown, but if you like food carts, Midtown is a pretty sweet place to work and eat.  We’ve got some of the best (including two of the three finalists in last year’s Vendy awards!).  Check out some of the carts we’ve reviewed, plus some we’re planning on hitting up soon- after the jump…. Read more »

The Burger Joint @ Le Parker Meridien

If you have ever been on a NYC food message board, then you know that nothing gets the troops riled up more then a post about “The Best” Hamburger in New York City.  One thread, started two months ago, just got its 100th reply.  People really are crazy…  I’m not really a hamburger connoisseur- but I do enjoy a burger now and again.  I haven’t eaten at a McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy’s in years- but living in L.A. for two years, I couldn’t stay away from In ‘n Out… so I’m not anti-burger or anything, I just think the whole NYC “best burger” argument seems pretty silly.

First off, what kind of burger are you talking about?  Thick or thin? Cheap or Expensive?  If you ask me what my favorite burger place is, I would probably say In ‘n Out?  But it’s only the best when you compare it to other thin burgers… which are mostly found at fast food places.  Most people probably like thick burgers better then the thin patties… but there aren’t too many cheap, fast food places that serve the thick restaurant style burgers.  Then you have the expensive burgers… which are in a class unto themselves.  You know the ones… served at fancy restaurants, made with Kobe beef and stuffed with foie gras that cost a hundred billion dollars.  That doesn’t really appeal to me.  It’s a hamburger.  If I go to a fancy restaurant, I want a real meal.  Not a burger.  I don’t care what animal’s liver you’ve stuffed it with, and how much you massaged the cow before you ground it up… I’m not paying over $20 for a hamburger and fries.  Why stop at foie gras and truffles?  You start stuffing burgers with fried chicken or Chinese food, then you give me a call…

So in my opinion to talk about “the best” or compare burger places across genres is really useless.  If two places are right across the street from each other, and serve the same kind of burger at the same price- compare away.  In ‘n Out is better then McDonald’s.  But to compare Blue 9 Burger in the East Village to the burger at Spotted Pig is futile.  (BTW, if you are a fan of In n Out, and are ever in the East Village check out Blue 9.  It’s the closest thing to a good double double you’ll find in NYC.)

Lucky for us, when it comes to eating a hamburger, for lunch in Midtown, it doesn’t matter what you like- the choice for best burger is pretty clear and easy.  The Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien Hotel.  While I’m sure the name conjures images of some fancy burger served at an overpriced hotel restaurant with white tablecloths- here’s the best part.  It’s a dive, and it’s hidden smack dab in the middle of one of the nicest hotel lobbies in Midtown.

Pictures, the +/- and more after the jump… Read more »

End of the Week Wrap Up: Dirty Burger (or… things you might be better off not knowing)

It was certainly a big week for vermin and feces in New York.  Despite it not being in Midtown, many people wrote me this week about The Shake Shack, and how they failed their Health Inspection.  Failed is actually an understatement for what they did…  They got a 109 (anything over a 28 requires a re-inspection).  To give you an idea of how gross that is, Variety Cafe was shut down last month for scoring a 95 (and they’re not even owned by Danny Meyer.  You’d expect it in Midtown, but not the Flatiron District!)  It just goes to show that long lines don’t ensure that cooks aren’t picking their noses while they make your food.  (Ironically enough, despite Danny Meyer’s claim that running a food kiosk in a park is difficult, Tom Collichio’s ‘wichcraft in Bryant Park, scored a perfect 0 on their inspection… go figure.)

Then as if New Yorkers hadn’t suffered enough thinking about that dirty burger they waited an hour for last week in Bryant Park, Starbucks employees led a protest on Wednesday to shed light on the vermin problem plaguing many of the city’s Starbucks locations.  Both of these stories sent me back browsing one of my favorite websites:  The New York City Deparment of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Restaurant Inspection Section.  It’s like Time Out New York’s listing of Restaurants, except they’re rated by grossness.

The truth is I love this site because in most cases it doesn’t bother me.  I love to eat, and most of my favorite places are gross.  Hell, we live in a gross city, and with that comes gross restaurants.  I’m sure if Health Inspector’s came to our apartments, a lot of our kitchens would get 109′s. 

So if you’re curious like me, here’s some nice tidbits about some of my favorite places to eat lunch in Midtown.  ***SPOILER ALERT***  For those who might have their day ruined by finding out their favorite lunch spot has “plumbing that is not properly installed or maintained, anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device not provided where required and the sewage disposal system is in disrepair” stop reading now.  I’m actually scared to know what all of that means… Truthfully, some things you might almost prefer not to know… but if it doesn’t bother you- by all means continue reading after the jump… Read more »