Archive for September 2006

NYC Free Chocolate Alert, The Sky Mirror, Midtown Links…and the end of the week wrap up!

MidtownLunch is all about free stuff.  Free burrito day at Chipotle, Free Coffee Day at Starbucks, and now- it’s FREE CHOCOLATE DAY.  That’s right… because all day today, to celebrate the release of their new “Gold Collection”, Godiva will be giving away free samples at ALL their New York City locations.  This was confirmed by a salesperson (and Midtown Lunch reader!) at the location on 7th Ave. and 50th.  So we can only guarantee that location will have free samples- but supposedly they are doing it at every location.  PLUS, I think you will be able to enter a drawing for a free year of Godiva chocolate.  Here are the Godiva locations in Midtown so you can score your free sample of delicious Godiva Chocolate:

  • 745 7th Ave. (SE corner of 50th & 7th Ave.)
  • 725 5th Ave. (Trump Tower 56th St.)
  • 52 W. 50th St. (inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza)
  • Rockefeller Center Concourse
  • 200 Park Ave. (MetLife Bldg on 45th)
  • 560 Lexington Ave. (Lex & 50th)
  • 86 Grand Central Terminal
  • 1460 Broadway (Times Sq. on 41st)
  • Shops at Columbus Circle (Broadway & 59th)

In other news… have you seen the gigantic “sky mirror” in front of Rockefeller Center on 5th ave. btw. 49th & 50th?  At first I thought it was sort of stupid… but now I’m really into it.  The photo possibilities are endless, and it seems like everyone is getting in on the act.   I sort of felt left out… so here’s the Midtown Lunch version of the Sky Mirror photo:

 

Looks like the same pics you’ve seen on flickr, right?  What you don’t realize is, I’m in the upper right hand corner with the red shirt eating one of my favorite Midtown Lunches.  I’ll give you a hint… I can hold it in one hand (my camera is in the other), and I got it at 54th & 5th ave.

A picture of what I was stuffing my face with in front of the sky mirror, plus “Midtown Links” to all the stuff you definitely want to know about… and it’s all after the jump. Read more »

Burritoville

It’s been a few months since I last ate at Chipotle, and the craving for a burrito is back in full force.  “I could really use a burrito.  I’m sure Chipotle is not as bad as I remember it!  Look at the gigantic lines!  Everybody loves Chipotle… i’m sure it will be delicious!”  Luckily my original post serves as a reminder of how I feel (“Free Chipotle is the only good Chipotle“), and I decided instead to hit up Burritoville with a friend from work.

I tried Burritoville once before (the one on 9th ave.), when I first moved here from L.A.  Seeking a substitute for the burritos I could get on the west coast, I knew I wasn’t going to replace the real deal authentic burritos- but I was at least hoping to find a replacement for Baja Fresh (My go-to work lunch in L.A.  There was one across the street from my office, and I probably ate there 2-3 times a week). 

At the one on 9th ave. I got the “Holy Mole” burrito, and was pretty underwhelmed.  It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great.  I probably should have known that I wasn’t going to get a great mole from a place that felt the need to add funny names to their burritos.  I remember thinking “This place isn’t that bad.  I probably am disappointed because I just moved here, and I’m used to the good stuff.”

With that in mind, I returned to Burritoville- hoping to find a Chipotle substitute for when my Burrito addiction rears it’s ugly head.  Pictures, and the +/- after the jump…

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Jacques-Imo’s To Geaux

Live Crawfish, French Quarter, New OrleansI remember when my wife was deciding where to go to Law School.  She had been accepted into a few different schools, and it was between Tulane and some other places.  I can’t remember the other ones, because the choice seemed pretty clear to me-  go to New Orleans.  I remember saying “When are you going to have another opportunity to go, and live somewhere as cool as New Orleans for three years of your life”.  The truth is, I had no idea what I was talking about.  I had never been there, and didn’t really know anything about the place… but as luck would have it, I ended up being right. 

We both ended up falling in love with the city, and got married there when she graduated in May of last year.  I’d like to say it was the rich culture and history of the city, the awesome music, the great people, or the beautiful scenery that made us want to get married there.  But everyone who knows us, knows the truth… it was the food.  I visited as often as I could, and when I did, we ate our way across the amazing city like there was no tomorrow. 

Raw oysters and boiled crawfish at Harbor Seafood (in Kenner) , The Roast Duck Po’Boy at Crabby Jack’s, Fried Chicken at Dunbar’s (the greatest fried chicken I’ve ever eaten), Raw Oysters at Casamento’s, the unbelievable Bread Pudding Souffle at Commander’s Palace (that you have to order at the beginning of the meal), Beignets at Cafe Du Monde, Coffee at Rue de la Course, a muffallatta at the Central Grocery, Chocolate Pecan Pie at Camellia Grill, great meals at Dick & Jenny’s, Clancy’s, Upperline, LiletteEmeril’sBayona, and the awesome Valentine’s Day Dinner 2003 at Jacques-Imo’s.

The Real Jaques-Imo's in New OrleansI mention that one last because when we moved to NYC, we were incredibly excited to hear that there was a Jacques-Imo’s on the Upper West Side.  And while the restaurant isn’t owned by Jacques (according to the website they “licensed the concept”), they serve his famous fried chicken.   The food is not terrible, but it’s more like a frat boy sports bar then anything that resembles the culinary destination that is the real Jacques-Imo’s.  Despite being disappointed by the dinner at the UWS restaurant, we still decided to try Jacques-Imo’s To Geaux (get it?) in the Grand Central Terminal Food Court.  We figured, how hard can it be to make fried chicken and a decent po’boy? (Especially when you don’t have to worry about losing points because of the decor…)

What we got, pictures, and the +/- after the jump…

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PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Nick”

If you think eating lunch in Midtown is bad, imagine moving here from the greatest food city in the U.S.A. Whether it’s a Mufuletta from the Central Grocery, Fried Chicken from Dunbars (sadly they haven’t re-opened yet), or a dozen raw oysters and a pound of boiled crawfish (from anywhere!)- imagine how much sadder you’d be if you used to eat lunch every day in New Orleans. In honor of the Saints’ triumphant return to the Superdome last night, we present to you this week’s profile… Midtown Lunch’er: Nick

Name: Nick

Age:
The same age as my twin sister

Occupation:
Radio Imaging Producer

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
Sirius Satellite Radio on 49th & 6th

Favorite Kind of Food:
I was born and raised in New Orleans, so- boiled crawfish, red beans & rice, PoBoys (fried oyster, roast beef, fried shrimp, etc…). You know… New Orleans food!
Least Favorite Kind of Food: Not a fan of Indian food. Some of the dishes smell like stinky armpits so I’m immediately reminded of uncomfortable situations while riding the subway into work.

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown: I usually end up at Lenny’s a couple of times a week. Fresh ingredients, made to order pretty fast, and a wide selection. Plus I have a crush on one of the cashiers.

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: See above. I often run into my boss and others at Lenny’s without notice. We all have to run back to work to produce the “Best Radio on Radio” so it seems to be the place to get to easily and get a fresh sandwich that I can eat at my desk or in the studio.

Place you discovered on MidtownLunch.com: The Daisy May’s BBQ Cart (yummy!), the Burger Joint @ Le Parker Meridien (delicious!), and I’m sure as soon as it opens- The Hawaiian Tropic Zone on 49th & 7th. I’m sure it will be a ridiculously over-priced tourist trap, but hey- you’re paying for the scenery.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Um… I think it’s pretty obvious. The radio station I used to work at in New Orleans was blocks away from anything I could ever want- including real Red Beans & Rice. Notice the placement of the red beans, before the rice… the beans are the star people! Don’t understand why restaurants outside of N.O. can’t get that right.

Anything else you’d like to add? Make levees not war! And I’d love to know where to get authentic New Orleans lunch in Midtown, or New Orleans food anytime, anywhere in NYC- that isn’t an overpriced novelty restaurant.

Our half-hearted recommendation to Nick, a New Orleans Food P.S.A., and how to become the next Profiled Midtown Lunch’er- after the jump…

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Grand Central Terminal Food Court

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.

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Hawaiian Tropic, 7 Square, Midtown Links and the end of the week wrap up…

I’ve received a lot of emails asking me to recommend nicer restaurants in Midtown for client lunches, and even client dinners.  Clearly these people haven’t read my thoughts on all you can eat buffets, and not wanting to spend $12 on a hamburger lunch.  I’m clearly not going to any fancy lunches… and lord knows the company I work for would never trust me with anything resembling a client.  But there is a lot written about Midtown eating, so- every Friday I will start posting info and links abuot places and news in Midtown that you might be interested in….

The brand new Hawaiian Tropic Zone had it’s grand opening party/fashion show/close down 7th ave. because there are girls sitting on beach chairs in the sand and everybody wants to stop and take pictures, gala event.  If you haven’t heard about this new place, think Hooters meets Ruby Foo’s.  From the looks of the picture above, it seems like Chef David Burke’s menu is clearly going to be the main draw.  New York Times  reported that they were opening to the public yesterday, and Eater claims September 30th.  We’ve heard it’s actually October 2nd.  Mark your calendars boys!

If you are looking for an expensive lunch, and your client is not interested in waitresses in bikinis, one avenue away, 7 Square actually did open yesterday.  As you can see the crowds weren’t as large as the Hawaiian Tropic Zone (maybe they should re-think the whole ‘no watiresses with bikinis’ thing).  Described as an “American Chophouse“, the lunch menu and dinner menu are pretty much the same, with a few lunch-y items during the day, like the 7 Square Hamburger ($13) and the Niman Ranch Hanger Steak Sandwich ($18).  http://www.7squareny.com

But wait there’s more- Midtown Links to stuff you’re going to want to know- after the jump…

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Prime Burger (and the Battle Between Boss & Blogs)

My boss is constantly asking me where he can get a good burger in Midtown.  He knows I write this blog, and he thinks I have some sort of insight- but the truth is, he has been working in this area a lot longer then I have- so I’m pretty useless.

The conversation usually goes like this. 

Me: “Why don’t you just go to the Burger Joint

Boss: “So great… but I’m not waiting on that line.”

Me:  “How about Burger Heaven”

Boss: “I don’t remember that place being that good.”

Me:  “What about Prime Burger”

Boss:  “That place is terrible… although it’s worth it just to go for the seats in the front”

Terrible is some strong words… especially for a place that has so many fans.  In fact, just this week I read two blog postings raving about how good Prime Burger was, one on Plate of the Day, and the other was on Gastro Chic (via Eater).  I decided to ignore my boss’ warning, and check the place out for myself.

How bad could it be?  After all, Gastro Chic goes out of her way to eat there “even if it’s raining” and Plate of the Day went out of his way to mention that one of his “coworkers is an avid burger fan and she’s tried burgers all throughout the city and gave Prime Burger a thumbs up.”  That sounds promising… how can you argue with an “avid burger fan”???

So, with the battle between blogs and boss all set- I ventured with one of my co-workers (not particularly an “avid” fan of burgers… but he was down with the trip) to Prime Burger to see who was right.

The battle of epic proportions… after the jump.

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PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Harry”

By now I figure you might be sick of hearing my opinions about places to eat lunch…  so, for a new point of view, enjoy our new feature PROFILE: MIDTOWN LUNCH’ER.  Every week we’ll profile another Midtown Lunch Eater, where they work and what their favorite places to eat are.  Enjoy!

Name:  Harry

Age:
  29

Occupation:
  Freelance Lighting Guy (and co-owner of the soon to be open store The Brooklyn Kitchen)

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
  Wherever they pay me to be

Favorite Kind of Food:
Fresh, unless it’s pickled or preserved

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
  Stale and Old

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown:  If I’m working in Koreatown, I’ll eat at Han Bat (35th btw. 5th & 6th).   If I’m on the west side of Midtown, it’s Manganaro’s Italian Grocery (9th Ave. btw. 37th & 38th) or the soup at Amy’s Bread (6th Ave. btw. 46+47th).  But my all time favorite is the place on 9th ave. with the sign that says “Toss your own salad, $5.99″

Favorite place you read about on MidtownLunch.com:  Hurry & Tasty Curry

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why?  It would be across the street from Peter Luger’s, 40 years ago when Mr. Forman bought it.

Want to be next week's profiled Midtown Lunch'er?  Follow the jump to find out how...

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Maharaja (aka Hurry & Tasty Curry)

I had lunch for the first time at Maharaja the other day, an Indian dive on 45th st. btw. Lexington & 3rd.  Maharaja, you say?  I’ve walked down that street many times and never seen a place called Maharaja… Well, that’s because the awning doesn’t say Maharaja.  That’s not memorable… and it’s a little too “nice” a name- especially for a dive like this.  I don’t care what the take out menu says, I’ve always called it by the name on the awning- “Hurry and Tasty Curry”. 

How could you not?  It’s a perfect name for this place.  Say what you want about grammar, reading the name, you understand what kind of restaurant it is.  During lunch, the food is all in steam plates, so it’s “hurry”, and a lot of the food is pretty tasty (I’m not going to vouch for all of it).  Maybe it was meant to be “Hurry and Taste THE Curry” but the guy who made the sign heard them wrong.  To add to the confusion, Menupages has two listings for the place, at the same address (133 E. 45th St.), Maharaja (which gets four stars) and Hurry & Tasty Curry (which gets 3 1/2 stars).  As far as I can tell, the owners of Hurry & Tasty Curry used to own an Indian restaurant on 44th St. called Maharaja (which was half a star better then the only place they own now- which is on 45th St. and has a giant awning that say Hurry & Tasty Curry). 

Who knows… but either way the sign says everything you could ever need to know about this place.  It’s fast, tasty and it is clearly authentic (because these people are too busy making good Indian food to care about English grammar).

What they’ve got, pictures and the +/- after the jump…

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FIKA Swedish Espresso Bar

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…

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