Archive for November 2006

What does TONY know about Pizza???

I don’t eat a ton of Pizza for lunch, so I haven’t written about too many pizza places.  In my view, it’s hard to go horribly wrong ordering a slice of pie in this city.  Sure there are better slices than others- but there aren’t too many horrible slices- even in Midtown.  And if you think that isn’t true- try living in L.A. for two years.  One of the only decent slices I had there was from a place that claimed to fly their water in twice a week from New York City… and it wasn’t even that good.  Of course, if you are crazy enough to fly your water in from another city just to make pizza, you are creating expectations that are going to be too great to overcome.  (“Really?  They flew in water from New York and it tastes like this???”) 

Well, if you are one of those people who only eats the “best” pizza this city has to offer Time Out New York has just released their Pizza issue.  Ironically enough, I was planning on writing about Two Boots today- the New Orleans/Italy (hence the “Two Boots”) pizza place with locations all over NYC (and two in Midtown)… but it wasn’t even mentioned (not even in the “Oddball” category).  Anyway, New Yorkers love arguing about what’s the best pie in the city.  In fact, the “Best Hamburger” argument that has been raging lately is probably just people who got sick of arguing about the best slice.  Rather than re-hash it all, I’ll just point out the Midtown slices worthy of Tony’s mention.

The list, after the jump…

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Goodburger

How much are you willing to pay for a hamburger and fries?  Assuming that we’re talking about a take out place (not a sit down restaurant), and the portion is decent (not humongous), but it’s made from good meat (not McDonalds).  If you are not willing to pay more than $8, stop reading now.  Don’t waste your time.  The place I’m writing about today will just infuriate you.

I was planning on going for Chinese food on Monday as my post-Thanksgiving day lunch (you’ve gotta do something to get that taste of turkey out of your mouth) but decided to stopat the newest Good Burger location on Lexington & 54th, to see what was going on.  The line was about 5 people long (and about 10 people were waiting for their food) and I had a realization…  There will never be fewer people in this place at peak lunchtime.  That’s right.  Monday, 5 days after the opening was my best shot at not having to wait forever for a burger and fries… so I decided to forgo my Chinese food and check out the newest Midtown burger place.

WARNING:  What you are about to read was not written by a burger connoisseur.  That’s right.  I said it when I wrote about Burger Joint & Prime Burger, and I’ll say it again.  I like a burger just as much as the next guy, but I don’t know if I can determine the nuances between a burger made from USDA Prime or other fancy meats.  I don’t eat McDonald’s or Burger King, but I love In N Out Burger.  I love the Burger Joint, and I’ve always wanted to go to the Shake Shack.  I’ve always thought the prices at those two places were high, but mentally I wonder if I don’t mind paying the price because one is outside in a park, and the other is tucked away in a hidden part of a fancy hotel lobby.

Goodburger doesn’t have either of these things… it’s just another fast food place in Midtown- that happens to use quality ingredients (thereby justifying the price to some).  The one thing they do have (that I complained about Prime Burger & Burger Joint NOT having) is a combo meal.  Who doesn’t love a combo meal?  It’s a price break for ordering a group of items together.  How could you not like that???  At Goodburger, the hamburger, fries and soda combo is $9.95.  So basically, they are admitting that when you combine their three basic items, it will cost you more than $10.  That’s crazy!  The price of the combo sent me into a math coma, hurriedly trying to add up different combinations of items in my mind… trying to beat the “combo system”.  Desperately trying to see if I should get the combo, or just resign myself to paying $10+ for my “fast food” burger lunch.

That being said- despite my wishing it was cheaper, I resigned myself to paying the money and decided to go for the Hamburger and Fries ala carte at a price of just over $9.00.  Pictures and the +/- after the jump…

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PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Elizabeth”

Every Tuesday I turn over Midtown Lunch to a random Midtown worker, for their favorite places to eat lunch in Midtown. This week, it’s Liz- a sales assistant for the company that owns the Food Network!  I love the Food Network… it’s like porn for fat guys.

Name: Elizabeth

Age:
24

Occupation:
Sales Assistant

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
Scripps Network (Food Network, HGTV, etc)  6th Ave. btw. 46+47th

Favorite Kind of Food:
  Too many to name, but probably Italian.

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
I pretty much like everything, although my least favorite is probably salad (or healthfood).  Editor’s Note:  If your favorite food is healthfood or salad, you are probably reading the wrong blog!

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown:  The falafel sandwich with Baba @ Bread & Olive.

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often:  Probably Bread & Olive… also Manhattan Cafe

Place you discovered on MidtownLunch.com:  Daisy May’s BBQ cart.  Also, I discovered that Variety Cafe was no longer up to health code standards, which was a good thing to know because I used to eat there a lot.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why?  Dallas, TX on Oaklawn & Maple (where I used to work).  The job was bad- but Herrera’s (great Mexican food) was right down the street.  Also New Orleans, anywhere close to Crabby Jack’s. 

 

Well Liz, in defense of Variety Cafe, there are very few places in Midtown that haven’t been shut down for health code violations… (but I understand how you feel- I haven’t been back to Variety either).  I also haven’t been back to Bread & Olive since I wrote about it in June as part of “Falafel Week“.  I’ll have to check it out soon… Also, you’ll be interested to know that the one Daisy May’s cart still in Midtown for the winter has moved again!  Find out where, plus how you can be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er- after the jump… Read more »

FIRST LOOK: Supermac & Goodburger Now Open!

After a whole weekend of turkey and stuffing I was looking forward to getting back to my normal midtown lunch of assorted ethnic foods.   Possibly a trip to Kati Roll or some Chinese food…  For lunch today, a sandwich of any kind seemed out of the question, and certainly nothing that resembles turkey will be eaten by entering my stomach for a very long time.  Unfortunately, my Chinese food plan has been ruined by two big time Midtown Lunch openings, both serving American comfort food classics:

 

Photo Courtesy of our flickr friend wwny 

Supermac has finally arrived.  I don’t know if 7th ave. btw. 28th & 29th can truly be considered Midtown, but I have a feeling that for a place that serves only Mac & Cheese, a lot of Midtown Lunch’ers will be making the trek.  (Did I mention they also have Mac & Cheese nuggets???  Holy mackerel!)  [Supermac.com courtesy of Eater]

The second opening is actually in Midtown- and may be providing a little east side competition for our good friends at the Parker Meridien Hotel…  All the info, after the jump:

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The Lunch Before Thanksgiving Post, Midtown Links & the end of the short week wrap up…

Make no mistake about it, meals on the day before Thanksgiving are very important.  There’s alot of eating to be done tomorrow- but don’t make the enormous error of starving yourself the day before in anticipation of Turkey, stuffing and all the fixins.  Starving yourself will result in a shrunken stomach, that won’t be able to take the onslaught that is surely to happen tomorrow afternoon.  The best thing you can do is stuff yourself today… stretch that stomach out as far as it will go, and tomorrow you will wake up ready to win the game!

I had a few ideas for lunch today.  The first one is obvious.  If you are geting a half day, wait until you get off and go somewhere else for a *good* lunch.  Midtown sucks.  Failing that, I think an all you can eat buffet is the perfect pre-thanksgiving day lunch.  Stuff your face, stretch that stomach out and prepare your body for the big feast tomorrow.  Here’s some of the cheap buffets in Midtown that you can “train” at:

  • Rangole, 46th btw. 5+6th, Cheap Indian
  • Arang, 32nd btw. 5+B’way, Korean & Sushi
  • Todai, 32nd btw. Mad+5th, Japanese
  • Al Baraka, 55th btw. 3+Lex, Turkish

If you need motivation, picture how disappointed your Mom will be tomorrow when you don’t have room for seconds.  Prepare yourself properly.  Godspeed.

For Midtown Links you definitely want to know about, plus a sneak peak at next week’s lunch spots- after the jump.

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PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Alex”

Every Tuesday I turn over Midtown Lunch to a random Midtown worker, for their favorite places to eat lunch in Midtown. This week, it’s Alex- a Bank Analyst who’d rather be eating lunch in Japan (or St. Marks Place!)

Name: Alex

Age:
26

Occupation:
Analyst at a Bank

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
Lex. btw. 45+46th (but our office is moving to Park and 23rd at the end of the year)

Favorite Kind of Food:
  Meat or Veg with Rice (in this order- Japanese, Chinese, Carts, Indian, Mexican Burritos).

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
Anything with Cilantro

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown:
  Bento boxes and rice balls at Cafe Zaiya.  (Although Oms/b has great looking rice balls, the Spicy Tuna rice ball at Zaiya is more tasty.)  Also, the Amish Market Proscuitto brick oven sandwich is a perfect blend of melted cheese, spinach and salty ham with a warm brick oven bun.  Finally, this sit down Japanese restaurant called Don-buri (Hamburg steak and all the different sets, light the fire in my stomach).  Plus you can have lunch there for less than $15 including tip.The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often:  Don-Buriya, however we end up eating at our desk most of the time and everyone has their own favorites… Sophie’s, Hale & Hearty, Metro, Amish Market, Hop Won & Chipotle.

Place you discovered on MidtownLunch.com:  Just Salad

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why?  Tokyo (like the previous profiled lunch’er Justin), with all the choices at the food supermarkets in the huge department stores.  You would be amazed by all the choices of ramen, yakitori, bento, sushi, donburi, appetizers, etc.  In NYC, there is no one spot for me, but I do like the mixture of flavors in and around St. Marks Place. 

Anything you’d like to add?  Although I haven’t found a burrito place better than Anna’s Taqueria in Boston, Pampano Taqueria’s Alambre Burrito is the closest thing I have tasted because of the mix of meat, rice, beans, salad, melted cheese, guacamole and sour cream.  It’s the best combo to have in a burrito- unlike Chipotle (awaiting the backlash…) where cilantro rules the flavor of everything!

I think you are pretty safe from the Chipotle backlash on this site Alex.  MidtownLunch practically began with a week-long bashing of the new Chipotle that opened up underneath my building.  I’m still searching for a good burrito as well.

How you can be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er- after the jump…

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Pumpkin Three Ways from Chiyoda Sushi

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of Thanksgiving.  Yes, I am a fat man.  Yes I love to stuff my face.  Me & Thanksgiving sound like a match made in heaven.  But as you can tell from this blog, I love ethnic food, so turkey and stuffing just don’t do it for me.  American Thanksgiving is boring.  Thankfully, America is full of immigrants, not satisfied with putting just turkey out on the table.  My step-mom cooks great Italian food- so Thanksgiving at my Dad’s includes Lasagna.  I think I would like Cuban Thanksgiving too.  One of my co-workers (who is Cuban) said they have roast pork, in addition to Turkey.  I’ve never been to a Chinese Thanksgiving, but if they had roast duck (or General Tso’s chicken) in addition to their turkey, I’d probably like that too. 

I didn’t plan on writing about Thanksgiving this week, but on Friday I found a little treat that was perfect to write about this week- and of course it was at a Japanese place.  On Friday I was walking down what is becoming one of my favorite streets to eat lunch in Midtown- 41st btw. Madison & 5th.  There are only three places, and they are all Japanese- but each place offers up it’s own distinct experience of take-out Japanese fare.  There is Yagura (a no frills supermarket with a small and cheap selection of made to order bento boxes), Cafe Zaiya (a slightly nicer, always packed bakery with pre-made bento boxes, rice balls and tons of other treats) and Chiyoda- the place I decided to pop into on Friday.

When I first found this amazing street, Cafe Zaiya was like a dream come true.  Fun, exciting and packed with tons of amazing foods at super cheap prices.  Chiyoda, in contrast,  seemed like a slightly nicer sushi place, that was trying to mimic the success of Cafe Zaiya by offering a limited selection of rice balls and bento boxes in addition to pre-made sushi.  In the past few months they have undergone a subtle makeover, and have now come into their own- offering upscale (but still inexpensive) treat, including small dishes like an avocado and salmon tartare, interesting looking Omusubi (rice balls) and an assortment of delicious looking salads, tempura, odon and more… all available to go.  But more on Chiyoda another time… this is my Thanksgiving post!

I found three delicious looking Pumpkin treats at Chiyoda… and decided they would make for a great pre-Thanksgiving post.  Check it out… after the jump:

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Fatty Egg Roll, Midtown Links & the End of the Week Wrap Up

As much as I’m embarrassed to admit it, I used to be a Grateful Dead fan in High School.  This may not be that funny to you (since you only know me as a fat guy who likes to stuff his face at lunch time), but most people who know me would be pretty surprised to hear that.  What nobody would be surprised to hear is my favorite part of going to a Dead show was these gigantor fatty egg rolls that would be sold outside beforehand.  They were huge, and stuffed fat, usually with shredded carrots and cabbage and they would give you a little packet of duck sauce so you could walk around squirting little bits into the egg roll before you took a bite.  For $3 it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve never seen them anywhere since.  Man I miss those things.  (Where have you gone strange Grateful Dead following hippie giant egg roll makers????)

Anyway, you can imagine my excitement when I walked by Aron’s Kosher Restaurant on 48th btw. 5+6th the other day and saw this outside their door:

 

 

Sure, they weren’t gigantic, and the guy selling them was some Jewish kid who was probably not a hippie.  But they had the little packets of duck sauce, and for only $1- I had to get one.

The inside of the egg roll, links to Midtown stuff you definitely want to know about and the a preview of next week’s reviews- after the jump…

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“The Floater”…. Tuck Shop Revisited

I was walking to work the other day and got handed a menu for the Tuck Shop, an Australian Meat Pie shop hidden away in an Internet Cafe that I wrote about a little over a month ago.  In the menu I saw an item that I hadn’t noticed before… “The Floater”.  Any Aussie pie of your choice, covered in pea soup made by Madeleine the Crepe Lady (a little old French lady who makes crepes in the same Internet Cafe).  It sounded like a marriage made in heaven… and with the weather starting to get gross- the perfect winter lunch.

Now, I will admit that “The Floater” is an unfortunate name.  While it may be an Australian term for a pie covered in soup- it has come to mean something far grosser in our frat boyish American culture.  (As a matter of fact, when I told one of my co-workers what I had eaten for lunch… he joked that it was also what I “would be making in a few hours”)  But you can’t blame these guys… they’re Australian!  And it’s still a catchy name, even though the heavy pie doesn’t really float in Madeleine’s hearty pea soup.

The picture of “The Floater”, after the jump…

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Margon

What can I say about this place that hasn’t already been said… Margon is a Midtown institution.  When I started this blog (and wrote about Margon neighbors Minar & Kati Roll) I got tons of emails from people telling me I should go to Margon.  For those who have been there- you know the deal.  For those who haven’t… here’s your introduction.

Margon is a “Cuban” “Restaurant”.  I put ”restaurant” in quotes because it’s not really a restaurant.  It’s more of a diner with cafeteria style ordering.  On the left is where you point to the food you want, on the right are a few cramped tables that at peak lunch hours, are always packed.  Moving from left to right along the counter… the first third is where you order the sandwiches.  If you don’t want a sandwich, ignore the crowd that gathers at the door.  Bypass the line and head inside.  The second third of the counter is for people who are ordering food to stay, and if you want to take your food to go, go to the line that forms all the way in the back- after the final third of the counter.  

I put the “Cuban” in quotes because even though the sign outside says “Cuban”, it’s actually more Dominican.  The first giveaway is the poster of the Juan Pablo Duarte in the back (one of the founders of the Dominican Republic)… but the real proof is in the Cuban Sandwich.  A delicious pressed sandwich of pork, ham, cheese, mustard and pickles- the Margon version also has salami, a strictly Dominican preparation.  While some complain that it’s not authentic, it is no less delicious!

I could write on and on… but Margon is better enjoyed by the eyes:


The sandwich press


The finished product

More food porn… and the +/- after the jump:

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