Archive for December 2006

PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Jim”

Every Tuesday I profile another Midtown Lunch’er.  This week, it’s “Jim” a pizza loving Project Manager, who can’t stay away from the Yips…

Name: Jim

Senior Project Manager

Where in Midtown do you work?:
51st and Madison, TBWA/Chiat/Day advertising agency (yes, the slashes are supposed to be in there)


Favorite Kind of Food:
Hard to pin down just one, but probably rustic Italian when it’s done well.

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
Steak. I’ll probably get strung up for saying this, but a plain slab of meat has no appeal for me. Second least favorite is the $10 mediocre salad that dominates most midtown takeout places. How can lettuce cost that much?

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown:
The Jiannetto’s pizza truck on 51st and Park. One vodka slice and one regular makes a perfect lunch. Such salty tomato-ey goodness. And I enjoy asking co-workers “Who wants to hit da pizza truck wit me?” It’s a freaking truck. You’ve got to love that.  (Editor’s Note: When we first wrote about Jiannettos’ the truck on 51st just east of Park was out of commission.  It is now back, so there are two locations in Midtown again…)

The “goto” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: Yip’s. We learned about it on this site, and since then we’ve been gorging ourselves on its brown-sauce treats about three times a week. We initiate new co-workers by taking them to Yip’s, having them ask for something not on the menu, then laugh when the counter guys throw them out of the line.

Place you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch: See above.

What is your Dream Job location for lunch purposes only?: Warren, Vermont. The Warren Store has some of the finest sandwiches on earth, the coffee is fantastic, and the baked goods in general are outstanding.

I understand how you feel about Yips Jim…  I have a cheap Chinese food obsession.  Some would call it an addiction.  As a matter of fact, I went to 52nd last Monday with the full intention of eating at the Bread Market Cafe (the Plantain stuffed burrito place) and ended up getting sidetracked by Yips- and their “new menu item”.  A picture of the new item, plus how you can be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er- after the jump…

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Bread Market Cafe (and the Plantain Burrito)

It takes alot for me to eat at a Midtown Deli.  There are so many of them, and they offer so little.  They breed laziness in every Midtown worker- and if they weren’t right outside your office, you would never eat there.  Just admit it.  But, every once in awhile, one of these delis offers something extraordinary… something that sets it apart.  Variety Cafe, with their fat guy salad bar (I stopped eating there after it was closed by the health dept.), Cafe Duke and their Korean food station, or the one location of Europa Cafe with a make your own burrito bar.

Well, last week, I hit the motherload.  Not only did I find a deli with something beyond the norm- they may have invented a new and unbelievably delicious food!  The burrito, stuffed with fried plantains.  That’s right.  And the place to get it is the Bread Market Cafe (on 52nd btw. 5+6th).  A generic make your own burrito bar, distinguished by one add-on ingredient.  The sweet, fried plantain.  It makes sense if you think about it… at Margon, you eat a meat, rice, beans, and fried plantains.  Why not wrap the whole thing up in burrito form???  It’s genius.

See the pics, and the +/- after the jump….

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Chocolate Battle Royale on Broadway, Midtown Links & the End of the week wrap up…

This morning, the Hershey Store on the NW corner of 48th St. and Broadway got a little competition in the form of a gigantic two story M&M store right across the street!!! (The NE Corner of 48th & Broadway).  My question is, how will Times Square support TWO generic American brand chocolate stores, right across the street from other???  And how far are these stores willing to go for the money of slack jawed tourists amazed that there’s a place where you can a get an oversized Kit Kat sweater?  The answer to that question came on my walk home from work tonight, when I saw this in front of the M&M Store:



I know this isn’t about lunch, but this shit was too funny to ignore… That’s right.  A gigantic M&M with arms and legs beckoning tourists into the store with his general adorableness.  The M&M alone wasn’t so funny… but the Hershey Store’s response across the street was pretty sweet!  Check out the picture, after the jump:

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Chiyoda Sushi (aka more Japanese fun!!!)

Right before Thanksgiving I posted a little feature about Pumpkin dishes at Chiyoda Sushi.  As promised, here’s a full look at what has become one of my new favorite places in Midtown.  It’s located on 41st between Madison & 5th (just east of Bryant Park) right next to Cafe Zaiya- another of my favorite places.  In fact, Chiyoda is like a slightly nicer version of Cafe Zaiya, with bento boxes, pre-packaged sushi, and all sorts of little odds and ends.  It’s slightly more expensive then Zaiya, but the food is much more refined.

Some places I like to blather on and on about… and some places are best left to the pics:

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

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Two Boots (stands for what???)

I love New Orleans and it seems to come up a fair amount here on  My wife and I were married there, I’ve written about it a few times, and 3 of our Profiled: Midtown Lunch’ers mentioned it as a place they’d rather be (Liz, Elizabeth  and Nick).  But for some reason, it didn’t sink in- until recently- that Two Boots was part Cajun.  That’s right.  The NY pizza chain with the strange decor and the weird, slightly overpriced slices of pie is actually half Italian, half Cajun… hence “Two Boots” (Italy & Louisiana).

Now, I’m sure some of you “smart” “observant” people, who don’t walk around with your “head up your ass” might be saying to yourself- “Gee Zach… what are you an idiot?”  And to that I say, “Yes.  Yes I am.”  Alright, so I’m not that quick.  I’ve gotten pizza from many of the various Two Boots locations around the city, and in all that time I never really noticed the Po’Boys or Jambalaya on the menu painted on the wall… just the pizzas in the glass case.

I’m not sure who clued me into the whole “Two Boots” thing, or the fact that they have things other than pizza… but as someone who is constantly on the lookout for quality New Orleans style food, I figured it was time to give the non pizza boot a try.

What I ordered, a run down of the pizzas and the +/- after the jump…

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PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Caitlin”

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 Caitlin- a Real Estate Paralegal who loves Asian Food (and gravy… did you think I wouldn’t notice your comment yesterday?)  She also clued me in to what wiener really means…



Real Estate Paralegal/Soon-to-be Law Student

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
Grand Central Area

Favorite Kind of Food:
  Probably anything Asian would qualify… I’m a pushover for good sushi, I’m a dim sum fiend, and I could probably eat my weight in curry, bi bim bap, or lad na.  I’m from Montana, so I don’t know where the Asian hankering comes from.

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
This is a tough question, since there are few things that I categorically dislike… usually if I don’t like something, it’s because of poor preparation, not the food in question.  That being said, shrimp are icky.  I love all other (edible) crustaceans, but something about their shrimpiness just grosses me out.  That and I had to de-gut about 20 pounds of jumbos for a wedding reception once.

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown:  I have to say the basil chicken at GoodPortions (Lex btw. 39th & 40th) is at a close tie with the chicken souvlaki at The Famous Chicken Place I recently discovered on 3rd at 39th.  For a nicer place, you can’t beat the homemade pasta at Fagiolini at 39th and Lex.

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often:  Old Bridge Deli at 41st and Lex is the downfall of us all.  It’s OK food, OK prices if you know the tricks, and it’s right across the street, so it has its advantages.  Beware the “Chinese” food at the hot bar!  But their breakfast specials can’t be beat… $1.25 for a large coffee and a bagel with butter?  Shyeah!

Place you discovered on  Unfortunately, most lunching spots are a bit out of my walking range for lunchtime, but I did discover Oms/b, that oasis of portable rice and goodness.  I just might try Hurry and Tasty Curry this week.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why?  Seriously, I have to say Australia.  I haven’t been to the Tuck Shop yet, but I  am lusting for it.  I spent a semester abroad in Melbourne when I was in college, and I still find myself craving the fish curry at this little shop by the Uni hospital.  Food of the fishy gods.  Also, you can’t beat a continent that deep fries balls of mashed potatoes and sells them with gravy at walk-up shops on the street.  It’s also the best of both worlds because of its proximity to Southeast Asia… lots of Singaporian, Indonesian and Malaysian food.  And if you haven’t had a Tim Tam with a cup of Milo, you haven’t lived.. 

Anything else you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers?  I’m buying a condo soon, so I’m trying to scrimp and save as much as I can.  I’d love people to share their strategies for stretching a buck when eating out in Midtown and the places they go to do so…. Stuff like the Olive Garden trick: fill up on the free soup and salad, then take your entree to go.  You get three meals out of one!

Interesting… surprisingly I’ve never tried the “Olive Garden” trick.  The downside of that plan is you have to eat three meals from the Olive Garden.  For those willing to brave it, there is only one Olive Garden in Midtown- on Broadway btw. 47+48th.  (I’ll bet you the couple eating next to you, isn’t from New York…)

My tip for Caitlin, PLUS how you can be the next Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er… after the jump.

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Kosher Deluxe (aka the beauty of the laffa- and free salad bar!)

With nothing in mind to eat last week, I was wandering down 46h St. (btw. 5th & 6th) when I stumbled upon another one of those Kosher versions of the ubiquitous midtown deli.  Sandwiches, Salad bar, etc… but a quick look at the menu in the window, and I discovered they had Chinese food!  Now, I was brought up Jewish (a reform Jew, so we didn’t keep Kosher at all)- which means I love Chinese food (the goto meal on Sunday nights and Christmas).  But what’s Chinese food without pork (and shrimp for that matter)???  I love pork.  A lot.  As a matter of fact, with all the pork I’ve eaten in my lifetime, I was sort of surprised that an alarm didn’t go off when I walked into Kosher Deluxe.

I bypassed the salad bar and shwarma station on the right, and headed straight to the back, where they serve a variety of sandwiches, dinner type dishes and of course- the Chinese food.  The menu had most typical Americanized Chinese dishes (all served with chicken or beef)- like Lo Mein, General Chow’s, Beef or Chicken and Broccoli, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and my personal favorite- Pastrami Fried Rice, in case you had forgotten where you were.  The big problem was the price.  Almost every Chinese food item was over $12!!!! (And you didn’t even get shrimp!)  I did a quick u-turn, figuring that it wasn’t worth the money- but something caught my eye on the way out.  On the menu above the Shwarma station I saw it…. ”Shnitzel in Pita”.  Helllllllo???

Now, I’m a big fan of wiener schnitzel (german fried veal cutlets), so how could Shnitzel be bad???  I spotted some delicious looking fried stuff below the Shwarma, next to the falafel that I was betting was the Shnitzel.  I ordered it- and was not disappointed… (It is actually a misconception that wiener schnitzel is some sort of sausage- despite “wiener” being part of the name.  In German wiener actually means vealServes me right for just assuming crap.  Wiener actually means Viennese… and a traditional cutlet from Vienna is usually Veal.)

The pics, +/- and the Midtown deal of the century… after the jump.

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My Favorite Comments, Midtown Links and the end of the week wrap up…

Wednesday is the 6 month anniversary of Midtown Lunch.  That’s right… it all started on June 8th with a posting about Hing Won (naturally)- and for the past six months I have been stuffing my face at new places every single week, all for the benefit of you people.  And don’t think it’s easy.  I’m actually considering exercising for the first time in my life… and I owe it all to this blog.  (But let’s not get crazy just yet… I’m only “considering” it) Hundreds of you read the site every day, and I have to say my favorite part about doing Midtown Lunch is your comments.  Without them (and the email recommendations) it would be hard for me to find all these places to eat on my own (I do actually have a job in Midtown- and only an hour for lunch, just like the rest of you).  So, in honor of our 6 month anniversary, I’d like to share some of my favorite comments with you.  Some insightful (with great recs), some wacky, and some downright mind boggling: My first comment ever… I still remember it.  Greg from Houston wrote:

“Good writing. Like — “You talkin’ to me!””

Um… “good writing” is a stretch (I’m just a fat guy who likes to eat)- but picturing myself as Robert DeNiro in front of a mirror is downright laughable (I’m not tough, or crazy, or a cab driver… maybe a little crazy.)  I don’t remember this comment from “inane” but I actually went to this place on Tuesday and it is really good (I’ll be writing about it next week):

“I’m a fan of the Falafel at Kosher Delight on 46th btw 5th/6th. They have a very nice pickles / coleslaw salad bar to go with it. The schwarma kicks butt too, for a buck they’ll throw falafel balls on that too.”

One of my favorite blogs to read is NYCNosh.  I was so bummed when I got this comment from “Nosher” after a week of posting about Chipotle:

“You just lost another fan of the blog. The free burrito news was great the first time, but four days in a row is overkill. Good luck.”

Thankfully Nosher forgave me, and I’m pretty sure reads the blog again.  The other day I got this one from “coolice” in reference to my post about Good Burger:

“I wonder if they have fried squid burger? That would be so delicious!!!!”

I don’t even know what that means… but if they did have it I would probably order it.  Another one of my favorites was this one from “Cynthia” in response to my post about Yips, a Chinese place on 52nd:

“If you want good chinese food, hit to Chinatown instead.  They have real authentic food in chinatown which they do not substitute MSG in it.  Seafood is a great way to go as well.”

To paraphrase the readers’ comments that followed - “Thank you Captain Obvious!”.  Every tuesday I post a profile of a Midtown Lunch’er… I knew it was only a matter of time before we started getting comments like this one from James (after the jump):

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