PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “James Oliver Cury”

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown.  I’m pretty excited about this weeks lunch’er.  Meet James Oliver Cury, the Executive Editor of a sushi lover who isn’t above eating at Cafe Manhattan (when he’s not supping at the Conde Nast Cafeteria).

Name: James Oliver Cury


Executive Editor of

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
Condenet, Manhattan

Favorite Kind of Food:
My wife’s Polish chicken matzo ball soup

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
Cottage cheese (I don’t like the look or sound of it)

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown:
Whatever the chef recommends at Sushi Yasuda—usually including a comparison of two types of the same fish (tuna, yellowtail, etc.)

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: Café Manhattan (on 45th btw. 5+6th) is just down the block and has enough diversity to keep me interested (salad bar, sushi, pizza, prepared entrees, sandwiches) and enough turnover (massive crowds) to convince me that everything’s fresh. I always prepare a salad with Brussels Sprouts, caramelized cauliflower, tomatoes, olives, string beans, and some protein (salmon, chicken, beef). I take friends and colleagues (writers mostly) to The Conde Nast Cafeteria because it’s nearby and it’s cool inside—like being inside some sci-fi movie set. Selection isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as at the new Hearst Building where my wife works. I never see anyone famous so I must be going at the wrong time.

Place you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch:
$10 lunch at Utsav. I’d only been here for giant banquets in the past and always ate too much. Now I don’t have to consume three apps, four entrees and five sides in one meal. The samosas are delicious.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why?
Prince and Mott would allow me to be near some terrific quick-and-cheap spots like Café Habana, Cafe Gitane, Rice, Ruby’s, Ray’s Pizza (the original original), Bread, Soho Park, and Caffe Falai.

Cafe Mahattan seems to be a favorite go-to for many Midtown Lunch’ers.  I’ve never eaten there, but I’ve walked in and out many times- and contemplated getting the stuffed focaccia back by the pizza station, which came highly recommended.  I also am really into caramelized cauliflower right now, so that sounds pretty good too.

My favorite cauliflower in New York City, after the jump…

Photo Courtesy of

The cauliflower pizza at Grandaisy or Sullivan St. Bakery (they’re both made from practically the same recipe, although the Sullivan St. Bakery version is spicy).  In a close second (but only because I haven’t actually gotten to try it yet) is the Cauliflower at Momofuku Ssam Bar (it looks ridiculously good).

I used to hate cauliflower, but after having this sandwich in Vancouver a few months ago, I’ve been on a fried/caramelized/roasted cauliflower kick.  Though probably not  enough to eat at Cafe Manhattan!

As always, if you want to be the next Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or you’d like to invite me to the Hearst Bldg. Cafeteria!), email me at


  • you should check out the cauliflower at both bellavitae (village) and provence (soho). you’ll never look at the ugly vegatable the same way.

  • Cafe Manhattan is my go-to place when i want a salad bar lunch. A bit closer and nearly half the price of Dishes, always a solid (though not amazing) selection of food. I have yet to try focaccia or anything else there, though maybe I should.

    And your wife’s soup sounds intriguing. I grew up on my grandmother’s matzah ball soup, but never had it with chicken before.

  • the focaccia is a pretty solid choice, great portion, decent price, always satisfying

  • @Matt – Never had Matzoh ball soup with chicken? What did your grandmother do with the whole chicken you have to boil to make the broth???

  • Zach – We ate it for our main course

  • mmm…cauliflower! not in midtown lunch range, but i highly recommend the carmelized version at Alta in the village with chorizo, clams, and raisins.

  • Is this the same James Curry who did Playboy’s Guide to Planning a Bachelor Party? If so, that’s very cool…

  • ksh – If you’re going to Alta, you better be getting the brussel sprouts, they’re incredible.

  • thanks for the tip matt! am usually wooed by the cauliflower but can be open to courting multiple cabbage varieties in a single sitting….

  • those glasses are too cool for school.

  • The roasted cauliflower at Maoz on East 17th on Union Square is amazing. That’s the first thing I always add to my falafel….

  • The cauliflower at Momofuku Ssam is all that and more. I’m shocked you haven’t eaten it yet, Zach.

  • Zach, did you finally get your invite to Conde’s cafeteria??

  • Chinese Mirch on 28th & Lex makes a wicked, dry “Gobi Manchurian” appetizer – cauliflower fleurettes that seem to be thinly battered (tempura-looking) and then seasoned with mildly hot, flavorful spices. They’re salty, slightly crunchy, and most importantly, not drowned in any kind of a sauce (it’s served on the side). I’ve never tried it as take-out, but I have a hard time believing it would have the same impact after steaming for 20 minutes in a styrofoam container while walking back to work. I suppose you could yank it out of the bag and eat it out of your coat pocket while shivering up the street.

  • hey there can be only 1 Matt here, and 1:55pm you’re not him!

  • i am not him either

  • The best cauliflower dish ever is Gobi Honey Garlic at Copper Chimney or 28th.

  • Yes, I used to work at and I wrote the “Playboy Guide to Bachelor Parties” (Simon & Schuster, 2003). A good midtown lunch ain’t easy to find on Fifth Ave and 56th Street either.

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