Archive for March 2008

Abitino’s Pizza Enters the Burger Arena Today with the Grand Opening of City Burger

On Friday, I got word from the owners of Abitino’s (a generic take out pizza place with multiple locations in Midtown) that City Burger, their newest venture (on 39th just east of Broadway) will finally open today. As I reported in Feburary, the menu and prices are on par with GoodBurger, with the addition of pizza parlor staples like chicken wings and mozzarella sticks. Their meat will come from Pat LaFrieda, the same place the Shake Shack gets the meat for their burgers- so a comparison may be in order. Best case scenario: we finally get a shake shack burger in Midtown. Worst case scenario: another over-priced burger place crowds the the Midtown market (although they seem to have found a little hole in the Midtown landscape that is not serviced by GoodBurger, Five Guys, or The Burger Joint). Most likely middle ground: Midtown now has a fast food burger place where you can also get chicken wings. Very exciting.

I’m actually in Miami until tomorrow, so I’ll be missing out on the Grand Opening, but if you go tell us what you think in the comments. I’ll probably check it out tomorrow, and decide if the $13.50 Burger, Fries, Soda & 5 Chicken Wings combo will put an end to the $10 Midtown Lunch rule!

Related: New City Burger Will Get Meat From the Same Place As The Shake Shack

**UPDATE** 10:45 am – According to commenter DDR, the new Qdoba on 46th btw. Madison + 5th is opening up today as well.

Midtown Links (The “I Promise Next Week The Site Will Be Working Better” Edition)


Fusilli with Fresh Vegetables from Peppe Rosso in the Grand Central Food Court
Posted to the Midtown Lunch Flickr Photo Group by nycblondieandbrownie

and finally, it’s not Midtown and it’s not lunch- but I know there are some pork lover up in this piece, so I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you about the pig butchering demo I went to at the Brooklyn Kitchen on Tuesday night. For $75 I got to watch Butcher Tom Mylan (Diner, Marlow & Sons, and Bonita) take apart 1/2 of a whole berkshire pig (and then divide up the meat among the 12 of us).

A pretty amazing pre-butchering photo (head and all) for everyone but the vegetarians, after the jump… Read more »

Airing of Grievances: Yushi & the Treats Truck

With my hosting company in full meltdown mode this week, and Midtown Lunch’s server on the fritz I realize that one cannot underestimate the restorative power of venting.  If only I could have complained to somebody at my hosting company (or punched one of their employees in the face) it would have made me feel so much better.  In that spirit, I’ve decided to post two emails I received this week.  (If the Eater Complaints Dept. would like royalties, I’ll be happy to pay up…)

First up is Yushi, the upscale Japanese healthy bento place on 47th btw. Park+Lex:

Zach- I wanted to give you a rundown of today’s Yushi encounter… I know, it’s super expensive and kinda on the healthy yet measly side. But I met my boyfriend there for lunch… he got a seared salmon salad and I got a seared tuna nicoise salad. The salads were just under $10 each but with drinks I ended up plunking down $25.67 (number burned on my brain and in my credit). Grumbling at the fact that my $9.95 tuna salad only had four TINY slabs of tuna in it, I sat down, prepared to savor every last morsel of that shit.

Anyway, today they had several girls walking around with trays of samples.  Don’t know if this is a regular occurrence, but snaps for freebies. Boo and I finagled two prime beef/shiitake mini meatballs with teriyaki sauce each from one candy striper (delish and more filling than an entire $10 salad), then we were also given shot glasses of their tasty firecracker miso from another girl. All seemed well… until I noticed a third long-haired minx of an employee strolling the aisles with what appeared to be coupons in her hands. She seemed to be silently judging the inhabitants of each table she passed, while tapping the pile of coupons against her fingertips. Iactually WATCHED this girl hand coupons to table after table after table of males, explaining with a smile the complimentary miso they’d receive upon their return, yet she skipped two tables of women in between!! To add insult to injury, the chick glided past our table unfazed, offering little more than a selective sideways glance and a slight sneer. As we put on our jackets to leave, I was determined to give her the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it wasn’t blatant discrimination or an aversion to her own gender, but maybe she was planning on gifting us with a coupon at the door, or maybe she was legally blind in her left eye.

Either way, the minx was camped out near the door with her stack of discounts, so I beelined straight toward her with an inviting”where’s the candy” look on my face. Don’t you know it, but this girl smiles cattily (perhaps my over keen female sensory picked up on this?) while continuing to click the pile against her fingertips, taunting us, and said smugly, “buh bye now.” And that was it. No coupon?! No thanks for my $25.67 and ten-block trek? I’m still appalled. I knew Yushi was bourgy and too leather-laden for its own good, but this sheer disregard for me as a return customer worthy of a free cup of soup really just chafes me. Thought it pertinent that you know. And if nothing else, perhaps you find this little rant amusing.  Cheers, Profiled Midtown Lunch’er “Shauna”

I don’t find anything amusing about missing out on free stuff, Shauna.  Hope that the public display of your rant will solace you as much as that free coupon would have. 

A 100% true Treats Truck complaint/public service announcement that everyone needs to read, after the jump… Read more »

My Typical Midtown Lunch with Ralph Brennan

At the beginning of the week, I put the question out there:  Where should I take New Orleans Restaraunteur Ralph Brennan for the best sandwich in Midtown.  The owner of Bacco, Red Fish Grille and Ralph’s on the Park, and member of the famous Brennan family- who collectively own some of the best New Orleans food institutions (Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s), was in town promoting his new cookbook, and challenged me to take him out for the best sandwich in Midtown.

I love and revere New Orleans (and the Brennan’s restaurants), and didn’t want to look like an ass, so I took your suggestions and gave Ralph a choice of 5 places that in theory, could serve the best sandwich in Midtown (this way I could blame it on you guys, or even him- since in the end, he chose.)

  • Best Quintessential New York Sandwich – When in New Orleans, you eat a Po’boy.  When in New York, you gotta have a gigantic pastrami or corned beef sandwich.  For that, we would go to the newly re-opened 2nd Ave. Deli on 33rd btw. Lex+3rd.
  • Best Bread in New York City – For the best sandwich, you’ve got to have the best bread- and although it’s out of bounds to the west (47th btw. 10+11th), Sullivan St. Bakery is arguably the best in town.  And even though their sandwiches are small, they are perfectly crafted.
  • Best Burger – Ralph is a burger man, so I had to include the Burger Joint at the Parker Merdien.  He had a car service, so I even suggested we could make the trip down to the Shake Shack if he wanted to see that craziness.
  • Best Street Meat – What’s more Midtown than the carts?  And the best street meat sandwich has got to be Kwik Meal’s lamb on pita (45th & 6th), right?
  • Best Midtown Lunch – And finally, the place that started it all.  I told him if he wanted the quintessential Midtown Lunch, the place that sums up everything this site stands for (cheap, delicious, unique- and usually ethnic), then we could go to Kati Roll (39th btw. 5+6th).  That counts as a sandwich, right?

Ralph admitted he could definitely go for a big corned beef sandwich- but felt like being taken to the 2nd Ave. Deli was like eating at the Central Grocery.  I assured him that Carnegie Deli was more like the Central Grocery of NYC, but he wanted something a little more unique.  With his Executive Chef Haley Bitterman on hand to consult, they both seemed really interested in seeing what Jim Lahey was doing over at the Sullivan St. Bakery.  So we headed west, for what I billed as ”the best bread in New York”.

But in true Midtown Lunch’ing fashion, the eating did not end there… Read more »

Del Frisco’s Ends Bar Deal, R.I.P. Mr. Popeyes and more Bits & Pieces

  • Following the lead of many pizza parlors, all you can eat Indian Buffets, and food purveyors all around the country- Del Frisco’s has raised the price of the bar menu steak tips to $11.95. According to one lunch’er, they’ve also reduced the portion size. It was good while it lasted… although something tells me this had less to do with rising food prices, and more to do with crushing our souls. (Lord knows they don’t need the money.)
  • A week after being seized by the I.R.S. for non-payment of taxes, the Old Bridge Deli on 41st & Lex has re-opened. One lunch’er overheard “many of the customers joking with the sandwich makers over which one of them forgot to pay the tax bill”. Those crazy generic Midtown delis! You can close them down, but you can’t take away their sense of humor…
  • After what seems like an eternity, the Treats Truck is back this week. Today they’re at 45th & 6th, tomorrow 38th & 5th. For a complete schedule go to www.treatstruck.com

No more Mr. Popeye’s- where we should go to commemorate his life, after the jump… Read more »

Sorry about the technical difficulties…

I just wanted to quickly post and apologize for all the downtime on the site the past few days.  I think my hosting service is in full meltdown mode, and it has pretty much caused Midtown Lunch to be down or super slow for most of the past two days.  Luckily we were up long enough to get over 40 recommendations for my lunch with Ralph Brennan- which, God willing you will get to read about at some point on Wednesday.

I’ve never used this blog to vent against anybody who has personally wronged me (not counting Yolato of course), but if this keeps up, I might be forced into revealing the horrible hosting company I am currently dealing with.  (If you use them, then you know who I’m talking about, because chances are your website/email/ftp is not working either.)  Hopefully it won’t come to that.  In the meantime, I will continue to sob uncontrollably to myself, and hopefully the issue will be resolved soon…

PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Leah”

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Lunch’er for his or her “Best Lunch in Midtown” recommendations. As promised, since last week we beefed it up with the Shameless Carnivore, this week I’m profiling someone for the veggies. Meet Leah, a writer and blogger, who not only eats vegetarian, but works for an organization that is trying to help the Jewish community become more healthy and sustainable.

 Name: Leah

Age:
25

Occupation:
I work for Hazon, a Jewish environmental organization and run The Jew & The Carrot, our blog on Jews, food, and contemporary life.

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
Hazon’s offices are on 35th between 5th and 6th Avenue — within blocks of not one, but TWO H&M stores

Favorite Kind of Food:
I hate to self-define as a food snob, but stinky, artisanal cheeses and hearty farmers’ market greens like kale and mustard greens generally top my list. I also love Dagoba chocolate and most homemade baked goods — brownies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, my mom’s amazing chocolate cake

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
I stay away from anything that tastes like the sea, with the occasional exception of vegetarian sushi. And honestly, I only eat sushi so that I can snack on the pickled ginger.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: Anything vegetarian or veggie friendly. Hazon often orders in for lunch meetings from Madras Mahal (on Lex btw. 27+28th) — a tasty kosher, Indian place. I really like their Pea Paratha (bread stuffed with seasoned green peas) and Palak Paneer (cheese cubes in a pure of spinach, cream, and herbs — mmmm….heart attack)

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: Being the environmental organization that we are, my green-minded coworkers actually bring food from home on a fairly regular basis. But most days someone was too tired or rushed to get around to packing a lunch. So the three “goto” places are:

  1. Hale & Hearty Soups— You can order your lunch online without talking to anyone! Extra points for convenience, even if your soup is lukewarm and your salad looks like it went through a washing machine.
  2. Zenith (pan-Asian vegetarian on 48th & 8th) — Their food is generally decent, but some of their fake meat dishes scare me – like the “mango temptation” which features vegetarian chicken drowning in an electric-magenta sweet & sour sauce. How does it get so red?! I probably don’t want to know…
  3. Circa (kosher, sandwiches/salads on 33rd btw. Bway+5th) — It’s easy, mostly healthy, and satisfies everyone’s dietary needs on staff, regardless of how strictly they do (or don’t) follow the kosher laws. Still, it’s a bit too “corporate lunch trough” for my taste.

Place you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch: Zen Burger — thanks!

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Hazon used to be located one block from the Chelsea Market. Amazing cupcakes, Thai food, an Italian wholesale shop, Amy’s Bread, and a fruit and veg market all in one location — I dream of it still.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers?: If you know of any other kosher or vegetarian gems in the nabe, I’m all ears. Also — where (if anywhere) can I pick up a good bottle of wine to bring to friends’ apartments after work?

Considering you are on 35th btw. 5+6th, there is one Kosher place I know about that you should be eating at every single day!  Fresh baked Kosher bread goodness, after the jump… Read more »

Where Do You Take New Orleans Royalty for the Best Sandwich in Midtown?

If you have been reading this blog from the beginning than you know that I am a big fan of New Orleans.  It may seem like a natural connection (fat guy like fried seafood sandwiches, dressed with tons of mayo), but there is a little more to it than that.  My wife went to law school in New Orleans, we were married there, and I’ve gained many pounds eating my way across the city (um… ok, I guess it is a case of “fat guy likes fried seafood sandwiches”).  I live blogged the food at last year’s Jazzfest, wrote about how disappointing the New York City Jacques Imo’s was (not surprisingly, it’s closed now), and we’ve had more than one profiled Midtown Lunch’er from the Crescent City.

So, you can imagine how blown away I was when I got this email last week from Blake Killian, author of the great New Orleans food blog Blake Makes, (and part time PR dude):

I’ve been a fan and a reader for a long time. I have a random request, and wanted to know if you’d be interested. One of my clients is a big fan of yours, and he is going to be in NYC March 25-27. He’s wondering if you would be available to go to lunch on one of those days to talk about his new cookbook.

You’d be meeting with Ralph Brennan about his first cookbookThe Brennans are a very old…

Uh- you can stop right there.  Are you kidding?  The Brennans?  As in Brennan’s, the restaurant in the French Quarter- Brennans?  As in, Commander’s Palace, home of the greatest dessert ever made in the history of the universe, the Brennan’s? (It’s the bread pudding souffle, by the way).  Yeah, I think I’ve heard of them.  The weird thing is, how the hell did this guy hear about Midtown Lunch?  And a “big fan”?  It’s a mystery, and I was afraid to ask “Why?” or “Really?”, too many times, for fear he would realize he had the wrong guy!  And while I’d much prefer having lunch with the dude in his city (NYC is great, but it can’t really hold a candle to lunch in New Orleans), I guess I can play host.

But here’s where I need your help…  Ralph has challenged me to take him out for the best sandwich in Midtown- a task made all the more difficult by the fact that he is visiting from arguably the greatest sandwich city in the country.  So I’m turning the decision over to you guys.  Post in the comments where you think I should take him, and whatever you guys decide- that’s where we’ll go.  Plus- everyone who posts a comment will be entered to win a copy of his new cookbook, “Ralph Brennan’s New Orleans Seafood Cookbook”.

My initial ideas, after the jump… Read more »

At Lunch Now: Koreatown Fun


Had an errand to run at Macy’s, so where better to eat lunch than on
32nd btw. Bway & 5th. With lines out the door at Mandoo Bar and Pho 32,
we fell back on goo old standby Woorijip, which never disappoints.
People complain that prices have gone up, but all that food for $16 is
still a relative bargain…

R.I.P. Old Bridge Deli

I’ve gotten it from numerous sources that the Old Bridge Deli on Lexington & 41st has been seized by the IRS for non-payment of taxes.  Mentioned by many of our Profiled Midtown Lunch’ers as their go-to lunch, the deli was loved by few, but used by many.  She will be missed…

(Anybody have a photo of the sadness?  Email it to me at zach@midtownlunch.com or post it to the Midtown Lunch Flickr Photo Group)