Archive for March 2008

Midtown Links (The I Don’t have to work on Easter Edition)

At Lunch Now: Drowning Your Sorrows in Street Meat

Cheap steam table chinese food is what I normally treat myself to when
I’m having a tough day at work, but today felt more like a street meat
kind of day. Currently consoling myself with a platter of chicken and
lamb over rice from the cart on the SE corner of 53rd & 6th. For $5 is
there a more soothingly masochistic lunch in all of midtown?

I Want to Be in the Fat Pack!

An interesting article was printed in the New York Times yesterday discussing the trend of proudly fat food writers and bloggers, some of whom have come to realize that their lifestyle is becoming dangerous to their health.  On one side, there are the “adults”, trying to balance their profession with unbridled love of food- heroes and good friends of Midtown Lunch like Ed Levine from Serious Eats, and Jason Perlow from Off the Broiler.  On the other side, you had your unrepentant fat guys like Josh “Cutlets” Ozersky from Grub St. & Seven Shaw from eGullet, unwilling to sacrifice one bit of their daily intake of burgers and pork fat.

As you can imagine, this article hit pretty close to home.  Can you guess which side of the argument I fall on?  The piece probably should have been a wake up call for me, a realization that there are others in the same predicament, who are working to balance being healthy with their love of chicharrones, for example.  Instead, I found myself thinking, “Why aren’t I in the fat pack?”  Like Ralph Wiggum wanting to attend “Bovine University” after watching the Beef Council video, I was left to wonder why nobody called me for this article.  I mean, what am I doing here people???  If eating disgusting lunches in Midtown can’t get you mentioned in an article about fat people who write blogs, I must be doing something wrong.  Am I not fat enough?  Do I need to start eating more?  Because, I can…

I admit that I’m not a tall man, and nobody would accuse me of having a “ex-football player” body (it’s more like an “ex-debate team member who ate too many doughnuts sold by the football players to pay for their jerseys” kind of body).  But I humbly ask that you allow me to join your club anyway.  I promise, I can do better.

At Lunch Now: Free Food Craziness at Sophie’s Cuban (Updated)

You didn’t think a little rain would keep us cheapos away, did you? It’s 12:01 and the line is already stretched down the block at the newly opened Sophie’s Cuban on 40th btw. 7+8th… but it moves quickly. And they even have oxtails.The inside crowd, what I got, plus the ultimate Sophie’s surprise (for anybody who didn’t take their food to go), after the jump…

Read more »

Scotland Week to Bring Haggis Street Cart to Midtown

According to the Citysearch Blog there will be:

free haggis “hot dogs” from a temporary street cart near Times Square [as part of] Scotland Week… at the corner of 52nd Street and Broadway (near the Continental Airlines billboard), April 4th and 5th, 11am to 5pm.

Mark it on your calendars kids… stuffed intestines = good.  Free stuffed intestines = Midtown Lunch pandemonium!  [Scotland Week via Citysearch Blog]

Free Food Alert: Sophie’s Cuban on 40th Finally Opening

Disclaimer: This is not live.
Photo from Sophie’s 56th St. Grand Opening, March 2007

Just got word that the Sophie’s Cuban on 40th btw. 7+8th (that we’ve been waiting for since April of Last year!) will have its customary, pre-grand opening “Free Food Day”, tomorrow- Wednesday March 19th.  The restaurant won’t actually be ready to go until late tomorrow afternoon, but they will be bringing in tons of food from their other locations to feed the hordes.

They expect to be ready to go at 11:30am, and will serve a limited menu of free food until it all runs out (they plan on making it until late afternoon, but with Con-Ed still being a question mark, and the food coming from another location, they cannot be positive).    

Unlike the perfect weather at their last grand opening, which made for long lines, tomorrow is looking to be rainy, meaning us die hard free food/Sophie’s fans should be in good shape.  (On the other hand it’s a very short walk from the New York Times building, and we all know how well journalists are paid… so it could be a long lunch.)

What “free food day” got you last March on 56th St., after the jump… Read more »

PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Scott ‘The Shameless Carnivore’ Gold” (& Book Giveaway)

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. Today I welcome Scott Gold, author of the new book “The Shameless Carnivore”, a must read for any meat lover looking to justify their animalistic cravings.  Sorry Vegetarians, next week’s profile will be for you…  (wait- what am I apologizing for!  Scott, I’m sorry.  I clearly need to spend more time studying your almighty teachings.) 

 Name: Scott Gold, The Shameless Carnivore


Author, blogger, musician, lover of all things meaty and delicious.

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
I live and work in Brooklyn, but for years I worked in Midtown, and I’m often up that way to meet with my publishing team at the Random House building on 55th and Broadway.

Favorite Kind of Food:
Everything, but particularly (and obviously) most any dish involving meat. For the book, I attempted to eat 31 different animals in the span of a month, from beef, chicken, pork and turkey to yak, squirrel, llama and rattlesnake. You name it. As far as personal favorites, I have to say that I’m hopelessly addicted to my hometown cuisine (I’m from New Orleans), especially red beans and rice with sausage, jambalaya, and po-boys.

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
In all seriousness: Tofu. Blech. I’ve heard that really well prepared, aged bean curd prepared in the authentic Japanese way is something wonderful to taste, but I’m not buying it. In my experience — and I’ve tried it numerous times — it just tastes like slimy lumps of bland nonsense to me.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: I’ve long been a huge fan of the streetcorner halal carts — I’ll just have them load that styrofoam dish up with whatever they’ve got, usually lamb, chicken or turkey (and on a good day a combination of these), rice, vegetables and salad, dress it with some hot sauce, bring it back to the office and go to town. Marvelous. When I was working near Columbus Circle, I fell in love with this tiny little deli on 57th St. between 7th and Broadway, called the Crystal Cafe. They make some really wonderful sandwiches there, which is what I truly adore about living in NYC: the delis. There are so many good ones that the ability to compete in the sandwich-to-order game has become something akin to nuclear weapons proliferation, only in this case the weapons are lovingly crafted sandwiches of fierce deliciousness. At Crystal Cafe, one of their specialties is rare (read: red and a little bloody..mmmmm…) roast beef, sliced thinly and piled high on a Portuguese roll with lettuce, tomato, and a squirt of horseradish sauce. And naturally I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Shake Shack (is that considered mid-town?). I don’t know whether or not they use actual magic to make those hamburgers, but there’s definitely something supernatural going on in that little kitchen. Maybe they’re hiding a genie down there? A leprechaun? Why else would I — or anyone else — spend an entire lunch break waiting in line for a burger? (Sorry Scott. Shake Shack isn’t in Midtown… although with their new advanced ordering system, I’m contemplating a subway lunch trip. -zach)

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: For some reason, when I was working in the 30′s near the Empire State Building, we’d always tend to wind up at Benny’s Burritos. I think it has something to do with the fact that their mascot is a sock monkey. Who knows? But when we were feeling like spending just a little more dough, we’d treat ourselves to a tongue or pastrami sandwich from Mendy’s. Which was great, not just for the great kosher fare, but also because we’d get to quote Kenny Banya from Seinfeld: “Mendy’s, Jerry! You owe me another dinner at Mendy’s!”

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Wow, that’s a tough question. Yikes. Lunch is my favorite meal of the day, so let me give this a little thought… Okay, now that I’ve treated this inquiry with all the seriousness it deserves, I have to say: downtown New Orleans. It’s like the “perfect storm” of eateries, everything from fine dining to open air markets, “Lucky Dog” carts and oyster shacks. But New York is an easy second.

Well, I don’t think I’m going to agree with you on the tofu.  Not only have I had delicious Vegetarian food, but more importantly than that, Vegetarians can be a very scary bunch, and I don’t want to anger them.  I do, however, have to back you up on the New Orleans thing. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world (heck, I was married there), and has some of the best food ever.

Now onto the meat! To enter to win the book, and read about Scott’s quest to eat 31 different animals in a month, just post your favorite Midtown meat dish (and location) in the comments… if you are a vegetarian and interested in reading the book, just post something clever. Winner will be drawn at random.

My favorite Midtown meat, after the jump… Read more »

First Fiamma, Now Spice Fusion Follows Accolades With Price Hike


What is it with the trend of restaurants raising their prices after getting high praise from powerful reviewers!?!  Following in Fiamma’s footsteps (they raised their price fixe menu from $75 to $95 after a 3 star review from the New York Times), Spice Fusion on 8th Ave. btw. 47+48th has raised the price of their all you can eat buffet from $9.99 to $10.99 within months of receiving a glowing Midtown Lunch review and being declared Best Indian Buffet in the 2008 Midtown Lunch readers poll!

While incredibly disappointing, it’s not exactly surprising. I recently voiced my fear that Spice Fusion would follow in the footsteps of Curry Dream & Al Baraka (now Kanaat), two buffets who have both raised their prices from $9.99 to $10.99 since the new year

I have managed to resist going into an all out panic, despite reading how the cost of flour was sending pizza prices through the roof , and the article in Saturday’s New York Times about how all food stuffs have seen price increases over the past year.  But now that it is clearly having an effect on all you can eat buffets, I’m paying attention!  (You didn’t really think they raised prices because of Midtown Lunch, did you?)  

The real question is what kind of a world do we live in when you can’t stuff your face with unlimited amounts of food, for under $10. 

With the stroke of a pen, and the resulting blog coverage, Fiamma ended up reconsidering their price hike.  Will you not help us, Mr. Bruni? 

Revisiting My Favorite St. Patty’s Day Lunch (and the best Onion Rings in Midtown)

If you’re looking for a St. Patty’s Day Midtown Lunch, there really is only place to recommend…  The Blarney Stone on 3rd Ave. btw. 44+45th.  An Irish Bar, to be sure, but not one of those typical Midtown pubs, where the food is mediocre, overpriced and served to you by a waiter.  It’s a dive in the best sense of the word, with a bar on the left, steam table/grille on the right, free for all wooden tables in the back, and some of the cheapest, most delicious lunch food in Midtown- no menus required.

When I first wrote about the Blarney Stone in January of last year, it was for the burger.  1/2 a lb. of fresh grilled meat, on a gigantic roll for only $4 is easily the best burger deal in Midtown ($6, gets you the works + fries or onion rings), but with the influx of Five Guys, the new Goodburger location , Pop Burger, and standbys like the Burger Joint, I feel like the Blarney Stone is still largely under the radar when it comes to burgers (although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the long lines between Noon and 2pm every day).  The burger is still great, and amazingly they haven’t really raised the prices yet.  But on St. Patty’s Day, a burger may not be exactly what you’re looking for…

Corned Beef porn, and the best onion rings in Midtown, after the jump.  Read more »

Midtown Links (Week in Review Edition)