Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. This week, it’s Steven A. Shaw, director of eGullet.com and the author of the brand new book Asian Dining Rules. The book goes cuisine by cuisine giving you tips on how best to enjoy Asian food at restaurants. It even has a chapter on how to attack the Chinese food buffet (with a lot of rules that sounded awfully familiar!) Clearly a kindred spirit, I wanted to get his recs for eating lunch in Midtown…
Name: Steven A. Shaw
Age: I can’t believe I’m 39. It feels like just a few weeks ago I was 25 and working multiple consecutive all nighters at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Now if I pulled an all nighter I’d probably drop dead.
Occupation: Un- . . . I mean self-employed. I’m a big-firm litigator turned minor food personality. I’m the director of the eGullet Society, I write books about food (ASIAN DINING RULES and TURNING THE TABLES), I teach at the French Culinary Institute, I write a semi-regular dining feature for Crain’s New York Business. I do a lot of stuff in a never-ending scramble to avoid bankruptcy.
Where in Midtown do you Work?: When I had a real job I worked first at Worldwide Plaza (50th Street and Eighth Ave.) and then in 919 Third Avenue (at 56th Street). Now the city is my office. My wife Ellen and I work wherever we need to work. For example, she’s just finishing a book that she wrote almost entirely in the public space at Sony Plaza. We live in Carnegie Hill.
Favorite Kind of Food: Of my ten favorite foods, probably eight or so would be cured pork products: bacon, salami, prosciutto and the like. The remaining two would be stinky European cheeses, bordering on inedible and untouchable. I’m also a big fan of the grapefruit, and I’m eating as many as I can as a hedge against the day when my doctor puts me on Lipitor and I have to stop eating grapefruits.
Least Favorite Kind of Food: Human flesh is something I try to avoid consuming. Other than that, I eat and enjoy pretty much everything.
Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: My favorite lunch in Midtown, and the one I indulge in most often, is the Burger Bar at Beacon. Midtown Lunch has covered the Burger Bar but I think the focus on a hard $10 ceiling rules out a restaurant that is objectively a great value. For $12.95 you get the Beacon Burger, which in my opinion is the best burger in New York City — and I think I’ve sampled most every contender for that title. It’s an 8 oz. grilled burger made from Niman Ranch Certified Natural Black Angus beef, served on country toast and garnished with (all on the side) grilled red onion, lettuce, tomato, house-made pickles and ketchup, and very good garlic fries. I have been going pretty much weekly for the past year. I am, in general, a big fan of Waldy Malouf’s cooking. He was doing the whole seasonal, local, Hudson Valley thing long before it was trendy. His Hudson River Valley Cookbook, published in the mid-1990s, is still the definitive work in the genre. You can only get the burgers at the 6-seat counter from noon through 2:30pm (they will seat you up until just before 2:30). I recommend going right at noon or after about 1:45 to avoid the chance of a wait. Also, to the extent this is relevant (it is to me because I have a three-year-old son), Beacon goes out of its way to accommodate kids — and kids under 4 eat free.
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Posted by Zach Brooks at 11:45 am, November 25th, 2008 under PROFILE: Midtown Lunch'er.