Macchiato Espresso Bar Revisited… For the First Time

It’s been almost three years since Macchiato Espresso Bar opened on 44th btw. Lex+3rd, selling their line of Italian coffee, sandwiches, salads, and pastries.  When it first opened, I posted my first impression (meh) which drew the ire of the owner because I hadn’t actually eaten any of the food or tries the coffee.  At the time I just wasn’t interested in trying another turkey and swiss sandwich for $9.  So sue me.  Well, it’s taken me almost three years… but I’ve finally gotten enough positive emails to warrant actually trying Macchiato Espresso Bar.  Well not me, but our resident coffee and baked goods expert Kathy YL Chan (from A Passion For Food).  I thought this place would be right up her alley, and asked her to check it out and report back.  Here’s what she found…

Welcome to Macchiato Espresso Bar on 44th Street, the last thing you’d expect to discover in discover in midtown. Coming in from 3rd Avenue, the bright blue entrance looks like some sort of strange oasis. The Bar exudes a Euro-trash meets midtown business vibe. Music is energetic, and the counter service is knowledgeable, efficient. Prices are high, though quality justifies to a certain extent.

I was most excited to learn that they bake all pastries and bread in-house. However, house-baked is no guarantee of deliciousness, and you can rest in peace knowing that these sweets are not worth your money. Muffins are reminiscent of saran wrapped deli versions, and the croissants are limp and heavy. Chocolate cigars showed slight promise for potential, but failed with smothers of gritty chocolate wrapped between over-greasy layers of doughy filo. They seem to have good intention (it would be tons easier to outsource) but ought to find someone who knows they’re way around the pasty kitchen. Unless you have liquid chocolate in mind, venture elsewhere for dessert.

When you stand at the register to pay, look directly to the front and there you’ll see a glass contraption swirling hot chocolate with a creamy thickness akin to City Bakery. The chocolate is served hot, or over ice. If you have it cold, they swirl in a little whole milk to “thin” it out to drinking consistency. Wonderful cold on a summer day, and doubtlessly enough calories for lunch alone. Or breakfast, if you’d please. The chocolate is milk, sweet, very sweet. It’ll never be among my favourites, but like the espresso, it clearly stands above peers in midtown.

Espresso is bold but errs on the side of bitter, and while one is guaranteed to find better downtown cousins (think Abraco, Everyman, 9th Street), Macchiato pulls a fine, if not memorable version. For a jolt on the go, you might want to pick up a Pocket Coffee, previously blogged by Zach on Serious Eats.

What I enjoyed most, surprisingly enough, were the salads. I’m not a “salad person,” but I know a good thing when I see it, and for the price of a comparable dish at say, Just Salad, or one of those fancy midtown salad bars, Macchiato fares quite well. Pictured above is the avocado salad. Priced just under $10, it is definitely not cheap, but it is a very filling salad made from good ingredients. Half an avocado, hearts of palm, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and pine nuts, all tossed with baby arugula. I would advise opting for dressing on the side. I failed to do so, and ended up with a semi-gloppy mess towards the bottom.

Sandwiches are not much cheaper, running from $7.59 to $8.95. The Prosciutto is their best-seller, setting itself apart from the standard prosciutto sandwich with olive tapenade, and balsamic-dipped tomatoes. The sandwich forms a base with slices of (too thick) prosciutto de parma layered with fresh mozzarella, basil and avocado.

Both salads and sandwiches are made to order, which is more than what many spots offer at a similar price. Get it to stay, and make yourself comfortable (but not too comfortable) at one of the cafe tables or street facing seats. The design of the Macchiato Espresso Bar – from service to style, seems to declare, “enjoy yourself while you’re out of the office, but get back to work quick!”

Macchiato Espresso Bar, 141 E 44th St (btw. Lex+3rd), 212-867-6772

Photos and post by Kathy YL Chan.
See the rest of Kathy’s Midtown Lunch posts here.


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