Greenhouse 36 Would Be Just Ok… If It Weren’t An All You Can Eat Buffet!
My love of Chinese buffets is pretty well documented, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a non-Asian buffet from time to time. In fact, you could say my buffet chops were sharpened over many trips to the now closed Sizzler on 104th Street and Dixie Highway in Miami (circa 1988). It’s my earliest memory of crafting a strategy for attacking a buffet, and also the genesis of my buffet onion ring obsession (aka I always eat at least one onion ring from every buffet, even if it’s Asian.)
So on Tuesday, when I stumbled across Greenhouse 36 (in the Wyndham Times Square Hotel on 36th btw. 8+9th), I was naturally intrigued. Situated in a hotel, Greenhouse 36 seems like any other crappy-hotel-lunch-spot-in-a-garden, except for one thing. From now through the end of the year (it expires on December 29th, 2009), they’re offering a lunch buffet for $9.50.
How could I not?
I will stick up for buffets as a genre of restaurant to my dying day. Obviously not because of the quality, and not even because of the quantity (although that is a plus.) It’s more about the variety. What I’m saying is, inherent with eating at most buffets is the admission that you are willing to sacrifice quality for variety (or quantity). “So this isn’t the best ___________ I’ve ever had. But it’s a buffet!” And that’s pretty much the case with almost everything at Greenhouse 36.
Almost like a generic Midtown deli, on a nicely decorated table, Greenhouse 36 is a what I would consider a small scale buffet. They had pre-made turkey sandwiches, on nice looking rolls, pre-made chicken ceasar wraps, plus assorted pre-cut deli meats and cheeses, with sliced bread, so you can make your own sandwiches. There was also a turkey breast carving station (fancy!), and a few assorted hot dishes to choose from- like mushroom tortellini, some sort of weird sausage and vegetables mixture, sliced chicken in a butter sauce, and mashed potatoes. They also have soup, but you have to ask your waiter for it. (I found that out too late.)
Bread, sandwiches, and pasta are the worst things you can eat at a buffet (from a stuffing your face standpoint) but that’s pretty much all they’ve got at this place (or as I like to call it “That’s how they getcha!”) Even so, all you can eat sandwiches and pasta in Midtown for the price of a salad and a drink at Cafe Metro is not a bad deal. I attempted to make my first plate a “feeler plate”.
The chicken ceasar salad wrap was mediocre at best… but whatever. It’s an all you can eat buffet! The chicken in the butter sauce was kind of dry and weird, but overall not bad. And, I didn’t really care so much. It’s an all you can eat buffet! The cheese and roast beef were… cheese and roast buffet. The tortellini with mushrooms was probably the tastiest of the dishes (do I detect truffle salt?), although the mushrooms were a little too chewy (probably because they were dried, and not rehydrated properly.) But what are you going to do? It’s an all you can buffet!
For my second plate, I got more tortellini. (What I can say? I’m a glutton for punishment… emphasis on the glutton.) I also decided to try out the turkey carving station. The turkey was kind of dry (not a surprise) but actually a little bit more moist than I expected… so bonus! Although I think what I though was cranberry sauce, was actually jam. (Not a bonus.) But who cares? It’s an all you can eat buffet! I was having fun…
The best part of the buffet is that it comes with coffee and dessert. (I took two.) And it’s probably the only thing that would have been good even if I wasn’t eating at an all you can eat buffet.
In the end, like most crappy buffets this one requires you to make excuses for a lot of the food. But if you are spending $13 on a turkey sandwich, a drink, and cookie at some generic deli… why not get the same turkey sandwich, drink, and dessert (and tortellini) in all you can eat form for $9.50? Plus it’s in a beautiful atrium. You do have to pay tax and tip on top of that $9.50 (so it ends up coming out closer to $15 for lunch), but who cares? It’s an all you can eat buffet!
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I don’t care how good or bad the food is, I love all you can eat buffets
- If i’m going to eat a turkey sandwich and cookie anyway (for $10), why not get 4 turkey sandwiches and 7 cookies for the same price
- It’s refreshing to find an all you can eat buffet that’s not Asian food
- The enclosed garden setting is a really relaxing place to enjoy lunch.
- The coffee and dessert might be worth $10 alone
- The only thing worse than eating at a buffet? Eating at a hotel buffet.
- The only thing worse than eating lunch in Midtown? Eating lunch at a hotel in Midtown.
- No amount of boring turkey sandwiches is worth $10
- If the food is boring, why would I want all you can eat of it?
Greenhouse 36, 341 W. 36th St. (btw. 8+9th), 646-329-3229