Flatiron Lunch: Tbsp Offers a Nice Getaway From the Office (and the Weather)
Every Friday our man UltraClay goes south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
With so many new and notable places to eat in Flatiron, it’s easy to forget the little places that we pass by every day without thinking about it. One of them for me has been Tablespoon, a little cafe attached to a catering shop on 20th Street. It’s across from the color lab where I get my film developed, so I’ve noticed it before but never went in. I finally decided to investigate.
At the front counter there’s a selection of pastries, muffins and pre-made sandwiches on display. Specials change regularly, but I just stuck with some of the regular lunch fare.
Given how tight the space is at even the biggest restaurants in the area (I’m looking at you Eataly), the wide open seating area in the back seems almost luxurious. I’m not one to get excited about decor, but in the middle of this crappy winter, touches like the tiny flowers on each table almost make me feel human again.
Being partial to warm sandwiches, I stuck with panini on both of my visits. Unlike the generic delis everywhere else, Tablespoon uses real bread rather than cheap, gummy flatbread. The rolls are crusty and thick and the pressing doesn’t make them pancake flat,
On my first visit, I had the cubano ($9). It’s filled with house-roasted pork and a slice of ham that tasted like it spent a little time on the griddle. The cheese is sharp and gooey and the pickle is tart.
On my second time stopping in, I had the chicken cobb panini ($8.50). Filled with chicken breast, soft avocado and lined with applewood smoked bacon and bleu cheese, it’s a nice combination of strong flavors and textures. The bacon wasn’t crisp enough for my taste, but the smoke was strong, the bleu cheese added a bite to it and the avocado’s softness balanced the firmness of the chicken and the crustiness of the bread.
My only complaint is that the sandwiches aren’t very big and at these prices, they should be. I’ve wanted to go back to check out the steak sandwich, but haven’t been motivated enough to spend that much for something that size.
So, yes, the prices aren’t a bargain, that’s for certain, but the food is good and the quiet space is exactly the sort of place I’d like to go in the middle of a hectic day to get away from the nonsense of the office. If I wanted to meet up with someone for lunch to catch up, I think Tablespoon would be a good place to do it. Most other sit down places in the area are going to cost more and then you’ve got to tip. Cafe Prague, might be a decent alternative, but it’s small and the heavy traffic means that the door will be swinging open every other minute.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- It’s a cozy place to get away from thoughts of work or to meet up and chat.
- The ingredients in the sandwiches are quality and tasty.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- For $8+, that sandwich needs to be bigger – haven’t these people heard of the $5 foot-long?!?
Tbsp, 17 W 20th St (btw. 5+6th) 646-230-7000