Are the Cucina & Co. Friday Sliders Worth the Hype?
Every day, the Chef’s Table at Cucina & Co. in the Rock Center Concourse offers a different lunch for $9.50 from 11:30 to 12:30. The lunches change each week (Brownie enjoyed their pork tenderloin medallions with pasta), but Fridays are always the same. Chef Juan anchors each week with his cheeseburger sliders, and they’re popular enough to have gotten the attention of Concourse neighbor Tri Tip. We’ve never had the sliders though, so I decided to head out for an early lunch last Friday (the Chef’s Table is known to run out of food). See what I found after the jump.
There was a short line at the Chef’s Table the entire time I was there. The line moved quickly, but it was obvious that many people came downstairs solely for the sliders. I even picked up a few things by watching those before me (i.e. grabbing a little salad dressing cup from the nearby salad bar for Chef Juan to scoop some extra chipotle aioli into).
The sliders are pretty simple. A bun, a small patty, a slice of cheese, a single slice of tomato and a dollop of spicy chipotle aioli. Each order comes with three sliders and a mound of thin French fries. Chef Juan personally constructs all of the sliders in front of the customers cooked to order.
I ordered my sliders medium rare, and I was pretty disappointed with their level of “doneness.” My burgers were clearly much closer to rare, with only the outer shell being cooked, and they were pretty cold just a few minutes after I walked away from the cooking station. I’m not sure if this was a mistake of if they typically err on the side of undercooking, but I think ordering the sliders medium would be a much safer bet.
Regardless of the temperature of my burgers, I didn’t find a whole lot to love here. The bun was a little too thick for such a small burger, and it had a crumbly texture I wasn’t too fond of. Between the bun and the firm, not-quite-ripe tomato slice, the meat and cheese were pretty much completely overwhelmed.
The chipotle aioli was smoky, a little spicy and just all around delicious though. It made a great dip for the fries, which were also quite good. Sides being the upside of a meal isn’t a very good sign, but I felt much better about my lunch as I polished off the serving of hot, crisp fries.
I can’t help but be a little disappointed by my slider experience at Cucina & Co. The ingredients and preparation left something to be desired, but from everything I saw, the enthusiasm and effort is there. I’d consider trying them again (ordered medium of course), even though at $9.50 it’s hard to imagine three sliders seeming like a great deal. I’m actually much more interested in the other Chef’s Table offerings though. The sliders may have built a following largely because they’re one of the only items available each week.
Cucina & Co, 30 Rockefeller Center, Concourse Level, (212) 332-7630