Flatiron Lunch: Ayza Wine Bar’s Lunch Special is Just Under $10 (Surprisingly)
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.
Located on an otherwise deserted stretch on 31st Street, Ayza is a wine and chocolate bar that doesn’t immediately come to mind as a place to find a Midtown Lunch. In fact, that point may still be debatable. It’s sort of fancy. I know I walked past it dozens of time without giving it a second thought until I saw that they offer a $9.95 lunch special. Skeptical, I decided to investigate.
The special offers a mini panini sandwich, a salad and a starter for $9.95. The options are all generally Mediterranean, with tapenade and bread that start off every meal (I told you it was fancy!) and starters of artichoke or hummus, but also mixed in with American flavors like the pulled pork panini. It all seemed worth a try.
If you’re tempted to tipple on some of the wine since you’re there, you may want to think again. All the wine, and even the mulled drinks they offer samples of on particularly frigid days, break the bank. Not a one that I noticed was under $9.
I had the namesake Ayza panini on my first visit, along with artichoke hearts and a salad that was as big as my sandwich. The artichoke hearts were warm and tangy with a soft, meaty flesh. Even the salad, which isn’t often my thing, was enjoyable. Greens are doused in a fresh tasting vinegar dressing along with a light citrus flavor and topped with grated nuts and a few olives mixed in for good measure.
As for the sandwich, when they say mini, they mean it. It’s small. There’s no way around it. I certainly wasn’t stuffed to bursting when I walked out, which is probably for the best, I suppose.
Though small, the sandwich’s bread was crisp on the outside and chewy inside, and the filling of Turkish sausage, a tart creamy cheese and a spiced sauce was quite tangy.
The smoked, roasted chicken and the pulled pork both satisfied the early cravings for smokey barbecue, but it definitely left me wanting to just go back to RUB for the real thing.
So, ok, I know you’re asking why I’d possibly bring this place to your attention with its small portions and pricey drinks. Here’s the thing: It’s hidden and cute and, much like Tablespoon 10+ blocks south, it’s really good for getting the hell away from everyone for a quiet lunch, whether alone or to catch up with friends.
Another thing is that they have outdoor seating, with heat lamps and blankets when it’s cold and hopefully open to the sun and warmth we’re supposed to get today. I’ve lamented the dearth of proper places to enjoy a meal in the sun before. It’s inhumane. So, any place that gets me away from the hordes and gives me a little fresh air and sun is going to catch my attention.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- It’s an out of the way spot that’s perfect for days when you just want a little peace and quiet.
- They have one of the few outdoor seating areas nearby.
- The food is good, and I like that they don’t give you a ton of it.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The food is good, too bad there isn’t twice as much of it.
- If you want wine with your food, you’re spending as much for a glass as you are for the meal.
Ayza Wine Bar, 11 W. 31st (btw. B’way+5th) 212-714-2992