Flatiron Lunch: Keko Café Makes a Solid French Baguette Sandwich
Every Friday we go 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. This week we’re excited to welcome a new Flatiron contributor… Sarah Z. Make her feel welcome!
Keko Café caught my eye with their somewhat odd but welcoming sidewalk blackboards that venture beyond the power of suggestion. “You need a cup of coffee.” “I do? Okay.” Inside, the interior and menu reflect an eclectic but charming Parisian café serving baguette sandwiches, crepes and quiches, among other things.
It being a chilly January day, I decided to go for the soup and half sandwich (on the menu as “sandwiche”) combo for $9.99. I wrote off the several misspellings on the menu as part of the experience, but if you work as a copy editor, this might not be the place for you. Since I am a sucker for brie, I went with the Smoked Turkey and Brie sandwich. There are many other options, and with everything made to order, I am sure you could do some mixing and matching for your favorite combos. For soup, I had the option of Lentil or Beef with Vegetable. One of the guys behind the counter said the beef soup was really good, so I decided to give it a go. After taking my order, I had a couple minutes to enjoy football (as the rest of the world calls it), certainly a welcome distraction.
The first thing I noticed on my sandwich was the little bit of char on top, which means they toasted it without me asking. Thank you Keko Café! The baguette is noteworthy itself, soft inside and crispy on the outside; great flavor. It certainly enhanced the taste of the sandwich. (For those baguette connoisseurs out there, it isn’t like Tom Cat or Sullivan Street, but it is better much than a standard deli baguette.) My sandwich wasn’t overstuffed, but the total size of the meal is decent, so I can’t complain. The sweet and tart honey mustard provided a nice contrast to the smoked turkey and gooey-melted brie.
The soup comes in a large container, although not filled to the top, with a surprising amount of beef (I am used to a few hunks in a whole serving). It also had a good assortment of veggies (I saw corn, snap peas, potatoes, carrots, peas, pearl onions, tomatoes) and good flavor. It was better than those soups out of a plastic sack that many lunch spots serve, but I liked the sandwich more, so I would have rather had the full sized sandwich and skipped the soup.
The menu also has a whole section of crepes in the ML budget, which are probably good; although, I question how well they would travel back to the office. The owner is Tunisian, so I bet the couscous with chicken and/or veggies would be good, but sadly it is over $10. (I noticed the prices are a little higher than on their website, but most items are still in ML range.)
If you have $1 left in your ML wallet, get the chocolate chip cookie – it’s amazing! Mine was next to the hot soup in the bag, which melted the chocolate. A lucky accident indeed, but worth repeating. While the cookie wasn’t soft, normally a prerequisite for me, the high quality dark chocolate chunks made it a great addition to my meal. I think they also put some shaved coconut or something into the cookie to add a little extra texture.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Delicious toasted sandwich, available with a variety of ingredients
- Many options, including crepes and quiches
- Best chocolate chip cookie
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Portions are average in size
- Boring café options
- Not authentic French
Keko Café, 121 Madison (btw. 30+31st)