Newest Macaron Café My Favorite Place for Catching Up with Folks
Since I left my job in Queens for Midtown, I see my former coworkers more often than I had imagined. Turns out, happily, that quite a few of of my old buddies are now either working or consulting in Midtown, just like myself… So when we decide to get together and catch up, I end up as the decider of a lunch venue quite often. When I’m called upon for this purpose, my pick is the newest Macaron Café (3rd Ave. btw. 46th and 47th).
If you’ve ever been in the predicament of choosing a place to eat for someone whose food inclinations you’re not terribly knowledgeable about (e.g. I remember she ate a chicken salad sandwich at work once)… this can be somewhat of a challenge. It’s probably not a good idea to opt for a food cart since you can’t easily sit down to chat… and it’s also risky to bring someone along to a joint like the often DOH-shuttered Ming Du. On the flip-side, it might be cheeky to suggest an overly-expensive place, or to throw an unsuspecting comrade into the hell of a frantic, loud, Midtown gourmet deli with major foot traffic like Zeytinz.
If I’m going at odd hours, I’ll go to the original, somewhat hipster Macaron Café (36th Street btw. Broadway and 7th Ave) Zach first wrote about in 2008 since it’s a little closer to my office. I love the fresh, non-intimidating French menu offering high quality sandwiches and salads for under $10, and a different special every day of the week. But the problem there is seating — there’s very little of it. The great thing about the newest location is the ample seating and table service, and the option for a delicious (if expensive) Macaron afterwards.
The main warning I’ve got for all you Lunchers: each Macaron Café has gotten progressively… pinker. The first location on 36th is kind of shabby-arty-farty. Blondie reported on the second location’s opening on 59th btw. Park & Madison in 2010, and by her photos you’ll see the decor becoming more, well… pink. In the third location, you walk in and you think, OMG this place is alarmingly pink, right down to the staff’s pink outfits. So, if you’re in the Big Burly Man Club meeting up with another member of said club, for the love of all things holy — don’t go here.
But as pink as it might be, the food is still great. Since the menu is the same at all locations, I’ve included some shots from both of the venues I’ve been to.
My personal favorite thus far is the Croque Monsieur, the Tuesday special. This is a pretty steep at $9.75, but the sandwich is excellent. Of course you’ve got your ham and cheese and bread, but what makes this sandwich superior is the extra layer of bread in the middle soaked in bechamel sauce and the fact that the gruyere is melted on top of the whole thing. There’s no powdered sugar like I’ve had on other croques, but that was fine by me. The salad was awesome thanks to the tangy, perfectly viscous dressing.
The Thursday special, roast beef, is also excellent. At a slightly cheaper $8.75, the soft bread and creamy mustard paired with tender beef and acidic tomatoes works very, very well.
I exchanged half of a friend’s Siciliano, which is on the regular menu, with my roast beef. Although it was flavorful in all the right ways, with the salted meat and briny capers paired with mozarella and basil, I wouldn’t recommend this sandwich if you’re dining with anyone you hope to impress. The baguette was so tough I thought my teeth were going to break. I felt like a ravenous lion devouring its prey — you really have to grip and rip to get this bread into bite-sized pieces!
Finally, I’ll include a quick pic of Tuesday’s shrimp and avocado salad special that received great reviews from my friend. She plans on coming back to Macaron Café after her first visit.
And we can’t forget the macarons! I tried my first chewy, gooey pistachio flavored macaron ever at the 36th street location. Here are my iPhone notes:
What is inside this? Butter churned by angels? Jesus God. Going back.
So, although many Midtown Lunchers would turn their noses up at the price, but when you taste one you can see why they’re $2.50 a pop. They’re definitely crack-like. You get near them and you’re almost obliged to buy them. I know they’re pricier than they used to be, but does anyone know… are they more reasonably priced than Bouchon Bakery‘s macarons? And which macarons taste better?