Get a 50s Throwback Pop-Up Lunch at The Skylight Shoppe
Maloney & Porcelli (on 50th between Park & Madison) is the kind of place that I would need to be seriously okay with spending $53 on a Filet Mignon at 12pm, and let’s be honest, I’d rather take my important business to the trucks on 51st street. But, when I heard they were offering a much more reasonably priced 1950s pop-up lunch complete with a soda-fountain and a popcorn cart, my nostalgic self had to go check it out.
The Skylight Shoppe, open from 11:30am-2:30pm every day, is just a staircase above Maloney & Porcelli in the Skylight Room, usually used for private events. Upon entering the room, you are immediately transported back to a time where interior restaurant decor consisted of strictly red and white. Red and white checkered table cloths. Red and white swirly straws. Red licorice in a glass jar (that you can take at the end of your meal for free)! A red popcorn cart. Servers dressed like scientists with white lab coats and red embroidery. Ah, the simpler times.
Though I was enticed by the Chicken n’ Waffle ($11) or the Oyster Rockefeller Po ‘Boy ($13), I wanted to try a bunch of things for a hodge podge of a Midtown Lunch, so I started first with one of their specialty sodas, “The Jamaican,” ($3) after all the talk on Midtown Lunch lately about Jamaican food. The bartender/soda jerk walks over to the soda-fountain (yet another red cart) to make this on the spot, and comes back with a bright yellow drink garnished with mint. It tastes like a mix of pineapple and orange, kind of reminiscent of a fancy Tang, with a little bit of carbonation. Sipping this all through a red and white swirly straw, I felt like the 1950s child I never was.
For my meal, I decided to order a mug of tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons ($3) and a side of bacon & blue hush puppies ($4). This might have actually been the BEST tomato soup I have ever had. I had assumed when I ordered this that the croutons were just going to taste like any other dried crouton, but I was completely surprised by the fact that they were actually little pockets of fried cheese that burst with cheesy goodness upon biting into them.
My hearty side of hush puppies was also really something. Skylight definitely doesn’t skimp on the portions for the side. There were at least five more puppies hanging out under the picture shown here. Fluffy and light, without being dry, the hush puppies were fried just right with a crispy outside, but not overly drenched in oil. The accompanying blue cheese dip actually tasted more like tartar sauce to me. It wasn’t that strong, compared to blue cheese dip for hot wings and celery, but it was a nice addition to the already flavorful puppies.
I thought a soup and a side was going to be a light meal, but after finishing the soup, I actually had to take half of my hush puppies to go. And I’m glad I did because I got to relive all the fried goodness again the next day!
I was also intrigued by the Skylight Shoppe’s $2 popcorn boxes on the menu with flavors such as the Elvis (peanut butter/banana), Dill Pickle, Hot Wings, or Sweet ‘n Salty, but I’ll have to save that for my next comfort food nostalgia trip.
The real bonus at the end of all of this is that you can grab handfuls of free candy on your way out from the bar. I went for the Zots which were really similar to Warheads without the sour beginning.
I also stuffed a handful of lemon gumdrops into my pocket for the road. I recommend you do the same.
Skylight Shoppe, 37 E 50th St 3rd Fl (btw. Mad+5th). 212-750-0100