Ground Central is a Cool New Coffee Shop, But is it a Good Lunch Option?

Ground Central Coffee Company, a small coffee shop that opened on 52nd St. (btw Lex+3rd) last month, boasts a lunch menu with sandwiches that sound really good. And with price tags just below and sometimes above the ML limit, you’d expect them to be really good. But before we get to that, let me just say that Ground Central is a really cool coffee shop. It’s got a nice drink menu of coffees and teas and a nicely decorated interior with plenty of seating. It’s definitely somewhere I’d go to relax over a hot drink. They’ve also got a bunch of tasty-looking baked goods like madeleines, chocolate chip cookies, and financiers. And when you buy a sandwich or salad, you get a free drink.

But is it a good lunch option?

They’ve got a wide selection of sandwiches, including a tea sandwich with lox and cream cheese and a poached chicken sandwich with curried mayonnaise. I was tempted to get the chicken, since curried chicken salad is a favorite of mine, but it cost $11, and I can’t imagine any chicken salad sandwich being worth that unless it came with a free gold brick. Instead, I opted to try the PBA (prosciutto, brie, and apple) and a very interesting-sounding beet salad sandwich.

The beet salad sandwich had sliced golden beets, goat cheese, arugula, walnut crema, and pickled mustard seeds. Beets and goat cheese are a classic combination, of course, but it was the walnut crema and mustard seeds that sold me. The mustard seeds were good, adding a nice bite to balance with the creaminess of the goat cheese, but I couldn’t taste any walnut flavor. Despite that, the flavors of the sandwich worked well. It’d have been a great sandwich except that the bread, a ciabatta roll, was on the hard side (well beyond crusty).

It was also extremely small for the $8 price, as you can see below. There was hardly anything on the sandwich at all. One layer of thinly sliced beets for $8? Seriously?

The PBA was a bit better, but at $10, was also on the small side and needed more filling. The prosciutto, thinly sliced apple, and brie complemented each other nicely. Romaine lettuce adds a nice crunch, and dijon mustard added a nice, vinegary bite. The bread, a piece of baguette, was just as crusty as the ciabatta, but that seemed to work better with this sandwich. I just wish there was another slice of prosciutto or two, since the sandwich was quite spare. I had a half of each sandwich, and that was not enough to tide me over until dinner.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ground Central’s service could use some work. The drinks were ready quickly, but the sandwiches took almost 20 minutes. They had some sandwiches pre-made, but had to make the PBAs. It wasn’t particularly busy, and my group of five were the only ones ordering sandwiches, so I’m not sure what the issue was. Whatever it was, 20 minutes for a sandwich is unacceptable.

Ground Central Coffee Company is the type of place most Lunchers avoid – it’s got high prices and small portions. I’m not sure I’d return for anything other than coffee. But, assuming my long wait was an aberration, it’d make a nice place to grab a small, quiet lunch, or to have a lunch meeting.

Ground Central Coffee Company, 646-964-4438, 155 East 52nd St. (btw Lexington + 3rd)

1 Comment

  • Didn’t try any sandwiches or espresso drinks, but their drip coffee may be the best in the neighborhood (and that includes Little Collins). I think if you were already planning on getting a coffee with your lunch this is an okay spot price wise. I tried the kale and quinoa salad. It didn’t have much kale, but it had lots of pine nuts, and pine nuts are awesome and expensive!

    The service is wayyy too scripted and I hate the daily pastry up-sell attempt when I’m just trying to get my morning coffee. Management should let their employees act human.

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