Kashkaval Garden is All About Value and Variety


A few years ago, ML overlord Zach Brooks wrote a glowing piece on Kashkaval, a now shuttered Mediterranean themed tapas bar in Hells Kitchen known for its cozy back dining room, well curated cheeses, and tasty dips . The Kashkaval team has moved a few doors down and reincarnated into Kashkaval Garden, a larger restaurant that with an expanded menu that follows similar themes of Mediterranean dips, small plates, and an extensive wine and booze list.

In addition to the expanded menu, Kashkaval Garden has added several lunch specials, all priced at $12. Before you get up in arms about exceeding the ML cost threshold, consider the variety of the menu and quantity of food delivered. Consider that the menu makes the broader dinner menu very accessible for a solo luncher, such as the fondue pot for one, or the cut-rate offering of tapas – typically 5 for $16, here you can try 4 for $12.

Consider that the menu accommodates a range of appetites – soup and salad for the daintier eater, and sufficiently gluttonous options for fat asses, such as the poutine lunch and tantalizingly rich grilled cheeses. Each lunch special is consummated by a homemade dessert to go – on my visit a pair of chocolate chip cookies.

During my visit, I went with the “La Religiuese” combo of grilled cheese and gazpacho soup. The gazpacho tasted as it should – cooled to provide refreshing respite from the ruthlessly muggy day but not so icy as to dull the flavors. It tasted cleanly of tomato and cucumber, punched up with plenty of lemon, garlic, herbs, and olive oil.

Kashkaval Garden is doing exciting things with grilled cheese as well – the la religiuise was unique enough to be memorable without being too gimmicky or over the top. Melted raclette cheese was paired with a sweet onion jam and stuffed between two ever-so-crunchy slices of thick cut toast. Despite the hefty payload of cheese, the sandwich ate lighter than the sum of its parts, and blessedly wasn’t excessively oily or greasy.

However the real differentiator was their technique to blast the sandwich open faced in a salamander to develop a welcome layer of toasted cheese. In fact, the sandwich’s name pays homage to what fondue nerds refer to the thin layer of toasted cheese on the bottom of the fondue pot – like the dairy version of a paella’s socarrat.

I’ll revisit the >$10 price issue. I dare you to find a lunch special that amounts to Kashkaval Garden’s 3-course meal, menu variety, and exceptional quality and execution. In his Serious Eat’s review, Zach proclaimed that Kashkaval was “all about dipping things into other things”. In keeping with the vague messaging, I’ll proclaim that Kashkaval Garden is all about getting a whole lot of bang for your buck.

The + (What somebody who likes this would say)

  • This is one helluva grilled cheese sandwich
  • A 3-course lunch for $12 is a freaking bargain
  • The menu will satisfy health freaks, vegetarians, and fat-asses alike

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • The lunch specials are over the $10 ML limit
  • It’s somewhat out-of-bounds

Kashkaval Garden, 852 9th Avenue (Between 55th & 56th St); (212) 245-1758

25 Comments

  • Love this place! There’s actually a kind of messed up story why they no longer have the original storefront, and AFAIK, they intend to re-open the original concept (not sure how different it is from Garden) at some point, once they find a good spot to do so.

    • yeah, should have noted the press release:

      “The establishment’s landlord has opted not to renew the lease and has declined to offer a reason for this decision.

      “Kashkaval has been in the community since 1998 and is locally owned,” says co-owner Daniel Assaf. “It’s unfortunate we have to close under these circumstances. We have been great tenants, we pay a market rent and were willing to continue doing so. Our shop is successful and we employ over 30 people.”

      Despite many attempts to save this neighborhood favorite, including a Change.org petition with over 3,500 signatures, Kashkaval has been forced to vacate at the end of the month.

      “We are so thankful for the outpouring of support we have received. We were very moved by the hundreds of stories and letters in support of our efforts to renew our lease,” says co-owner Corey Samuels. “Many people have had wonderful and memorable experiences at Kashkaval over the years and the national, and even international, attention has been overwhelming.”

  • >$10 yada yada yada…. revisit… yada yada yada… $12 specials… yada yada yada…

    THIS IS FRIGGIN’ MIDTOWN LUNCH! A MIDTOWN LUNCH IS UNDER $10!!! ARE YOU *SERIOUSLY* INCAPABLE OF FINDING A DECENT LUNCH IN ALL OF MIDTOWN THAT COSTS UNDER $10 AND WRITING ABOUT IT???????

    Don’t bother revisiting the issue. You clearly don’t get it. Even though it is pretty simple–just a single price limit. Not about “3-course” “menu variety” BS. **UNDER $10** Is that concept so difficult to grasp? (Apparently so.)

    I vote that Yvo writes all ML reviews. At least she understands what ML is about.

    • BTW, so we’re clear here, $12 for grilled cheese and a small bowl of cold soup is NOT a midtown lunch.

    • I’d vote not to lose any more MTL content than we already have lost, personally.

    • User has not uploaded an avatar

      The limit was $10 in 2007. Using just a 2.7% inflation rate puts you over $12 seven years later.

      • I was going to comment on inflation; thank you for doing the math, blair. Steven, I appreciate the sentiment, but your comment makes me feel conflicted as I have/had some ML worthy lunches that are above $10. Echoing others’ sentiments, occasionally the need or desire to go above $10 occurs, and I think that’s fair.

        I also give a resounding “HECK YEAH” to Chris’s statement that he’d like to send some business Kashkaval’s way. They have always held a spot in my heart, and I wholeheartedly agree that they deserve better than what they got.

    • User has not uploaded an avatar

      I agree with stevenp.

      As soon as I saw $12 I knew this wasn’t an Yvo post.

      This place might be a great value and deserve more attention than it gets, but it’s still out the price range for this site. There are lots of restaurants out there that are great values and run by good people, but they aren’t appropriate for ML if they’re over $10.

  • I think this is a great review. Re-discovering a “Zach Brooks Stuffed Himself Silly Here” venue. If Chris H. says they have big ass items, I believe him. ML is rising, Phoenix-like, from the ashes, thanks to Yvo and Chris.

  • It’s not ML with he cheapest lunch in a review being the “$12 special.” I bet Zach is rolling in his waterbed because of this…

    • Not trying to be belligerent or self defensive, but this blog isn’t called $10 lunch. It’s midtownlunch, and if we can find something at or below $10 than that’s great.

      My only purpose is to highlight restaurants and vendors that deserve to be recognized, regardless of price.

      Furthermore, Kashkaval (and Kashkaval Garden) is a beloved neighborhood staple that got dealt a shitty hand by their shady landlord. I’d love to help them get back on their feet by sending much deserved business their way.

      • I re-echo what Chris said as well….

      • I’d like to know more about the skewers

      • User has not uploaded an avatar

        Admirable, but irrelevant.

        Midtown Lunch is not a restaurant activism site or a site that merely reviews “restaurants and vendors that deserve to be recognized, regardless of price” (really??). There are plenty of other NYC food sites for those.

        Midtown Lunch serves a more refined purpose. Its value-add is its mission to unearth delicious <$10 meals served by establishments that lie within the borders of the wasteland that is Midtown. This review failed in this regard.

        In addition, if we are in fact going the restaurant activism route, I'd argue that at least a handful of bonafide Midtown Lunch establishments are just as deserving of the attention you bring to Kashkaval, as Kashkaval has almost 800 Yelp reviews and a solid 4 star rating. Any noob can find Kashkaval.

  • I appreciate Stevenp’s dedication to the rules, but at the same time appreciate the new influx of interesting lunch articles, that are still ballpark 10 bucks. 12, bucks, 13 bucks, hell, even 15 bucks– it’s pretty much the same in that it’s not going to bust someone’s budget by paying an extra couple of bucks–especially if the food is good or unique. Considering most of us are well paid white collar workers, the 10 bucks is, I think, meant more as a guideline than a firm rule, especially at this point in light of inflation.

    • I agree that there should be some allowances for inflation, and that does look like a very fancy grilled cheese, but if you’re going over $10 there should be some meat involved

  • I’m in because if the lunch was $10 I’d stuff two singles in Chris H’s underoos as a tip for the food porn pics anyway

  • Urgh… can’t believe I have to get out of my waterbed to address this.

    While we strive to keep all lunches under $10, I’ve never had a problem about going a tad bit over the limit if the place represents a great value, *and* has a Midtown Lunch aesthetic. If you’ve been, and disagree with Chris, you can argue about the merits of those two points… but let’s not dismiss a place out of hand, just because it’s $12. (Especially considering it gets harder and harder to find under $10 lunches every year that passes…)

    • A shallow magnitude 4.6 earthquake was reported in the L.A. vicinity yesterday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The temblor occurred at 11:16 a.m.

      The quake was felt across a wide area of the Inland Empire as well as parts of L.A. and Orange counties, according to the USGS. A spokesman for the San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Department told the Los Angeles Times that the sudden shifting of a large body of water was the likely cause.

  • KHLAV KALASH

    NO BOWL! STICK! STICK!

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Damn it, Chris.. NO pics of the cookies?!?!?!

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