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