UrbanSpace Vanderbilt Is Seriously Crazy

As reported by Brian earlier, UrbanSpace Vanderbilt is CRAZY. His first words “The things we do for you, dear readers” could not ring more true because I HATE CROWDS (and when he reported how bad it was via email on Friday, I considered bailing). My impression was slightly different than his – crazier in some aspects, less crazy in others – what I ate, what I thought, and all of that after the jump.

I jacked his picture above because when I got there, I became so flustered that I forgot to take a picture of the stand/menu. Thanks Brian.

As for the crowds – I had a little more luck than he did. I arrived shortly after 1pm and maybe people were warned away via social media or something, because I had enough room to scoot towards the back corner where I knew Delaney Chicken was. There was a huge crowd by the door when I first walked in, because the area to wait for your food for Roberta’s and No 7 Veggie are both right where you walk in, stupid setup.

When I walked up to Delaney Chicken, I REALLY lucked out because there were 2-3 people waiting to order, but apparently the cashier told them 15 minutes before they’d see chicken so they left. I had time, but just as I was about to order Daniel Delaney (chef/owner) came over and told him 7 minutes before the next batch was ready, and some orders were ready to go because there were no-shows. I placed my order, chatted with the very talkative cashier, and then tried to take some more pictures but my order was already boxed and ready to go.

Monster chicken right out of the fryer. I asked the girl boxing orders if I could have all dark meat and she stared at me blankly before responding, “Um, well, they’re all wings.” Heh, yes, you read that right.

I initially thought I’d have to go outside and somehow squish somewhere to eat, but I darted towards the windows and found a lone space looking out onto concrete, so I plopped myself there.

Here is the chicken and my $16.33 pre-tip meal.

I ordered potato salad for $5 and received two teeny tiny little sauce containers of potato salad, which the cashier told me was his preferred side. That potato salad was okay, but I’m hard pressed to say any potato salad is $5 delicious.

Also, this might be a bit nitpicky, but… those little packets of honey on the side are Kraft. If you’re going to charge this much for chicken and potato salad, upgrade the honey at least. I mean — the honey turned out to be way too floral to go with the chicken and really detracted from it. Or don’t give honey at all.

As for the chicken… sigh. Those are two wings under all that batter. Wings, including tip, wing, and drumette. Wings, battered and deep fried to golden crisp perfection. The batter mimics the best fried chicken in the country (the namesake passed away on Friday, actually) very closely, and I almost cried from just how close it gets to that amazing fried chicken with the thinnest crust, crackly, piping hot. Delaney Chicken’s batter is slightly spicy – but unevenly so, as my first few bites caused more than a few tears to trickle down my face, while the rest of the chicken wasn’t spicy at all and almost bland/unsalted (thus the use of honey for some zip).

The batter, though, was unfortunately super thick in some areas and those areas soggy, soft. It slid off easily from all of the chicken, which it shouldn’t do. While tasty overall with potential to be completely amazing fried chicken, right now it hasn’t achieved that yet.

That’s just from me pulling open the chicken because it was too hot to eat – how juicy and wonderful that chicken is!

I realize that even if it achieves that potential, ML readers won’t be willing to pay $10 for two wings (four, if you break it down – since no one ever counts wing tips as pieces). I don’t blame you. I’m hoping they change their pricing structure soon, and am kicking myself slightly for not checking what pieces they meant exactly by $10 for 2 pieces on the menu. It’s more than a little ridiculous.

But oh man, when it achieves that potential…

By the way – a few tips and hints. I know more than a few people who went on Friday, but the happiest ones were the ones who went after work. It was apparently pretty ‘empty’ (relative to the lunch crowd) so they were able to sit and eat much more peacefully. That may be the way to go if you really want to check it out today.

One other thing – when I walked in, I walked close to the tables in the middle section and noticed a credit card on the table next to a girl sitting there. I tapped her to tell her that her friend shouldn’t save her seat by putting a CC on the table and she seemed surprised and said it wasn’t hers nor her friends. I took it to turn in somewhere but found no one to give it to, so I looked up the person on Facebook and sent them a message and a friend request (because messages from non-friends go to your ‘other’ folder). The person wound up blocking me. No good deed… but if your last name is Engel and you happen to read this site, your card was in good hands. I assume you’ve since cancelled the card, but just a little warning to everyone to pay attention.

Back to food – I would have to agree with Brian that this place seems more like a splurge or a light lunch, dessert place, as opposed to somewhere you’ll put in your regular rotation. Hopefully pricing changes slightly as time goes on, and crowds die a little so you can eat in peace, but for now… I’d be hard pressed to recommend you drop everything and run over there.

Too bad because there was so much promise…

UrbanSpace Vanderbilt, 230 Park Avenue (at 45th Street), (212) 529-9262

18 Comments

  • The headline … you spelled shitty wrong

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    Great write-up. I went to Roberta’s on Friday and had a very similar experience. Just a little too stressful and expensive to make up for the great vendors.

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    It’s a madhouse and as much as I’d like to go there regularly, it’s not fun being pushed around or having to push people around just to walk across the room. Not to mention the prices at most vendors are a bit above what I’d like to be spending on a normal lunch. $10-$12 I can live with, $15+ not so much. And $6 for a taco? holy shit that’s an awful deal. At least the other items that are pricey are in the normal range for their category. $15 for 3 tacos is crazy.

  • I get that Midtown Lunch is almost 10 years old and inflation is a thing, so getting a full lunch for $10 might might not be as easy today as it was when the site first launched. Still though, lol @ $10 for 2 Chicken Wings.

  • I came here yesterday, Wednesday, figuring it would be less of a zoo on a major Jewish Holiday. I was wrong.
    Arrived at 12:15 and there were long lines and crowds everywhere. After waiting in line for 10 minutes, I ordered a small pizza ($10) from Roberto’s. My ticket number was #87. They were currently making order #60. 30 minutes later, I got my small pizza. 3 minutes after that, I had eaten the pizza and was still hungry but didn’t have any more time. Fred, I can’t be Freak of the week twice in the same week, can I?

    • sorry

      I consulted the FotW rules and procedures manual, and page 643 paragraph 5 indicates that there are only two allowable cases for this

      1) Jinx. Jinx can be FotW anytime, as Jinx dictates.

      2) Women who show us their tots

      • I .. LIKE … BIG TOTS AND I CANNO… eh, forget it

      • Fred, Wayne, there’s something you should know. I met a woman recently who told me she used to read ML quite frequently, and said “I just remember Fred as one of the commenters. Is he still around? He used to say the most awful things to people.”
        I responded, of course, “I think you mean Wayne, but they’re both still around.”

      • I can virtually guarantee she is confusing Fred with DocChuck, and in the spirit of the pope’s visit, shall be forgiven

        YOU on the other hand….

      • I’m famous! WoooooOOOOOOOOOO!

        wait…..its Wayne who is famous, darnit

      • Wayne is mean to me and I don’t like it, and no, she specifically referenced Fred Flintstone being your avatar.

      • I am fairly certain I said a number of mean things to DocChuck. Possible a number that could not be held in a variable declared as an integer.

        I think I have also said a number of mean things to D, because, well…..D

  • It seems almost not believable that two chicken wings could be sold for ten bucks. I say almost because I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. The fact that hipster doofuses (like us) will line up for it is just kind of sad.

    PS I hope to be in a better mood at some point this year.

    • Yeah. I’m over most of Urban Space. The value quotient sucks. First $11 for a tiny Roberta’s pizza, and yesterday $11 for a small bowl of Pad Thai from Bangkok Bar I finished in 6 bites. I’m going back to Chinese restaurants.

      • UrbanSpace is a for-profit event planning company that barely does its job well, at least here (noting the layout problems during reasonably busy periods). They have to make their desired profit for essentially setting up the space, so they charge high “rent” to vendors who otherwise might be able to charge a reasonable price for their wares.

        It’s like vendors at airports and sports arenas. No thanks.

  • I got Delaney Chicken Friday night. 8 bucks, 6 wings and that a side of coleslaw(didn’t eat…not good)

    BUT, the chicken was DELICIOUS!!!! Not sure I would ever go to Urbanspace for lunch because it’s a madhouse. But after hours are pleasant and again, this chicken is awesome!

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