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