Taste Of The World Financial Center Offers Expense Account Food At ML Prices
I know that the eateries in the World Financial Center don’t really get any love from this site, partly because they’re either places we try to avoid (Au Bon Pain, Cosi, Starbucks), or they’re just too freaking expensive (Grill Room, SouthWest NY, P.J. Clarke’s). Basically most of them are chain places, with a couple of exceptions like the newly opened Ed’s Lobster Bar Cart and Quality Burger. When I heard they were having an event to sample food from these restaurants, I decided to go check it out because I know a lot of people work at the WFC and I was curious if there was anything worthy of a Midtown Lunch.
Nearly every restaurant and cart at the WFC was participating in the tasting and the large crowd with a mix of tourists and office workers seemed to be enjoying themselves in the blissfully air-conditioned Winter Garden. The event was set up well with quickly moving lines and some security-guard like people yelling at you if you stopped in one place too long and looked like you were cutting in line (not that I did that or anything). I scoped out the menu on the disposable (and biodegradable!) tray you were given and was a little overwhelmed. After discounting most of the chain places, there was still a lot to choose from.
First up, I got the Peking duck pancakes ($5) from Yushi (which also has a location in Midtown) and they weren’t exactly what I was expecting. They were basically like mini duck burritos because the pancakes tasted like flour tortillas to me, and for some reason I was expecting them to be in steamed buns. It came with something like fried rice which was just OK. The wasabi steak sandwich they were serving looked good, but I had other things on my eating agenda. Yushi seems like one of the few places within ML price range in the WFC.
Next up, I decided to go for something a little lighter to leave room in my stomach and got the Baja-style shrimp cocktail ($4) from the Grill Room. It was really good, but was basically like a cold shrimp soup with avocado. I would definitely eat this again, but I’m sure it’s normally about $15 at the restaurant which is waaay out of ML price range.
Finally, I headed outside in the humidity to Quality Burger. I’ve been meaning to check this place out since they opened with a revamped menu and new name at the end of May. Sadly, it’s a hike from the FiDi, but if I worked closer I would definitely eat here.
Since my stomach was kind of flagging at this point (yes, I am a lightweight some days), I got a regular burger that was $4.50 instead of the normal $4.95. It was premade on a massive grill, and I’d have to say it was pretty tasty and actually a little juicy. I’m not quite sure if it’s worth $5 for a plain hamburger, but choices are somewhat minimal in this neck of the woods. I am intrigued by the hot dog they sell that has jalapeno relish on top. Anybody tried it?
So, will I be venturing over to the WFC regularly for lunch? Probably not, unless someone tells me there’s a hidden gem at one of the places here that’s actually $10 or less.