Archive for '52nd btw Lex+3rd'

Ground Central is a Cool New Coffee Shop, But is it a Good Lunch Option?

Ground Central Coffee Company, a small coffee shop that opened on 52nd St. (btw Lex+3rd) last month, boasts a lunch menu with sandwiches that sound really good. And with price tags just below and sometimes above the ML limit, you’d expect them to be really good. But before we get to that, let me just say that Ground Central is a really cool coffee shop. It’s got a nice drink menu of coffees and teas and a nicely decorated interior with plenty of seating. It’s definitely somewhere I’d go to relax over a hot drink. They’ve also got a bunch of tasty-looking baked goods like madeleines, chocolate chip cookies, and financiers. And when you buy a sandwich or salad, you get a free drink.

But is it a good lunch option?

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Portland’s Cafe Today Going Up Next to Chipotle

Earlier this week, we received a tip from Lunch’er “Nick” about activity in the former Tomatoes space next to Chipotle on 52nd btw. 3rd + Lex. I went by for a look, and there does indeed seem to be a Cafe Today going up in that location. According to their website, they are a Portland, Oregon-based chain serving a variety of soups, salads, sandwiches, etc. as well as offering corporate catering. Are there any Portlanders out there who can let us know if this is something to get excited about?

Asian Station Might Be the First Multi Ethnic Restaurant to Ever Be Good

Asian Station

As much as I love Asian food of all kinds, there is one thing I can’t stand.  The Asian Combo Restaurant.  You know what I’m talking about.  The Chinese food restaurant that serves sushi, or the Vietnamese food place that serves pad thai.  I’m not talking about fusion cuisine, which is an entity all itself.  I’m talking about the restaurant that decides they are going to serve something for everybody- and inevitably ends up doing it none of it well.

So when Asian Station opened on 52nd btw. Lex+3rd, I was naturally skeptical.  In fact, I had written the place off knowing that it was probably too expensive for Midtown Lunch purposes. But once Lunch’er Joe forwarded along the all under $10 menu, I knew I’d have to check it out.  My cheap Asian food loving stomach won out over my combo restaurant hating brain.  And boy am I glad it did.

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Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote is My Kind of Splurge

Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote, a famous French chain with a one item menu (steak frites), just opened their first location in the U.S. on the corner of 52nd and Lex. Even though the $24 price tag puts it well out of the Midtown Lunch price range, their special herb sauce topping looks amazing and they bring you a second serving of steak and french fries after you finish your first. Sounds like my kind of place! [Serious Eats: New York]

Asian Station May (Surprisingly) Be A Midtown Lunch

Asian Station

I’ll admit I completely dismissed Asian Station, the new semi-chic looking Asian restaurant that opened over a month ago next to Bombay Bistro on 52nd btw. 3rd+Lex. Aside from it being a little too cool for school, they didn’t have a menu in the window- and from the looks of it, there was no way it was going to be cheap enough for Midtown Lunch’ing purposes. I do love Asian food though, so I was excited to hear yesterday that their lunch specials are actually well under $10! That’s the good news. The bad news is, they serve Japanese, Chinese, AND Thai food.

Lunch’er Joe was kind enough to transcribe the menu for us. It’s after the jump…

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Diwan’s Manager Opens His Own Indian Buffet


If there is one thing that Midtown is not lacking in, it’s the all you can eat Indian buffet- and while we don’t really have any buffets that are under $10 anymore, there are still enough $11 buffets to make the $15+ buffets not worth it (as far as I’m concerned).  So, I never paid much attention to Diwan, the upscale Indian restaurant owned by the same people who own Jackson Diner in Queens- which apparently closed last September (Diwan, not the Jackson Diner- obviously).  I am interested, however, in this bit of news:  Diwan’s manager of 15 years, has gone on to open his own Indian Restaurant on 52nd btw. Lex+3rd called Bombay Bistro… and their lunchtime buffet is $10.95.  So, with the buffet team in tow, I headed over to this newly opened buffet to take it for a test drive.

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Everything You Wanted to Known About FreeFoods NYC But Were Too Cheap to Try

Clearly I wasn’t going to win the free lunch for a month from FreeFoods contest with the essay I wrote (although surpringly they included one of my quotes in a list of their “submissions,” even though I never technically entered it), so I probably won’t be eating at the super expensive upscale organic deli owned by Matthew Kenney anytime soon. (Many have commented that it tastes good, but I just can’t bring myself to spend the money.) But I know there are a lot of vegetarians, and organic food enthusiasts (it’s not all vegetarian stuff) who can afford it, and lucky for those people Kathy YL Chan (from A Passion For Food) was willing to take a hit for the team, and eat her way through the FFNYC menu. Here is her report… (those who get offended by overpriced healthy food, avert your eyes now.)

Full disclaimer: I am a pork lover, I am a foie gras lover, and prefer my bread toasted with melted lard smothered over the top. I eat dessert till no end, and then chase it with a beer or two. But every now and then, it’s rather interesting and fun to delve into the vegan world. Hence, my report on FreeFoodsNYC (which is not entirely vegan, or vegetarian for that matter.)

The new FreeFoods NYC is exactly what we don’t need in this economy: very fancy-smanshy, very-expensive organic, vegan, and raw food version of a standard Midtown deli. Regardless, it’s pretty tasty and I’ll confess to a growing addiction.

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FreeFoods NYC Opens Second Location Today

The second location of Matt Kenney’s FreeFoods NYC opened this morning on 52nd btw. Lex+3rd in the old F&B Gudtfood space. The original location (on 45th btw. 5+6th) was always a little too rich for my taste, but vegetarians, vegans, and fans of organic food who work in Midtown East (and don’t mind spending the extra money) should be excited for this new option. Maybe if the economy rebounds, or I win the lottery, I’ll try their by the pound buffet (it looks pretty damn amazing.) They will open at 10am every day this week, with breakfast and regular hours (7:30 am opening time) beginning next Monday.

FreeFoods NYC, 150 E. 52nd St. (btw. Lex+3rd), -212-302-7195

It’s No Ikea, But F&B Gudtfood Will Have to Do

I still hold out hope that one day Manhattan will get an IKEA.  It’s probably futile, but a guy can dream, right?  The funny thing is, I don’t even care about the furniture.  I just want an IKEA Cafe!  In my eyes, the cheap furniture shopping world is divided into two seperate groups.  Those who have gotten over the fear at eating in an Ikea, and those who haven’t. 

There are a few stages that every Ikea shopper goes through.  First, denial.  You see the signs for the food and laugh.  “Who the hell would eat at Ikea?  That food looks gross!”.  Then, after a few times of going to Ikea (you never get everything done in one trip), the curiosity starts to seep in.  “Well, it is pretty cheap.  It can’t be that bad, right?  It’s just so damn cheap!”  Finally, you submit.  It helps if you forget to eat before going shopping- in which case you end up being starving after navigating through the gigantic store, with no other food options.

I went through all these stages, and when I came out on the other end, I had discovered a new weakness… swedish meatballs.  Covered in gravy and topped with lingonberries, they are perfect for anybody who loves the sweet and salty combo.  And at around $4 for ten meatballs, it couldn’t be any cheaper.  Awhile back I wrote about a fancy Swedish meatball sandwich at FIKA Swedish Espresso bar.  Super delicious (but expensive), I lamented that there was no equivalent to Ikea in Midtown.

After writing that, a tipster recommended that I check out F&B Gudtfood, a “European Street Food” chain on 52nd btw. Lex+3rd.  Founded by one guy from Germany and one from England, they wanted to start a place where you could get all the street food they enjoyed in their travels around Europe  Fancy hot dogs, fish and chips, frites with different dipping sauces, and of course- Swedish meatballs.

I finally made it over to F&B to see if I had found an Ikea replacement.  What they’ve got, pictures and a +/- after the jump Read more »

Chicken Bar vs. Ranch1 (The Epic Battle!!!)

I love Ranch 1.  I wrote about it a few weeks ago, and while I know not everyone is on board- I stand behind what I originally said.  If you are looking for a grilled chicken sandwich, that tastes like real chicken, and french fries that taste like they are made from real potatoes (plus you don’t mind a chicken breast that has been pounded thin before being grilled) then Ranch 1 is your place.  It’s one of the few fast food places my wife actually likes (loves is a more appropriate word)- and any place she’s into, where I can “get fries with that”, is alright with me!  (Click here to read the original Ranch 1 post)

So, you can imagine my confusion when I started seeing these new Chicken Bar’s popping up.  The first one, I saw on 8th Ave. and 45th St…. and then another on 52nd and Lexington.  Same colors… similar logo… it’s chicken.  Very strange.  I couldn’t believe that this new chain was clearly ripping off Ranch 1.  Did they really think that their chicken sandwich was going to be that much better to support 2 chicken chains like this in the city???  I decided a visit was in order, and last week I headed to this “Chicken Bar” with every intention of pitting it against Ranch1 in a “one on one” fast food chicken battle of death.  (I would have liked to have made it a 3 man battle royale, but sadly there is no Chick Fil-A in Midtown…)

Arriving at the Chicken Bar on Lexington & 52nd, I was reminded again of how similar the logos are to each other.  Both have got the yellow, red and white thing going… but the Chicken Bar sign is clearly newer- and a bit nicer.  I like the abstract, “hidden” chicken head in the Ranch1 logo, over the obvious big chicken in the Chicken Bar logo, but a vinyl awning can’t touch the class of a 3-D neon style sign.  Chicken Bar 1, Ranch1 Zero.

Both places have “employees” giving out $1 off coupons around the corner from their respective restaurants.  I think it’s pretty obvious who wins this one.  No offense to the lady on the right… I’m sure she cleans up real nice- but she is clearly not a gigantic yellow chicken.  Ranch 1 ties it up… One to One.

The truth is, who cares about the coupons, and the signs and the big yellow chicken (well, actually- I care about the chicken so that’s a bad example).  The food is the most important.  What I ordered, and conclusion of the fierce battle that will literally cause your brain to explode in disbelief…. after the jump.

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