Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Union Fare Gastrohall

7 E. 17th St

Rating: 4 - Just Fine
Visits: First time
Haven't heard much buzz for the newly opened cafeteria style food hall, Union Fare, though it was a bustle today with lunch goers. We skipped the poke line, the pizza and tacos and headed for burgers in the back. M. thought her $6 cheeseburger was decent enough to have again though I had it without cheese and won't try that blandness again. Similarly the onion rings had no flavor, but the french fries at least were decent. The pizzas looked tempting and we may try them next time.

Tacombi Cafe El Presidente

30 W. 24th St, NY, NY 10010

Rating: 3 - Feeling Good
Visits: Once in a while
We hadn't been to Tacombi in awhile, the memory of their too small tacos and thus not cheap lunches lingering in our minds. But they've upped the size of tacos to more substantial portions. Not knowing that we over-ordered but I would happily go back for a breakfast taco and a plate of chips and fresh guacamole. The guacamole was so nice that it reminded us of that old favorite, Cafe El Portal, now no longer.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Petite Abeille

44 W. 17th St, NY, NY 10010

Rating: 4 - Just Fine
Visits: Once in awhile
There is an entire category of places we go because they have been around forever and despite sometimes lackluster menus, we go to support the spaces that add depth and character to the city. Petite Abeille is one such place. There is nothing particularly exciting about the menu, but it's charming in the back dining room with a patina of age worth sinking into.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Gander

15 W. 18th St, NY, NY 10011

Rating: 3 - Feeling Good
Visits: First time
We have this funny, I think European in origin, birthday tradition where the person who's birthday it is, treats the other to a nice birthday lunch. Last month I took M. to Cosme, newly opened for lunch, and today we tried The Gander with its recently revamped menu. The $35 prix fixe consists of two courses. We shared a fried calamari salad, sea trout tartare, duck breast and scallops. The scallops were perfectly grilled and accompanied by chantrelles and peas, lovely. The duck breast surprised us with a bit of five spice Asian flavor and broccoli. Quite a serene and lovely restaurant with its sage green banquettes.

New York Bakery

51 W. 29th St, NY, NY 10001

Rating: 4 - Just Fine
Visits: First visit
Don't let the incongruous name confuse you, New York Bakery is an amalgamation of Korean and Mexican dishes where you can order fish tacos and Korean bulgogi with kimchi tacos from the same smiling guy. It's an itty bitty space, run down and easily cramped, but the attitude is so overwhelmingly friendly that it's a pleasant place to perch on a stool and get a little messy with bulgogi tacos that ooze flavor.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Little Park

Smyth Hotel, 85 W. Broadway, NY, NY 10007

Rating: 3 - Feeling Good
Visits: First time
The main seating area may be reserved for reservations but the bar at Little Park is the perfect perch for a quiet, casual lunch. I was quite impressed with Andrew Carmellini's grilled rainbow trout, accompanied by celery, dill and potatoes - a lovelier combination I could not imagine. It's not a cheap lunch, but it's a delicious one.

Monday, June 13, 2016


174 Fifth Ave, NY, NY 10010 (btwn 22nd and 23rd Sts)

Rating: 2 - Super Happy
Visits: Occasionally
Diners like Eisenberg's are becoming increasingly rare. You just can't build up a patina of history and grease like that over night. But Eisenberg's at least, shows no signs of slowing down. We grabbed two counter stools, right in front of the short order cook, and ordered fried bologna sandwiches and a side of french fries, which we ate while watching burgers sizzle on the grill. And chased everything down with a can of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda.

Friday, June 10, 2016


16 W. 23rd St, NY, NY 10010

Rating: 2 - Super Happy
Visits: Often
If you asked me to choose between the Lenwich (hot pastrami, corned beef, cole slaw, swiss and russian dressing) of the Italian, it would be impossible. The Lenwich is for when you're craving substantial heft and a saltiness cut through with a tangy russian dressing and cole slaw. The Italian is when you need the perfect Italian combo, and I mean perfect. The balance of salami and cappicola could not be improved on, and the shredded lettuce elevates the entire sandwich.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

al Vicoletto

9 E. 17th St, NY, NY 10003

Rating: 3 - Feeling Good
Visits: Just started going
Here's a nice place to put on your lunch list for when you want slightly nicer than takeout but not fancy white tablecloths - al Vicoletto. We discovered it a couple months ago when the line for Laut was out the door. What makes it especially sweet is the openness of the dining room but also that all the panini's are $10, the pastas under $15 and if you really want to splurge on skirt steak, that will only set you back $18. The chicken paillard is a bit light all on its own, but the pasta we had last time was pretty satisfying.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


62 W. 22nd St, NY, NY 10010

Rating: 3 - Feeling Good
Visits: Sometimes
If only the newly opened and already packed Bite in the Flatiron District would (1) straighten out their ordering situation. Having two separate counters, one at the front of the bar and one at the back, is utterly confusing. Especially when there is an entirely separate crowd of waiting people to confuse the issue. And (2) they really need to provide menus before you approach the bar. Either in paper form, or written up front where the seating is. It creates all sorts of inefficient flows between people deciding what to eat, waiting to order and waiting for the food. But despite those two glaring things, we had a tasty soup and sandwich meal, watching the downpour of rain. The lentil soup and the tomato soup were both just perfect for a damp afternoon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


9 W. 32nd St, NY, NY

Rating: 2 - Super Happy
Visits: Often
I don't know why it makes me happy that the old Gahm Mi Oak moved and became Gammeeok except that they added more things to their menu so that M. can go and have her favorite summer soup, mul naengmyun, and I can have my usual soellongtang. Today we were the only non-Korean speaking lunchers in their new second floor space.

Monday, June 6, 2016


80 Madison Ave, NY, NY 10013 (28th St)

Rating: 4 - Just Fine
Visits: 1st time
There is a strange confluence of Middle Eastern/Lebanese restaurants near us, all fancy white table cloth ones. I picked a random one, Byblos, on Madison Ave above the park. Tucked inside the menu was a $16.50 lunch special consisting of soup or salad, main entree and coffee or tea. Along with very good hommus, a tart and refreshing tabboule and a deliciously grilled kafta kabob, we were also served inedible pita that was so stiff with age that it could hardly be eaten. The falafel was not much better. The conclusion is two bad tastes in a lunch of pretty good tastes and a reasonable lunch special offering. I suspect there are other more tasty things on the menu but we might need a bigger group of lunchers to try it out.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Izakaya Nomad

13 W. 26th St, NY, NY 10010

Rating: 4 - Just Fine
Visits: Occasionally
The service last year at Izakaya Nomad was so bad it took months before we went back. I'm happy to report the service is more consistant, but not the food. Or rather, last time we had ramen and were surprised by slices of stunningly delicious pork. The flavors were deep and smokey and it fell apart in your mouth. This time, the flavor was still very good but the meat not as tender as previously. Maybe in another year they will really be on their game with consistant service AND food. We will keep you posted.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


200 Fifth Ave, NY, NY 10010

Rating: 3 - Feeling Good
Visits: Often
It's a shame I'm so addicted to the crudo focaccia sandwich at Eataly because it's disgraceful how long the line takes. It's not the length of the line either, it could be three people in front of you or eight and it would still take forever. I spent time today trying to figure out why everything was taking so long, and I come to no conclusion. Still. I'm not sure I can stay away from the pre-made sandwiches of prosciutto, tomato and arugula, tucked away on the side of the bread and focaccia counter. The sandwich is light and airy, and I adore the saltiness of the prosciutto balanced with the olive oil dressing, crackled pepper soaked into the tomatoes. Not a sandwich you want to eat on the go as it requires two hands to hold it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Rafiqi's Food Cart

5th Ave, above 23rd St, north west corner

Rating: 3 - Feeling Good
Visits: 1st time cart, 2nd Rafiqi's
The first time we stopped at a Rafiqi's red blazing cart was the location north of Union Square, in front of the Petco. Everyone in front of us had very specific orders like "a little bit of tomatoes, some hot sauce, a handful of olives, lots of white sauce" or "some red sauce, a bit of corn, a bit of onions, no lettuce". Of course when we got to the front we made no such stipulations, resulting in a gyro that had the typical lettuce, tomato, white sauce and red sauce but also olives, chickpeas, corn, onions and who knows what else. This time we stopped at our more local cart in front of Marimekko and were pleased to discover a damn good gyro, especially the tart white sauce. It was a meat heavier than normal so we might actually ask for extra tomatoes next time.