Thanks to chowhound, Dena, who reassured me that today WAS the restaurant food sampling day, I sampled some spectacular dishes from four participating places, that, collectively, would have cost me about $250 to have dined at! (But why doesn't the NYT publish their ad on the actual date, as well as in the Wed. food section? I almost missed it!)
1. First to Ben Benson (52nd St) to take back to work their $5 tender, sliced steak sandwich, served on a baguette-type roll with add-it-yourself steak sauce, pickles and a handful of potato chips.
Last year they automatically put the contents, which can be quite messy, in a silver-foil container with a plastic lid to carry back to your office, etc. (This was one huge sandwich--not for street consumption on a hot, sticky day.) THIS year, to discourage people from making Ben Benson their take-home dinner stop--they not only limited the sandwiches to two-per-person (fair enough)--BUT--they suddenly removed the containers' top lids from the table. Which meant you had no way to transport the sandwich, without it getting all over the paper bag they offered you. My protests to the servers got me the answer "they took the lids away to keep people from doing "take-out." Really angry at this point, I went up to the door to ask the head person "Do you mean we have to consume this on the spot?" "No, of course not," was this sensible employee's answer--and he walked right back into the restaurant--and placed all the lids back on the table, telling the servers to "for goodness sake, let people cover their sandwiches." It was a strange incident--but at least they did the right thing when the crowd turned ugly. And the steak was worth it.
2. Club 21's wonderful soft-shell crab sandwich (which included a bottle of Fuji mineral water) for $5.
3. Estiatorio Milo's (West 55th St) $5 portion of fresh Char in a light tomato sauce.
4. The Manhattan Ocean's Club's fantastic $5 monkfish in a light curry/coconut sauce on pineapple rice. (Not at all too sweet.)
5. San Domenico's (59th St) $3 portion of a Tuscan tomato dish (tomatoes crushed into a paste with soft chunks of bread.)
It was, as always, too hot and humid for me to truly enjoy the great outdoors--but I have to admit some things are worth suffering for! My sister and I shared all our portions and took the rest home. A lot of good food for very little money. And it went to a good cause. Maybe, tho--next year--the sponsor will hold the event in October??
Who else went out on the streets today? And what did you eat?