Went to Cafeteria on Sunday and had a better than expected experience.
The place isn't loved by many on the board, and I had my doubts. But we ended up having an enjoyable meal.
Mother-in-law = mac and cheese
Father-in-law = mussels
Brother-in-law = salad with portabello and warm goat cheese
Wife = mac and cheese
me = tomato and basil soup
The Mac and cheese was excellent. Remarkably better than the slop they are serving at Blue Smoke these days (their's used to be really good) and you actual taste the fontina not just "generic cheese". Nice and crispy on top. Definitely worth getting.
The mussels were very good as well. The broth was better than passable, but certainly not the best I've had. It was a wine, lemon and garlic broth. No tomato.
The salad looked good..but in the end, is really just a salad. I did not have any of this so can't account for the taste.
The tomato and basil soup was very good. It had a nice roasted tomato taste and included a swirl of both creme fraiche and basil oil. Delicious soup. Perfect for warming up after a walk in Central Park. I'd trust their soups again.
Mother-in-law = Meatloaf
Father-in-law = Burger with Blue Cheese
Brother-in-law = Green Eggs and Ham
Wife = Fried Chicken and waffles
me = grilled chicken sandwich
Apparently both the meatloaf and burger (huge portions) were very good. The green eggs (pesto flavored) were, as reported, very good, but the ham left much to be desired. The ham just didn't look good. I feel somewhat bad for my brother-in-law, as his picks weren't the best that Cafeteria had to offer. Danna's fried chicken and waffles were good. Standard. Nothing spectacular.
My sandwich came on some delicious bread, fresh avocados and crispy bacon. A success. I am, however, not a fan of thick cut steak fries. They never have appealed to me and again, didn't like these that much.
Danna ordered a white chocolate raspberry bread pudding to take home. This was very good.
Ice Tea - Their iced tea is excellent. I knew it would be great just by the color. If you like unsweetened tea, there's is worth a try. One of the best I've had in NYC.
Bloody Mary - Apparently they use jalepeno infused vodka. I was underwhelmed by it. Too tomatoey, too liquidy and just not all that great. Skip their bloody mary.
Service was pretty good for us. We got really lucky - given the big table right behind the wall of the reception area as soon as we arrived. So that definitely helped.
The waiter was good. Only showed up when needed. Food came out a little spotty but overall decent for a busy brunch (and we got their late - 2:45pm).
The place is definitely "lived in". You can tell its been around awhile (the vinyl booth was starting to show its age - but hardly to the level of the same table at Blue Ribbon). But its still a cheery place. A modern-ish diner that seems to have its gears still greased.
Overall, it was fine. I'd go back...especially to try their waffles or other breakfast items. They looked very, very good. The 24 hour schedule is also helpful, so a nice drunken night out on the town might see me back there again as well.