I haven't posted here in a while, but I just wanted to share some brief thoughts with the folks here on some recent lunches I've had on Manhattan's East side, and hopefully get everyone else's thoughts on these places. I'll start with the most recent, since that's most fresh in my mind.
Michelle's Kitchen, Lexington & 61st: I forgot to do a search on this one, so forgive me if it's redundant. Anyway, I went there on a friend's recommendation, just to get a take out sandwich. The spread looks pretty impressive, but I didn't want to scrutinize the entire place on my first visit, so I'll check out their other offerings more thoroughly next time. Anyway, I got a roast beef sandwich with arugula and a cheese that I don't remember the name of (it's a spread, like a creamy stilton, but not as pungent - any help?), along with a Stewart's and a slice of carrot cake (~$10 total). Good sandwich, the baguette was crispy and soft, and everything else pretty decent. Carrot cake was tasty. What I'm really wondering, though, is if there is something here that I've just got to try. Anyone?
Cabana, 3rd Ave & 61st: There is also one in Forest Hills that I haven't been to, but I don't know how large a chain this is. First time I went, I just ordered a simple Cuban sandwich. I was impressed, but I don't have much to compare it with, only one I had once when I was in Tampa. This was comparable, but in a much nicer setting. The service wasn't too attentive the first time, but it was much better when my friend and I went back a second time and sat at a table overlooking the street. This time I ordered the chicken and beef empanadas, with red beans and rice. This was fantastic. Beans and rice were as good as I've had in the city, and the empanadas were cooked to perfection. As a desert, I ordered pastries filled with warm raspberry rice pudding, served with mango ice cream and (I think) passionfruit and mango sauce. This was also very, very good. Service was friendly and attentive, but the street was noisy. With the weather cooling down, I'm sure that won't be a problem anymore. Entrees are usually between $6-11, IIRC, and the dessert was around $5.
Rain, 3rd Ave & low 60's: According to the business card, there is also one on the West side. This place was not at all crowded when we went, which is understandable since I almost walked right past it. It looks like a closed storefront, so it's easy to miss if you don't know it's there. I like the interior decoration. A lot of wood, and some tropical flowers. This place is Thai/Vietnamese, I believe, but I could be mistaken. Service was okay. I think there was a bit of an attitude, which doesn't become a place that's nearly empty. The food was good enough - I ordered the Penang beef in a Malaysian peanut sauce. It was artfully arranged, shredded scallions on top, the sauce was not too thick and not too sweet, like some peanut sauces I have had, and the beef was cooked well, moist, but not too tender. I spent about $15 here.
The Old Stand, 55th & 3rd: This isn't a good place to go for lunch. It's an Irish Pub, so it's probably good to hang out after work. I ordered a cheeseburger, and the only good thing about it was the cheddar cheese. The burger was small, dry, and overcooked. Don't know what I was expecting, but this certainly disappointed. This was a couple weeks ago, but I think I spent around $10.
I know this board tends to be pretty high-brow, but I wanted to share my thoughts on these places in case there's anyone out there like me, looking for a $5-15 dollar lunch on a weekday. If you all could give me your thoughts on these places, or some recommendations on other nearby places to try, I'd appreciate it.