38th Street at Park Ave. South
Upon arrival, I was warmly greeted by the hostess then immediately interrupted by a somewhat rude threesome who stepped in front of me. About a minute and a half later, the hostess comes back (what could have taken her so long?) apologizes with a big smile and brings me to my father, who is, as usual, early and waiting semi-patiently.
The first thing one will notice, aside from the garish paintings in gaudy frames, the midwest black and red brick (smooth surface) walls and generally awkward table sizes, would be the limited lunch menu. I took a look at the menu on their website and thought that there was a mistake and that there would be more offerings. When I had the actual menu in hand, I realized that that was it.
Dad ordered a bottle of Simi Sauvignon Blanc, 2003 which was just fine. Not too heady or memorable, but suited our lunches perfectly.
It must have been a good seven to ten minutes before our waiter came by to take our order. Long enough for me to forget that I hadn't yet ordered.
So when he came, we avoided the $20 "power lunch" that looked quite boring, and each ordered a bowl of their chicken gumbo.
The gumbo had a middle of the road viscosity, which I quite liked. There was enough of a kick to make it interesting and the okra was thin enough to avoid the slimy nature of said vegetable. Overall it was good and the portion was definitely adequate.
With only three entrees to choose from, our non-sandwich or salad choices were fairly limited. Dad went for the roasted salmon with a bunch of different vegetables.
I was tempted to try the burger but I'd already had my burger quota (Pearl Street Diner) for the week and I couldn't imagine that this place would have the chicken club sandwich that I've been looking for all my life, so I went for the chicken marsala with fettuchini and spinach.
Dad's salmon came out looking like it had been tested for doneness a few too many times, though the finished product was quite good.
My chicken was nice and crispy, similar to the version I had at English is Italian with dad, but a bit bronzer (which I like). The marsala lacked any discernable mushroom flavor (I only recall seeing one piece of mushroom), the noodles were overly salted and drying out (that yellowy look was already setting in when I received it) and the spinach was well-wilted but managed to taste more like broccoli rabe than spinach.
But as I said, the chicken was well cooked - nice and juicy and tender with a nice crispy skin.
Would I return...probably not by choice, though for that area of town, it's not a terrible option. It was a good lunch, but the entrees were not something to go back to repeatedly, or for me working in the financial district, not a place to schlep to. Though I bet the half a dozen or so sandwiches, all at a reasonable price point, are worthy of going for if you worked in the neighborhood.
Dinner may very well be a better option, and by the looks of the menu, it probably is, but despite what one member of the rude trio who jumped in front of me said ("this is our new favorite lunch spot"), it needs to improve its service and menu a bit to keep diners interested.
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