Friday, March 6, 2009

Midtown lunch joys and woes

I work on 47th and 5th. I don't like to venture far for lunch. Unless I'm meeting someone for lunch, I try to keep the transaction brisk. So I restrict my lunch options to the businesses clustered on 47th st. between 5th and Madison.
I usually end up going to Blue Flowers, which is only across the street. The short review: fast, lots of choices, tasty, generous portions and cheap(ish) - can't compare to Chinatown, of course.
The long review: They have excellent breakfast and lunch options. Plus they are very quick and efficient. For breakfast, they do lovely made to order eggs and they have a good choice of breads, rolls, etc. For lunch, my hubby likes their burritos (a good deal at $6.95, and way better tasting than the yuckier ones at Qdoba and Cavonberry. Hubby gets the vegetarian version, while I highly recommend the spicy beef. No extra charge for guac. *Doing victory dance*.) while I generally go for the hot entrees. As far as hot entrees goes - the roasted 1/2 chicken is to die for, jerk chicken pretty good (kind of lemony), pecan encrusted chicken awesome (but very salty, I get extremely thirsty after but it's generally worth the torture), teriyaki beef brisket, salmon, sesame chicken and chicken with broccoli very good. I've nevered tried the always-available chicken cutlet, chicken parm and cajun chicken (which looks like the chicken cutlet with orange-colored cheese melted on it). So on a daily basis, I get one of the hot entrees mentioned and add two sides (usually rice with steamed vegetables) and the price is 7.95 for chicken, 8.95 for beef and 9.95 for salmon dishes. Oh how can I forget that for the days my hot entrees aren't available, there are a few other choices. There's a neat little section in the back where you can get Korean and Japanese inspired fare that's decent. The bi bim bap (don't order it if you're Korean) is good - request it with brown rice and get the beef version, so are so soba noodle soups (don't ever order shrimp tempura, you will be hungry, sad and definitely regretting paying extra for only 2 pieces of floured covered skinny-ass previously frozen shrimps) and the "sushi" is OK (good deal on the cooked salmon roll - only $4.95 for a big portion). Finally, they make a delicious whole wheat brick oven pizza. Mmmmm.
Now for the complaints. I cannot believe how bad service is here. From the middle (as the Asian guy in the back of the store who prepares the "Asian" fare is really nice and friendly) of the store to the front, only assholes work there. (This probably doesn't need any mentioning, but I'm sure this wouldn't apply to any well-endowed, friendly, provocatively-dressed women.) I've gotten into a few verbal altercations with all of them about the stupidest things and have many times stopped myself from getting into more hostile confrontations. And this is coming from a person who doesn't like to speak up about these things. Any way, if I had better options, I'd drop them like a hot flaming potato. I cannot believe how terrible the customer service is and how clueless the employees are about what service means.
Today, I re-discovered Cafe Metro. This will become my new go-to place when I can't deal with bad service. But I'll have to eat less...
They don't rush you like their Type-A-got-ants-in-my-pants-and-I'm-going-to-give-them-to-you-too counterparts - the Blue Flowers and Hale+Hearty ilk (BTW, it usually costs me $9 or more for lunch there and I'm still hungry). The fare is leaning towards being marketed as "gourmet". I deeply enjoyed my organic black bean soup with spicy cajun chicken pressini (heated/toasted, yum!) for $7.49, including a bottle of water or soda. Best of all, I discovered that you can order online for today, tomorrow and the next day and it's cheaper than going in the store!. The website is My only complaint is that my lunch was kind of small compared to my regular gorge of gluttony at Blue Flowers.


david said...
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david said...

How interesting!

I just happen to work on 47th and 5th as well. And coincidentally, I also usually go to the eateries between 5th and Mad, especially Blue Flowers.

I would agree that Blue Flowers has good food, decent portions, variety and fast service. I think they are moderate for a deli in this area in terms of price…they certainly aren’t as cheap as Scott’s on 48th between 5th and 6th.

The food is well prepared and of good quality. Portions are large, and the food always looks very fresh (the chicken cutlets are still crispy at lunch). The restaurant is clean and well-maintained. The variety they offer is excellent for a deli this size: in addition to the sushi, salad, pizza and burrito bars they have a selection of entrees, hot, cold and pressed sandwiches and panini. The pizza is wood fired or something fancy.

One very nice feature about this deli is that they bake their own cookies and bagels. The bagels are very good because they are fresh.

There is a small selection of fruit. When in season it is usually fresh and unbruised. They offer a fresh fruit, yogurt and granola parfait in the mornings that is quite acceptable.

I happen to think the service here is excellent. These guys work hard and fast, with easily the courtesy and friendliness I enjoy in others.

I will say one negative thing about Blue Flowers: sometimes if I went down there late for lunch (like past two thirty) if I ordered a sandwich I would get a slightly stale roll. It’s happened like three times over the past five or six years, and I kind of figure that’s just because hey, lunchtime is over. Can’t expect perfection every time. And I would bet you if I went back (since they know me) they would fix it.

In sum, a good deli.

Cassandra Jupiter said...

Hi David, I'm glad they're nice to you. However, many people have agreed with me about the poor service. It is hard to work's always crowded and the people are super efficient.