I work on Times Square and there are not that many good cafes and restaurants in the area. I mean, there are certain gourmet pearls such as Lamb’s Club and Kellari Taverna, but these spots are good for an after-work drink, not regular lunches. There are also a bunch of fast-food places that I avoid as much as I can. Actually, the entire location helps me to stay healthier than I might be working at another place. There are so many tourists in local cafes over lunch hours that I usually end up bringing my lunch with me. Otherwise you risk to spend the entire lunch heading to the place and waiting in line for your order. However, there are some places that are not that crowded, affordable, and very delicious. One of them is a new for me French bistro Saju that I visited yesterday together with my friend Boris, who is a big shot on Russian TV. Saju is located just a block away from my office (120 W 44th Street, New York, NY 10036), but somehow I never saw it before.
The first thing that I thought was that serving in French cafes takes years. Surprisingly, my Nicoise Salad has been served very quickly —as well as fresh bread with olives and some kind of amazing (and salty!) dip. I was craving protein and a salad with fresh tuna and hard boiled eggs sounded like a good deal. I also enjoyed fresh yellow tomatoes and boiled potatoes topped with olive oil. By the way, I am very specific about my tomatoes (perhaps, I got spoiled in Russia where all vegetables are organic) and these ones smelled and tasted like real ones.
I also liked the design of the restaurant: all these blackboards with the names of the dishes on them and cute vintage posters on the walls. I also noticed some champagne around: interesting, are any of these big shots that are working in the area really sipping rose over their business lunches?
In other words, the lunching experience at Saju was great and I am planning to come back there soon — this time not just for a salad but for some real food. Bouillabaisse Marseillaise (fish medley, shrimp, clams, mussels, Aioli saffron sauce and croutons) and Lapin des Garrigues au Romarin (braised boneless rabbit, sautéed gnocchi, French sweet peas, white wine reduction with fresh rosemary) called for me — I simply must try them!
Writing about my eating experiences on Times Square, I decided that you might be interested to know about other restaurants that I like in that area:
Caffeebene (1611 Broadway, New York, NY 10019). Great place for a quick meeting where you will find various types of coffee and teas as well as pastry and sandwiches. My absolute favorite thing there are homemade waffles with various toppings. This deliciousness smells so good that it is simply impossible to keep yourself in control. I usually go to this place along during my Reading Lunches.
Chop’t (1460 Broadway, New York, NY 10036). It is absolutely one of my favorite salad bars in the area. Fresh veggies, many options to choose from, interesting dressings. The only downturn is that the line to this place over lunch hours is ridiculous! I often end up ordering my Chop’t salad through Seamless which also takes years to deliver. However, if you plan your meal in advance and order your salad about an hour in advance, you should be fine. By the way, my favorite choice of salad at Chop’t is a Palm Beach salad with an extra shrimp and chickpeas with olive oil and a flush of balsamic vinegar.
Sushi Zen (108 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036). This place is fancy and super delicious — perfect for making a right impression on potential clients. Each dish is a piece of art, the restaurant is very neat and pretty. Most customers wear designer suits and fancy Hermes scarves covered with a custom-made perfume. Come by for a sophisticated experience and don’t forget about the dress-code.
Cafe Duke (1450 Broadway, New York, NY 10018). Don’t even try to eat at that place: everything is over fried and generally not good for you. Everything except… latte. It’s amazing how good can coffee be in such a hole. The latte which is perfectly sweet, perfectly creamy, perfectly warm. Add some extra cinnamon on top and you are ready to a rocking day in the office.
Haru Sushi (229 West 43rd Street, New York 10036). This place is just okay for lunch, because these guys work very fast and the quality of food is pretty good for the area. Nothing fancy, but still eatable and affordable. If I go there, I take Tuna Tataki and a couple of hand rolls with fresh salmon and avocado. Be aware though: Haru Sushi does not serve black wild rice, which tastes so good in hand rolls. Otherwise, it is a nice spot worth trying if you work in the area and crave some sushi.
I hope you guys enjoyed my Times Square cafes selection and found some new spots to check over lunch. I wonder what are your to-go places in Midtown Manhattan?