A Collection of Famous Eateries Arrive In Bryant Park
Midtown East does some things very well, the indispensable Grand Central and Bryant Park among them, but the neighborhood around these two landmarks definitely isn't known as a great place to grab a bite to eat. Lots of unappealing sandwich-and-salad chains, mediocre burger bars, the odd fro-yo joint. If you work in the immediate vicinity, you know how uninspiring lunchtime can be, which is why last month's UrbanSpace Garment District food market was such a hit. Suddenly, though, all of that blahness seems to have changed, with a pair of crucial new additions: Alidoro, one of the city's best sandwich shops, and Blue Bottle, ditto, but for coffee, both joining another vital baked-goods newcomer, the incomparable Maison Kayser And all just in time for ice skating season!
Alidoro: The Spiritual Sandwich Experience Comes to Midtown
First, the new Midtown version of Soho's legendary sandwich shop, Alidoro, which, when it opened this week on 39th Street near 5th Avenue, was immediately greeted by hour-long lines at peak lunch. Fortunately for me, by the time I arrived in the late afternoon everyone had cleared out, and so I got to devour the restaurant's namesake sandwich in relative peace. And let me tell, this is a thing of beauty: it's huge-*, for one thing, easily split-able at lunch; all of the ingredients–thinly-sliced prosciutto, hot and sweet peppers, abundant arugula, crunchy fennel, rich mushroom paste, fiery "hot spread"–were bright and fresh and piled high; the bread (I opted for a semolina loaf) held its own; and the notoriously grumpy Alidoro staff actually lets you do add-ons at the Midtown branch, so I eagerly requested some of their fresh mozzarella, which was amazing. A great, great sandwich.
If you're playing hooky to go skating in Bryant Park this season (or sending your out-of-town visitors to do the same), this is your pre- or post-ice-time fuel. And next spring and summer, for picnics in the park? Oh man, this is perfect. Alidoro does egg sandwiches in the morning, too. And though right now Alidiro is strictly a weekday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. operation, they told me that dinner and weekend sandwiches are possibly coming soon, if and when they can secure their beer and wine license. For more info and daily updates make sure to follow Alidoro on twitter, too!
Sweet Treats from Blue Bottle Coffee and Maison Kayser
Speaking of perfect (and also new this week), the great West Coast import Blue Bottle Coffee just opened its seventh NYC outpost right across from Bryant Park on the other side of 40th Street, offering all sorts of excellent ways to bring you caffeine and warmth. And, not incidentally, quality pastries as well. I usually get the Blue Bottle pour-over, which is always strong, complex, and invigorating, but the fancier drinks–espressos, lattes, and a high-powered cold-brew–are also on tap. But if it's truly top-of-the-line baked goodies you're looking for, step a few doors down to Maison Kayser which, among other things, makes some of my absolute favorite cookies in town. We've raved plenty about Eric Kayser's baking prowess before, and this Midtown edition is no exception. For more information about Blue Bottle, see here. For Maison Kayser hours and offerings, go here.
* For scale, this is my sandwich, and my iPhone 5.