So this place is right by my house and for some reason, I just haven’t been in. There seems to be something about proximity to my house that makes me not go to places, not sure why. One of my good friends, and my Pilates trainer, is a little obsessed with this place and eats there several times a week—so maybe that is why I haven’t eaten there, too worried it might be too healthy. (Only kidding. Well, sort of.) Anyhow, I managed to actually get there a couple of times in the last couple of weeks, so I have included both visits in this post.
The first time I stopped in and grabbed lunch the other day after seeing some discussion on twitter about a crab melts ($6). For some reason, that just sounded appealing to me that day, even though I am normally somewhat suspicious of crab items not sold in a seafood restaurant. And it wasn’t what I was expecting (I was expecting some sort of crab something with a piece of cheese melted on top), but it was pretty darn tasty (apparently there is a loyal following for the sandwich). It was multigrain bread (nice bread by the way) with this crab salad kind of mix with several kinds of cheese, but mixed in, as well as some seasoning—Old Bay type flavors maybe? I am not totally sure. It was warm, and it was filling, but not ridiculously large—you know, it was a normal sandwich size (is there such a thing anymore?). I can see how people become attached.
I also had a cup of the chicken spring roll soup. I had no idea going in what this was going to be, but I was intrigued by the name. I wasn’t as much of a fan of the soup, but it was unique. It was a chicken broth type base with lots of shredded cabbage and onions and noodles made of Asian mushroom pasta. Honestly, wasn’t exactly sure what they were made of when I first tasted the noodles, and there was something about the texture of them that put me off (they were a little too dense). But I love a place that makes interesting kinds of soups in flavors other than tomato basil (is it just me or do you want to scream when you hear that is the soup of the day?).
On my second visit, I went with the sandwich special of the day as well. It was Cajun chicken with guacamole and cheddar cheese on multi-grain bread ($6). It was good—very warm and comforting. The chicken was nicely spiced with Cajun seasonings—but it wasn’t too hot. The chicken itself was cut into smaller slices/chunks which I really, really appreciate. I hate a chicken sandwich that is a whole chicken breast on bread. Here’s why: a) they are always, always dry and overcooked (impossible to get it cooked all the way through and not dry it out); b) there isn’t enough seasoning because it is only on the outside; and c) they end up so fat, they are hard to eat. This was done just right, with bite sized pieces that were all well seasoned and tender. The guacamole is homemade and was really fresh (easy to see if guac has been sitting around too long). My only complaint is it could have used a little more seasoning in it. Not that I mind just avocado—it is one of my favorite foods. And they were very generous with it. The sandwich was warm and the cheese was nicely melted. And again, it was a properly sized portion (in my opinion).
I got a side of potato salad with it and it was unique and tasted good. I like the way they don’t use mayo, but yogurt I believe, and it had a nice dill flavor. The sauce had more of a tangy flavor than potato salad usually does and I liked that. The potato chunks were also cooked right—not hard and not overly mushy. They also gave me a bite of the chicken salad to try and it was similar in flavor—same sort of yogurt type base with some crunch from some celery and similar dill flavor. I liked it and would try a whole chicken salad entrée from there based on my bite. And I am normally not a chicken salad person (no fruit in mine please). I also tried a chocolate chip cookie ($1) that was just as they should be when you make them at home—gooey and soft.
The food is homemade and you can tell. I can see how you could easily eat here a lot because it is so comforting. There are unique touches in what they are doing but it also feels very familiar at the same time. It's like what you might make yourself if you had some time (and some talent). Not super complicated and fairly healthy, but also with thoughts toward making the flavors a little more than your usual chicken salad or whatever. And the portions (and prices) are right—the bread tastes good but doesn’t overwhelm the stuff inside it. The couple that runs it is very nice and friendly. You can see why the place has been around for 14 years—good comfort food at a decent price. And in an area with not so many good options for lunch. Have you guys been?
5741 East 71st Street