some casual lunches. very casual.

Not every meal is a dressy white-tablecloth event, and I thought I'd 
share some of the lunches out that we've enjoyed recently.

Schnitzel & Things. This is a teeny restaurant and take-out counter on Third Avenue in the 30's, serving only schnitzel - wiener schnitzel, chicken schnitzel, pork schnitzel - and appropriate trimmings, that is, warm potato salad, spaetzle, sauerkraut, etc. That's what they do, and they do it very well. And greaselessly. The concern started as a food truck and now they have a brick-and-mortar establishment as well. The truck's hours and locations are on its website, but if you want a good quick inexpensive meal because you're in town to shop, why you'd want to stand in the street eating schnitzel and kraut eludes me. The restaurant is stereotypically clean, bright and organized. Lecker!

Another hole-in-the-wall on Third Avenue is Carl's Steaks, which also has a limited menu. They have cheese steaks. Good cheese steaks, for New York. The dilemma: if you get them to go, the rest of the sandwich has devoured the bread by the time you get home. On the other hand, if you eat on the spot, that is, if you can snag one of the really tiny tables, when you leave you and your clothes smell like cheese steak. We leave our coats in the car, and I throw the shirts and jeans in the washer and me in the shower afterwards.

Lansky's is on Columbus Avenue between 70th and 71st Streets, and the kindest thing I can say about it is that maybe we went on a bad day. One of us ordered a hamburger. They burned it. They were out of pastrami. How does a New York-style deli run out of pastrami? They were also out of whipped cream, which would seem not to matter, except that I had ordered one of their "famous" chocolate shakes. Who knew they wanted to top the shake with whipped cream? After chasing the server around to get her attention, I learned what the problem was, and told her to skip the topping. Please. Unfortunately they also skipped the chocolate syrup. Oh dear. Not recommended.

Grand Sichuan, in the West Village, 15 Seventh Avenue South, 2 blocks below West 4th Street. Best. Hot-and Sour Soup. Ever. There are a number of Grand Sichuans, they're related, but this one is special. Really. We have the soup, then we look around to see which group (or pair) of Asian diners looks particularly happy and contented, and we have what they're having.

Minetta Tavern, 113 McDougal Street at Minetta Lane, also in the Village. The French dip sandwich is served only at lunch, has been only certain lunches (Friday, Saturday), but our server said they were thinking of adding more days. Anyway, the sandwich is simply fabulous. Actually, the restaurant was full of people, not everyone was having the French dip, and everything that was carried past us looked good. Himself had to drag me away. A reservation is usually a good idea.

John Brown's Smokehouse. Barbecue is hard to find in New York, good barbecue - well, you really have to hunt for it. There are some "barbecue" places in Manhattan, and the best I can say is "meh." At present, my suggestion is that you get over the 59th Street Bridge (recently renamed the "Ed Koch 59th Street Bridge", and I'm glad that if they had to do that, they did it while Mayor Ed is still alive to enjoy it --) where was I? Oh, get directions from their website. New York City consists of 5 boroughs and Manhattan is only one of them. Lately, a lot has been written about the tiny places in Brooklyn where some beard-and-flannel-shirt type cooks whever he feels like on a grate between 2 rocks, which sounds like the Adam Arkin part on Northern Exposure. Anyway, John Brown's is in the Borough of Queens, in Long Island City to be exact, not in Brooklyn, but if you need a heavyset guy in a flannel shirt to enjoy your food, go here. Have the burnt ends, have the pulled pork, have the brisket, I like the cole slaw... First class. All the indicia of good Q, also - it's in an industrial area, the smoker is out behind the restaurant, you can get a scent of the smoke as you approach (concession to finicky New Yorkers: it's well-ventilated inside), and lots of cops and firemen eat here.)

Next up, although possibly not immediately: shopping tour series.


  1. I'm getting hungry just reading these.

    I know what you mean about smelling like the restaurant you dine in... That smelly hair is the worst, and since mine is quite long, it really gets to me. :)

  2. Hi, Rose, stay tuned, I'm outlining a couple of shopping trips to Manhattan, inspired by the JC salesperson who told me she could check if one of the other JCs had my shirt and I'd get a call in 2 hours. no thanks, I can walk over and be finished in 12 minutes, said I, but I wondered iwhat I would have done if I didn't live here.

  3. Southern Belle Ph.D.February 22, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Hi Wellfedfred, This is so very interesting! I am thrilled to read that you too like hole-in-the-wall places to eat. I, personally, think they are some of the best. Knowing you are a food expert, (forgive the layman's term)I am also interested to learn that you eat out a lot...or so it seems. We do as well but that is because I am not a "food expert." I often wondered if you prepared wonderful meals each and every day.

    I await the shopping tour as well. This is really a helpful and great idea you have. Hope you will also review any special "finds" you have made.

    OT question: I recently traveled from a large international airport to a very small but international airport in the making. We flew Southwest and every passenger in the large airport AND in the very small airport was body scanned. I do not travel as frequently or geographically diversely as you do so I was wondering if that is the norm. TIA

  4. hi, SouthernBelle, glad you enjoyednthe post!

    I do love to cook, but not lunch! We manage to get out to dinner once or twice a week, but when I cook at home for just the two of is, I eliminate a lot of the trimmings, that is, no string of appetizers, most of the time not even a first course, and my preferred mains are things that simmer a long time and are a meal-in-one. This developed because we tend to gobble up everything that's put in front of us, and this way we get a fighting chance of eating less. Gives new meaning to the expression "fat chance."

    airport security - well, as Himself says, c'mon, look who does it. You wouldn't want these people to have any discretion. Anyway, I just checked with him, neither of us remembers anything other than the usual walk-thru bell ringers at JFK, Miami Intl, Key West, or Fort Myers. I do remember reading that all new installations will be the booth-type scanners, so maybe that's it?

  5. Southern Belle Ph.D.February 22, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Thank you WFF for the airport info. I was just caught offguard and entered the booth not sure what to do. Spread legs apart, arms over head and my brain immediately clicked into mammogram mode. I was probably the only dodo holding one's breath for the seven seconds. Oh well, we are about to have a commuter marriage so I guess one or both of us will just have to tolerate the scans.

    THank you also for aiding me in guilt reduction. I like the meal-in-one concept although I do cheat and use the Bertolini brand meals frequently. They are better than my own. My issue is not knowing how to use spices appropriately.

    Thank you again for your response!

  6. Beautiful sense of style and very nice blog! Congratulations on your work!
    Would you like to follow each other?
    Fashionhypnotised girl


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