Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lunch updates: Free Foods NYC and Zest

To continue my week of crazy restaurant food, I've had takeout lunches in the office both yesterday and today. Even though I don't have pictures (come on guys, taking pictures of your food while you're eating with teammates/bosses/the Office Head is just a LITTLE bit unkosher), I figured I'd provide an update in case you're in the market for some Times Square-area lunch food.

Yesterday, we ordered in from Free Foods NYC. I had heard about the place on the blogs as it was opening, and I had planned to bring a group of 8 or 10 people from work there for lunch yesterday. I even called them last Friday (since I was coordinating the lunch) to ask if they had seating for a group that size. The man on the phone informed me they did, so the plan was to go there, get our food, and have a leisurely sit-down lunch.

Well, I just so happened (seriously, it was a coincidence) to walk past Free Foods during my travels this weekend, and the place has about 8 seats. Right. During the lunch crowd, of COURSE they could accomodate our group of 8, because the likelihood of anyone else eating there and wanting to sit down was, like, zero. Right? RIGHT? Arggh, Free Foods, you toy with my emotions.

Fortunately, Monday dawned a cold, rainy, and miserable day, so I made the executive decision to order in. I placed the order on Seamless for delivery at 11:45 for our noon lunch, and the food came just about at 12-- points docked for tardiness. But overall, the food was quite good. I ordered a Mediterranean Rim salad with arugula, white beans with marjoram, picholine olives, sun dried tomatoes, and apple instead of the protein. I had also asked for lemon chickpeas, but for some reason they didn't put those in (guess I have to dock some points for that too, although I didn't really mind all that much). The salad was reasonably sized and quite tasty, with an ample but not overwhelming amount of each ingredient. The citrus dijon dressing was also very flavorful.

A bunch of other people ordered the Free-Range Turkey sandwich with drunken goat cheese, which was pronounced quite delicious. My friend who ordered the Seared Rare Tuna salad said it made her "very happy." There were a couple other sandwiches circulating around the table, and at the end, all the food had disappeared. This was partially due to the fact that everyone thought the food was very good, but also partially due to the fact that the portions were pretty small. In fact, in a rare turn of events, I think the salads are actually the best value there. But I use the term "value" loosely. Almost everything at this place is more than $10, and there's no chance I'd ever go here if it weren't being covered by my office (ahem). But if someone else is paying, and you're into upscale, organic-ish food, give Free Foods a try.

Today I had lunch with the Office Head, and we ordered salads from Zest. Mine was a Grilled Thai Veggie salad, which had a base of baby spinach AND arugula (hurrah! I love that mix). In the bowl were grilled zucchini and yellow squash, bits of grilled eggplant, and cherry tomato halves. The Asian Chile lime vinaigrette (on the side, natch) was spicy and tangy, but a bit too oily, so I used it sparingly. Truthfully, the veggies didn't need it-- they were well seasoned but not too greasy, as grilled veggies can be, so the flavors were very clean. This was a truly great salad. Once again, Zest is a pricy option-- I didn't order this particular go-round, so I can't report precisely how much it cost, but it likely ran just under the $10 mark, much too expensive for my personal "I'm paying" threshold. However, for those not-too-rare occasions when my employer is footing the bill, I've added the Zest Grilled Thai Veggie salad to my go-to list.

No comments: