As I started telling you in my previous post, I was recently in New York for a conference/training for 6 days. The first day, Saturday, was essentially a travel day. Then, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I was at the conference from 9-5, with a 1 hour lunch break from 12:20-1:30. That limited my comfort level of where I would be able to go to lunch and return in time to not miss anything at the session.
So how did I find lunches in Midtown Manhattan?
One way to do this is to first, search your current location on Google Maps. In my example below, my conference was at the Sofitel New York (I stayed at a separate hotel to save money for my company). Then, when you click on the location, click the link for Search Nearby, which will expand this menu to include a field to use.
You can use this field to search for what you need- happy hour, lunch, pizza, bagel, tacos, etc.
This usually is what I do when I travel for work, but since I was in Manhattan there are lots of little dots that pop up of places to eat (this isn’t true of many other places I ended up going). So what now?
Fortunately, because New York is such a foodie town, I did a search of “Best lunch in Midtown Manhattan” and got several website articles to peruse. Usually, in smaller towns, I might only find a link to some old Chowhound board discussions, but that has also paid off to read and pick something out that sounds appealing. I picked the Serious Eats guide of “Where to Eat Near Rockefeller Center” as a reliable source, and combined this with other things I remember reading or being recommended.
For instance, that Bouchon Bakery has been on several lists for their grilled cheese sandwich- I had once upon a time pinned the list from Food and Wine for Best Grilled Cheese in the US and Bouchon’s was on it, as was it on the Serious Eats New York 17 Great Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. The name Thomas Keller also means something to me- the lunch I had at French Laundry quite a few years ago is still very memorable to me.
So this was my first lunch for the trip. It was so crowded at Bouchon Bakery Rockefeller that a group of ladies was braving sitting outside on their patio, but the crowd comes and goes. I awkwardly put my bag and coat down by a stool I saw by the corner between 2 groups after putting in my order, but when the order actually came up, there was a huge section of countertop that had opened up with seats. People here tend not to linger long.
The Bouchon Baker Rockefeller menu (which is annoyingly not on their site but you can get a gist at UrbanSpoon or the New York Mag for a menu) are light lunches of sandwiches, salads, cheese plates, soup, and of course their fabulous baked goods of macaroons and cookies as well as others like croissants, scones, etc. Below, the Smoked Salmon with herbed cream cheese, pickled red onion, and peppercress on brioche and the Roasted Sweet Potato on almond focaccia with brown butter aioli sounded tempting too.
Not so much the dog biscuits admittedly, which by the way are enriched with foie gras and chicken stock. One story goes that the dog treats came about because the Bouchon Kitchen in Yountville always had leftover random pieces of fois gras scraps so they used it this way so they wouldn’t go to waste and were still enjoyed.
I came to Bouchon Bakery twice. The first time was exactly for that grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. It is not just a plain grilled cheese or plain tomato soup, of course- it’s a san marzano tomato soup that is tangy and intensely tomato-y, perfect for a dip here or there with the gooey fontina & gruyère cheese sandwich whose thick pain au lait (milk bread) manages to be both crusty on the outside but soft and doughy buttery richness inside.
On my second visit, I had decided to eat leftovers from previous meals, and brought that from the hotel. However, I still used my lunch stipend to get a few treats to keep me sugared up on the plane (this would pay off since my flight would be delayed and I wouldn’t reach home until 4am NY time or 1am PDX time!). These treats kept me in a good mood, instead of a bad hungry mood. These included a croissant, the Tko Thomas Keller Oreo, the Nutter Butter cookie, and the TLC (The Laura Cunningham) Oatmeal Cookie. She didn’t like dried fruits and picked them out of typical oatmeal raisin cookies, which I totally agree with, so this cookie substitutes pecans for raisins! After the Nutter Butter the TLC was my favorite cookie.
Which treat would you have gotten from Bouchon Bakery Rockefeller?
Other New York highlights from this trip that I have blogged about:
- An excellent lobster roll at Pearl Oyster Bar
- Scenes from Chelsea Market and Todd English Food Hall
- Best Bagel Sandwich in New York: Russ & Daughters
- Midtown Manhattan Lunches – Xian Famous Foods, ‘wichCraft, Zucker’s Bagels & Smoked Fish
- Momofuku Noodle and Momofuku Milk Bar