. Manhattan Salad Bars and Delis

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New York Salad Bar

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NY Salad Bar

>>  Manhattan salad bar restaurants offer everything to everyone. Many specialize in ethnic foods, but all feature a broad range of goodies - fresh cold and hot meats, pastas, rice dishes, potatoes, fruit of all types, lavish greens. On weekdays, when their displays are loaded for the office crowd, it's impossible to not find what you want.

If you are new in town, many salad bar restaurants look narrow and cramped, especially when you're used to suburban eateries. And because they are narrow, they can appear to look dumpy or dark from the sidewalk. Don't let that put you off. Stroll in to see what they offer.

Diners usually do not go to salad bar restaurants for the atmosphere. They go for excellent food - often far, far fresher than in traditional restaurants - good prices, the ability to mix foods to taste and the thrill of finding true gourmet items.

My own favorite gourmet lunch consists of exceptionally fresh greens drenched under Balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil with slices of hot turkey smothered with fresh strawberries and raspberries. OK, while that may not appeal to you, I could easily find a similar concoction at a very upscale restaurant costing $65 plus tip. Of course, in a salad bar, I have to bump around the service area gathering all these ingredients myself, but at $4.99 pound, my $5 or less meal makes the effort worthwhile.

If you like to pick and choose more conservatively, I've seen fresh salmon, smoked white fish and succulent hot beef, pork and chicken, coupled with a wide variety of side dishes and ultra-fresh salads. Many salad bars offer excellent grilled foods (try very tender hamburgers at some of the better places), an array of deli specials and crusty breads.

Here are some examples of hearty, freshly prepared $6 sandwiches from the Deli on Madison (pictured) between 48th and 49th on Madison Avenue:

    Smoked turkey with Brie cheese, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard on pumpernickel bread - Proccuitto with fresh mozzarella, basil, sun dried tomato, balsamic vinegar and olive oil - Hot corned beef and melted Swiss with hot sauerkraut.

Office workers descend on salad bars between noon and 2, but if you arrive between 11 to 11:30 AM or after 2 PM, you'll have the place to yourself. Business districts offer the freshest selections because food moves fast, but restaurants in these areas usually close around 4 and are often not open on weekends or holidays.

Although seating might not be obvious, many have dinette tables in the back or on a second level. The Deli on Madison, for example, has tables hidden from view until you travel way to the back where you'll see an arrow pointing to seating upstairs. During lunch hour, however, available tables are scarce and if you do find a chair, you'll share it at a table with others.

All takeouts are packed in plastic boxes packaged with thin, meltable plastic forks, knives and spoons. If you take your goodies back to a hotel, consider having heavy, disposable plasticware and inexpensive metal cutlery on hand to make this type of dinner easier to handle.

Even if you decide to eat in the restaurant or in a park, it never hurts to use your own cutlery, which you can stash in a huge citybag (some people tote two). I carry mine all the time - after all, living the urban life means carving out the best for as little money possible, even if you must do it with your own fork and knife. (See Serving Yourself.

Questions? Comments?
Karen Little

Article and photos by Karen Little. First published on 7/23/2000. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.

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