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Karen Salkin Out to Lunch

         Restaurant Reviews and Commentary from Karen Salkin
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Over two months ago, someone posted a question on my message board here at BHP asking me to review more New York restaurants. I’m happy to oblige, from time to time, as I know NY’s a popular destination for us Beverly Hills folk. (I’m headed there right now, as a matter of fact.) So, here’s a place I discovered on my last east coast trip , Dishes. I only wish one would open here in LA, too.

There are two solid locations in Manhattan, with a couple of smaller versions in Grand Central Station. The New York Chapter of the Femmes Fatales and I visited the one on E. 45th Street because I heard the male managers there are cute. (I picked the destination, of course.) And they were, though it was almost hard to distinguish them from the madding crowd.

[Sidebar to those who think the above term is “maddENing crowd”: it’s not; it’s “madding,” which means frenzied. Look it up for yourselves.]

My friend, Lynn Glaser, who knows every restaurant in NY and is never wrong in her assessments, told me that Dishes is fun, but a madhouse at lunchtime. I picked 1:30 as our meeting time, to let the crowds abate, but I was wrong by at least an hour. It was fun watching the scene, though. It was akin to the floor of the Stock Exchange. I’m still stymied by the fact that somehow, it all works out.

Here’s the deal: it’s a total buffet, but with different sections, and no specific place to pay. You’re kind-of on the honor system for everything except the smoothies and dessert. At that station, it’s like the inquisition to make sure you’ve paid before you get your snacks. But the managers aren’t just cute; they’re diligent, too, and constantly over-seeing the festivities. (I know that word may not apply to a simple buffet lunch, but my friend Tracy Stern, the classiest girl on the whole east coast, looked around and said, “There’s always a party around you!” In this case, I’m afraid I can’t take full credit because it was mostly the restaurant.)

Tracy and I stuck mainly to the full meal buffet, and the variety of foods was such that we both had over-flowing plates, but without trying the same thing! (Okay, mine was much more over-flowing than hers, but who’s counting.) She stuck with healthier dishes, such as fish, tofu, and vegetables, while I had turkey, stuffing, potatoes, beef, chicken, biscuits, and the like. If they didn’t have to close for the day, I’d still be there finishing that one plate! Which isn’t actually great for me because they charge by the pound. The ones on the plate, not my body, thankfully for me.

We both loved our selections. Upon digging in, we immediately understood the popularity of the place. It was all so fresh and delicious. We regretfully realized after that no one had sampled soups or salads, but were too full for anything else…except dessert, of course. Come on, what kind of restaurant critic would I be if I didn’t sacrifice my figure for my readers? So, for that reason only, we went to town in that area.

Lynn joined us for dessert, and we got opinions from three cute young girls who Ethan, our favorite manager, introduced us to. Dishes is a regular coffee klatch! We basically all loved everything.

But I found out you have to act fast in that category. I had picked-out a few muffins and such to bring to my mentor, and the supreme reviewer of all-time, my little mother, May Rose Salkin. She’s like Mikey from the old cereal commercials; she hates everything, so when she likes something, it gets the best review. But, by the time I finished yakking with the Femmes, there were hardly any desserts left! Ethan said it’s like that all the time. They’re baked fresh daily, so they make exactly enough for the lunchers to finish.

So, now I know what to do on my next visit; get there before everyone else, try soup, salad, and many desserts, and bring a book instead of a friend, so nobody can distract me from my mission: to try all the fabulous Dishes. And then be grateful that they weigh the food instead of me!

Dishes 6 E. 45th Street New York City (212) 687-5511

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