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Karen Salkin Out to Lunch

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My recent NY trip was a bit more of a wild ride than I would have hoped. Some stories are so weird, even for me, that they’re best left un-written, except maybe in my diary, and even then I’m not sure.

But, I did have some fun experiences. Here are two of them. (A couple more to follow in a near future column.)


On my Fall sojourn to NYC, I discovered a wonderful self-serve restaurant, Dishes, that I wrote about recently. (Check my archives, if you’re interested.) As good as that food was, the best thing about the place was the popular manager, Ethan.

When I heard he was handling another restaurant now, I just had to seek him out because I like to stay in touch with my cute Gs. (That’s Guys, not Gangstas, though sometimes they’re one and the same. Happily, not in this case.)

ethan and karen

These days, he’s at Zest, in the garment district. Or possibly theater district. I’m never quite sure there, because in NY, every block seems to be in a different section than the one before!

Zest is another self-serve place, but with a healthful bent. Everything here seems to be organic, or low-carb or vegan or…; you get the idea.

I had only one day that I could eat there, and of course it was a rainy, creepy day. Therefore, only my brave NY attorney, Geraldine, and I went out and not the passel of co-horts I usually review with. So, we couldn’t go nuts with the amount and variety of foods because she’s a tiny little thing who doesn’t eat that much, and I spent most of my time talking with Ethan and John, the equally outgoing owner.

What we did have was delicious, though. I stuck with mainly rainy day foods, such as the many interesting soups they have that change daily. My favorite in that category was the Tomato and Basil. Tomato soup of any kind is my fave, but usually it has to be Cream of. This wasn’t that because it’s vegan and lo-fat, but I loved it! So much so that I took some home because I felt a sore throat coming on, and boy, was it helpful in that category.

The Chicken Soup was very flavorful and had a different kind of noodle, which I believe was soba. Next time, I’ll try the Butternut Squash.

My friend loved the organic whole wheat crust on the pizzas. (That might be erroneous; she probably said "loved," not "liked," which is still a big deal for her in the food category.) The winner of the day was the Potato Pizza that was the Wednesday special. How lucky am I to have reviewed on a Wednesday? I looove anything potato, but only if it’s deserving, of course.

There’s a “Composed Salad” bar with six staples and five daily specials. Geraldine’s favorite was the tofu and soba noodle salad. Zest also features hot entrees and spa burgers, but after consuming almost a whole potato pizza by myself, I had to move on to sweets.

I went nuts for the cookies and muffins and brought a blueberry scone home to Maybelle, my little mother, who also went nuts. (In both our cases, that’s not a far distance to travel.) I finished up with a fabulous Very Berry Smoothie, followed by yummy flavored chai tea.

In fact, I hope Zest follows up on my suggestion of an afternoon tea special, since they have all the delicious components. If not, just go in and put them together for yourself (tea, sandwiches, scones, and sweets) and sit there and relax. And, if you’re a young lady, go in the late afternoon when the lunch frenzy has quieted down, and hope that Ethan or John might join you. I know that’s what I’ll be doing on my next visit.

Zest 1441 Broadway between 40th &41st 212-398-9378


I was invited to a party for the premiere of the film “Everything’s Gone Green.” (I didn’t know until I got there that I was also invited to the screening beforehand, so I can’t tell you how the movie was.) I was told it was at Room Service, and knowing there was a restaurant by that name, didn’t even get the address. By now, I should have learned my lesson a thousand-fold in the category of not giving/getting exact info, but I guess not.

So, I got a posse together and headed over. Thank goodness for cell phones because it took a lot of calls on the way to ascertain just exactly where we were all headed, in separate cars, no less. We eventually realized there was a club by the same name, and one of us was smart enough to get the actual address! (’Twas not I, I must confess.)

Anyhow, this area of Manhattan is like our own Hollywood nowadays; it’s club central. Makes it much easier for late-night hopping. We stayed in Room Service, though, and had a great time, most likely because it was a private party and not just a club night.

Some of my friends headed right for the different wine booths, while I was over-joyed to see generous passed hors d’ouvres, no matter how attitudinal some of the waitresses were, one blonde in particular. The waiters were much nicer, I’m happy to report.

The food was pretty good, actually, especially for a club. All of our faves were the macaroni and cheese croquettes and the best mini-burgers any of us had ever tried.

There was a small VIP area that was populated by the cast of the film we were feting. And club music blasted all night, which is de rigueur, of course, but we had the added pleasure of live percussionists to accompany it. That was fun.

The weird thing is that this was a club, as opposed to just a bar, but there was no dance floor per se! You just grooved in place. I guess for those who imbibed enough complimentary champagnes, it really didn’t matter. But for a tee-totaler like me, I needed an exact dance location. That turned out to be my bedroom when I arrived back home.

Room Service 35 E. 21st St. New York 212-254-5709

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Out To Lunch Dec. 19 -
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Locanda Del Lago review
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