Friedman’s

It always pays to have a lunch buddy. Today, My Lady Dining Partner (MLDP) invited me to lunch with her at a spot I’d never been: Friedman’s. Known for their bustling ambiance and delectable comfort fare, I knew I had to take her up on the offer.

Friedman's BLAT with chicken

BLAT

We trekked up to lower Midtown West, just above Flatiron where we work, and made our way to Friedman’s. The facade is unassuming, but the moment you enter, you realize you’re in for something good. It was packed and everyone’s food looked incredible. We snagged a few stools at the counter and got down to checking out the menu, but I had already done my due diligence and selected a sandwich to order prior to setting foot in the restaurant (as usual).

I ordered the B.L.A.T. (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato) with grilled chicken. “Phenomenal” is too empty a word to even describe how good this sandwich was. The bread was toasted just enough to offer a crisp exterior to hold onto, and the mayonnaise was dill-inflected, offering up a robust and fresh flavor. My only complaint would be that the grilled chicken piece was dwarfed by all the green leaf lettuce (no iceberg at this place), but that’s a small qualm. I asked for their housemade chips to accompany my dish (for $2 extra – one thing about Friedman’s is that it ain’t cheap), and they were paper thin and delicious.

MLDP opted for the adobo chicken salad, which comes with grilled chicken, black beans, tortilla crisps, pepperjack and an amazing chipotle dressing. I snuck a bite of it and was impressed.

Friedman's carrot cake

carrot cake

Since our entrees were so good, we knew we had to get dessert. The limited menu does not disappoint. We opted for the carrot cake. When it came out, we marveled at the gigantic chunk of cake in front of us and the waiter said, “This is half the size we used to serve.” I can’t even imagine what that serving looked like–and I don’t even want to think about what kind of person consumed the whole thing. This carrot cake is supremely special: it’s moist, chock full of carrots and covered with coconut flakes that offer a new dimension of flavor and texture. I was quite pleased with our selection, and MLDP liked it so much, she took the enormous leftovers to go! (She later shared the piece with me as the afternoon wore on.)

Friedman’s is definitely worthy of a true destination venture to try their offerings. I’d like to go there for dinner, too, but I fear there may be a wait. Though they do not take reservations, it’s certainly worth hanging around for a table, whether you like it or not. Trust me.

Friedman’s

132 W. 31st Street (bet. 6th and 7th avenues)

Midtown West, NY

Take the orange or yellow to 34th Street, walk south a few blocks and toward 7th Avenue on 31st Street.

Clinton Street Baking Company

You don’t want to come here for brunch. What I mean is: you absolutely do want to come here for brunch because it’s to-die-for. But you don’t want to stand in line for an hour (before the place even opens!) to get a table.

fried chicken dinner at clinton street baking company

fried chicken dinner

The Clinton St. omelette is outstanding. The blueberry-drenched pancakes are perfect. Really, you can’t go wrong for brunch. But, little known fact: They serve omelettes and pancakes at dinner time, too.

MDP and I stumbled into Clinton Street Baking Company last night, after being pushed aside at Schiller’s. I had been to Clinton Street many times before–for brunch, of course, but I had heard they also served a mean burger. (Because I was planning to have a burger tonight–I have a one-burger per week rule–I ended up ordering something else, but we’ll get to that in a minute.)

The place was packed but for one tiny table squeezed between two other tables for two. I sidled into the booth and felt instantly comfortable among Clinton Street’s warm ambiance.

On the chalkboard on the wall, they listed the specials for the evening and the day’s fish and the farms where their food came from. MDP and I both ended up ordering two different permutations of fried chicken, and boy, were we pleased.

I opted for the fried chicken dinner, which comes with four pieces of delectable chicken, a honey-Tabasco sauce for dipping, homemade slaw and two sides (I chose the jalapeno-inflected corn bread and the sauteed spinach–both were incredible). The fried chicken is in a category all unto its own. I’ve never had such delicious fried chicken, in fact. It was moist and flavorful, and the flavor seemed to seep deep into the chicken itself rather than just superficially penetrated in the fry batter. In a word, fantastic.

carrot cake at clinton street baking company

cute carrot cake

MDP got the fried chicken sandwich with lemon-pepper mayo, a pickled green tomato and shredded romaine on a pain d’avignon roll, which came with less-than-impressive fries. They were limp and flaccid, and unappetizing to me (but MDP finished them off–so they must have been okay). He enjoyed his sandwich.

Though I was beyond full, I knew we had to order something off the dessert menu. After all, it’s called Clinton Street Baking Company for a reason. We chose the walnut-studded carrot cake, which manifested as an adorable slice of lightly frosted cake situated on a wide white plate. I couldn’t put my finger on the flavor of it, but it was surely different. Quite enjoyable.

Do try Clinton Street Baking Company, even if you go for dinner and order brunch. I highly recommend it.

Clinton Street Baking Company

4 Clinton St. (between East Houston and Stanton)

Lower East Side, NY

Take the F/M to Delancey Street/Essex Street and walk a few blocks over Rivington to Clinton Street, head north two blocks.