Bon Appétit Supper Club & Café

The Bon Appétit Supper Club & Café is a temporary restaurant set up across the street from my office. I just noticed it one day last week and by the end of this week it will be gone. Basically it is a marketing gimmick for Bon Appétit, some celebrity chefs and other food and dining-related companies. I was hoping that since it is all a marketing event that the food would all be free, but alas, it isn't: dinner, at the 'Super Club' is $125 a head (admittedly, this is for a five-course meal). Luckily lunch at the Café is much more reasonable (at least for New York): $7-9 dishes and cheaper sides and soups.

I've tried a few of the lunch items, including the Roast Beef sandwich with Marinated Red Onions and Blue Cheese, which was great. It comes on a peasant-style bread that is a nicely chewy yet crusty. Blue cheese is always a favorite for me, as are onions. I wasn't as impressed with Govind Armstrong's Tropical Rolls with Sambal, which were kind of a spring or summer roll filled with vegetables and mushrooms. I thought they were difficult and messy to eat and though I liked the crunchy texture of the vegetables (carrots, peppers, snow peas, and I think fennel), the mushrooms added an odd taste and slithery texture. Eventually the rolls fell apart before I could finish them so I mixed everything up, with the provided dipping sauce, into a julienne vegetable salad that I found easier to eat. I also really enjoyed Emeril Lagasse's Corn and Crab Bisque. It was creamy but not too rich and amazingly the vegetables in it (corn, scallions) remained fresh and al dente. There was a good amount of crab too! And don't worry, I didn't eat this all at once—being that this is across the street from my office, I've had a few chances to visit and sample things from the menu.

The whole atmosphere is interesting, though I can tell it is temporary. It reminded me of something a candidate for "The Apprentice" would put together. You can see wires taped down in some areas, and the dining room paint job is dark, and darkly lit most likely to hide anything unsightly. The walls are a dark blue, with 20+ foot ceilings and hundreds of little (2" by 6") mirrors strung from the ceiling. There are rows of high-top tables for seating that I imagine get changed out for dinner service. And at the head of the room is a kitchen are for live cooking demos. Unfortunately the demo the conducted didn't come with samples...we were just instructed to buy the cookies from the café. The café area is painted bright green, probably to make it seem larger, as it has gotten very crowded during the lunch rush. (The cashiers need to pick up the pace.)

But, finally, my hopes of marketing freebies were realized; upstairs they've got Häagen-Dazs giving away samples, along with Evian, Godiva and others. Plus you get a free tote bag if you spend more than $10, and even more free stuff if you pay with a Visa card. Who says marketing doesn't work?

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