It’s a mantra. A no-brainer. When it comes to restaurants: get what the place is known for. I’ll never understand people who think it’s boring, or cliché, or I don’t know what, to order Love Letters at Babbo, soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai, or a hot dog at a Yankee’s game.
Sadly, I did not take my own advice at Grey Dog this week. Grey Dog Coffee is actually one of many great cafés in my ‘hood (note: the new location’s finally open on University Place @ 11th St.). It’s a spot that I occasionally enjoy for light lunches, even though I feel like their take on the “old, Maine, clapboard charm, American coffeehouse aesthetic” is a little overblown. The look promises more cozy than a Manhattan sandwich spot can really deliver. So I’m sometimes disappointed.
But my cousin Natalie is an enthusiast, so I went with her the other day, and the first thing out of her mouth was, “Oooh, the sandwich menu here always looks great!” She proceeded to agonize over a couple of the “Michigan Sandwich” selections: the Prosciutto Press, with fresh mozzarella, roasted tomato, oil and vinegar, and the Roast Beef Press with gruyere, sautéed onions, horseradish sauce, & au jus (both $8.75). Hers was a pretty smart conflict because The Dog’s sandwiches are usually hearty and delicious, with pretty inspired ingredient choices. I, however, was craving a salad because of the early Autumn heat, and decided to deviate from my typical sandwich preference, (the tuna salad with plum tomato, bermuda onion and pea shoots), for a try at their Cobb. Mistake. While Natalie happily chomped away at her savory red meat on sourdough, I fruitlessly poured salt and pepper into the bland, bland, bland blue cheese dressing. Ultimately, I had to send it back and ask instead for a simple Club. They graciously complied, and my lunch was good, but from now on I’ll be taking my own advice.
Additional info: it’s very disappointing to me that neither branch of this popular coffee house/sandwich shop offers free wi-fi. And be warned, the service can be hit-or-miss. As can the chicken salad.
Grey Dog Coffee ($$)
33 Carmine St, Btwn. Bedford & Bleecker St