Lunch: So Close to Excellence, But Not Quite (The “$6 Artichoke Cafe Sandwich Special” Post)

photo(3)Just look at it there in the case: That gorgeous seeded bread, such a welcome departure from the offerings at so many delis and sandwich shops in the neighborhood. Thick slices of turkey, crisp bacon.

All for $6, which includes chips?! It’s damn near impossible to find a decent deli sandwich in the city for less than $6, let alone one that comes on bread like that and chips.

Soo … what’s the catch?

I’ve wandered in and out of Artichoke Cafe a half-dozen times since it photo(5)opened earlier this year, each time wondering the same thing. As far as I can tell, other than being a little negligent on printing up or posting an official menu with prices — there are no prices or descriptions posted anywhere, which makes me feel a little weird because I’m constantly asking questions — Artichoke Cafe appears to be doing moderately well at offering affordable lunch fare that tends towards the healthful — pick-your-ingredient salads, sandwiches, paninis, a rotating selection of hot entrees, a  juice bar — without being overbearing about it.

Now about that sandwich. The bread was excellent: dark, nutty, fresh. I found slices of avocado tucked inside (bonus!), which bumped the sandwich up a notch, approaching club sandwich classification … until I saw the bacon.

photo(4)Here’s where Artichoke Cafe’s healthful tendencies veer off-track: The bacon was not bacon. It might be turkey bacon or mock bacon, I’m not sure, but definitely not regular bacon. I love a lot of veggie fare, but mock meat isn’t one of them. By all means, use mock bacon. Just let your customers know.

*Yet one more argument, and a strong one at that, for printing out little placards to place in the display cases adjacent the options — had I known, I’d have gone for the tuna melt, or the turkey cheddar number, or the pesto chicken, and been equally as satisfied, if not more so. So close to excellence, but yet, not quite.

Artichoke Cafe, 240 W 37th St., btwn. 7th and 8th avenues, 212.695.9086

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