Cafe Duke

30 Rockers, listen up. Your culinary life is about to change. Instead of meeting my friend who works on 53rd and 6th in the concourse in my building per usual, he suggested I venture all the way across the street to Cafe Duke. I had never even heard of this place, since like most people that work here, I hardly leave the building. I made the quick trip to 51st, between 6th and 7th and entered Cafe Duke.

I was immediately overwhelmed in a whirlwind of food and men in business suits. It was hard to find my friend in the mesh of look-a-likes and I felt completely out of place. Luckily, my friend had been before and was able to give me the grand tour of this culinary delight. With meals ranging from sushi made on spot, sandwiches, salads, Asian delicacies and a hot meal bar to die for (complete with whole fish that you could pick the meat off of,) the possibilities were endless. We eventually decided on wood-oven grilled paninis.

You can pick any topping of your choosing and the options varied from health conscious to splurging. I selected roasted eggplant (versus fried), mozzarella, roasted red peppers and basil. They put my sandwich into the wood burning oven and left me to wander around. My friend ordered a panini as well and we set off to explore some more. The amount of cookies, candies and over-sized Rice Krispie Treats made my mouth water and my mind run wild. Ultimately, I was too indecisive to settle for anything sweet, and just stuck with my panini.

After paying, I said good-bye to my friend and skipped back past Radio City Music Hall, under the NBC Marquee and back into 30 Rock. Sitting back down at my desk, I opened up my little plastic bag containing the sandwich of my dreams.

(Eggplant, Mozzarella, Roasted Red Peppers, Basil)

I bit in and was transported into a place of eggplanty dreams. Each bite was messy and gooey and full of flavor. It was not your average quickly made sandwich. The wood burning grill gave it a smokey taste unexpected to a newcomer. My intern eyed my sandwich. I explained this hidden food wonderland and he was sold. Upon returning with his bim-bop noodles, he said, I’m going every day, well for the next 4 days of my internship. It’s that good.

So next time you’re debating Commissary or Concourse, choose neither. Go to Cafe Duke.

Cafe Duke – 140 W 51st St – New York, NY

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