**Opening to the public on Thursday, June 23rd**
Originally hailing from Boston, Milk Street Cafe's second and newest concept is an "upscale Food Hall" located smack-dab in the heart of NYC's world-famous financial district: in the Trump Building, on Wall Street, of course! You can imagine how thrilled I was to be included at their "private press preview," which was held this past Monday evening.
Within the last handful of years, the restaurant scene in NYC's financial district has dramatically improved. As a 2001 summer intern at the World Trade Center, I can remember how bleak my meal options were: pizza, hot dog, the food court in the mall beneath the towers, or Burger King. That. Was. It. Luckily, things have changed. And rightfully so, because I've always wondered how so many downtown employees were able to eat relatively healthy - and semi-tasty - breakfasts and lunches. Not to mention the folks who actually reside in this up-and-coming neighborhood!
Going back to the topic: aside from my obvious curiosity about the Milk Street's concept, food, decor, etc., my fascination was especially piqued when I began to compile a mental list of potential Midtown "food halls" that I could compare to Milk Street. Why Midtown? Because that's where I work. Both Dishes and The Plaza Food Hall came to mind; the latter, for the sheer fact that its name actually *contains* the words, "food hall." But I decided to nix The Plaza Food Hall, as I've only eaten there once, and that was on a weekend. So how would Milk Street stack up against Dishes? Read on to find out...
For Milk Street's preview, a red carpet was rolled out from the front doors to the street which, at least I thought, made guests feel extra special.
The first thing I noticed about Milk Street, aside from its "Hollywood Regency" cum beaux-arts decor, was how large its interior space was! 23,000 square feet, to be exact. And don't think that all of it is dedicated to food stations and beverage kiosks - there is seating for approximately 100!
After sampling numerous hors d'oeuvres, gulping down two chocolate chip mocha frappes, and taking a guided tour throughout Milk Street's interior space, here is what really stuck out:
- As I said above, the sheer size of the venue: 23,000 square feet!
- Amount of food stations: barista, made-to-order breakfasts, made-from-scratch breads/desserts/pastries, pasta bar, Asian specialties, sushi bar, two create-your-own salad bars (one vegetarian, one non), homemade soups, a grill, rotisserie, carving station, AND grab 'n go stands
- "Line Busters," which is a hand-held checkout system to speed up the payment process for those paying with plastic
- Produce Soak sinks, which are sophisticated whirlpool systems used for cleaning produce
- Website: so user friendly, in fact, that it will allow customers to sort foods/meals by their personal dietary needs (ie: if a customer is vegan, it will automatically eliminate all non-vegan items from the menu)
- 80 permanent jobs will be brought back to Wall Street!
- Food: I only sampled a couple of Milk Street's offerings, but from what I did have, Dishes still reigns supreme
- Space: Milk Street is much bigger and offers more seating than Dishes, plus its aesthetic isn't as sterile
- Options: Milk Street offers more grab n' go options, whereas Dishes only offers a few - good for those on-the-go
- Service: Dishes is not known for having the friendliest of service. The staff at Milk Street, on the other hand, was knowledgeable and kind
- Hours: Milk Street stays open until 9pm (M-Th) and until 3pm on Friday's - Dishes closes at 5pm (M-F)
Bottom line: Wall Street doesn't know what it's in for! I think that Milk Street's success will be monumental and I cannot believe that it's taken any company this long to bring the "food hall" concept downtown.
Until we eat again,
The Lunch Belle