Now that the Condé Nast
cafeteria has made busing a tray at lunch downright stylish, we've
been reliving our junior-high days -- without the Tater Tots and
mystery meat -- at the new AQ Café at the Scandinavia
House, a natty concession run by Aquavit.
On the menu: textbook Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes ($9),
a luscious herring plate ($6.50), even that old cafeteria warhorse
lasagna. Though this one's a rich salmon version with béchamel
and tomato-caper salsa ($9).
whizzes: Blintzes at PSC Cafeteria.
We also happily get on line at lunch with the UPS delivery men,
the beefy double-beeper-belted garmentos, even strappy-sandaled,
Pucci-clad blondes (no doubt Condé Nast-cafeteria fugitives
bucking the Si Newhouse-imposed garlic ban) at Veronica Ristorante
Italiano. The place mingles a shabby sixties-era garment-district
charm -- brown plastic trays; orange Formica tables; pre-poured
red or white wine -- with a few unexpected refinements like homemade
herb-and-fennel bread and good espresso. Defying the laws of steam-table
physics, the pasta, in most cases, is just a bite shy of al dente.
Shells in a creamy Bolognese sauce ($8.50) and linguine with two
mammoth but surprisingly light turkey meatballs ($6.50) are favorites.
"It's better than Le Cirque," we overheard a fashionista crow on
a recent visit. "Well, the portions are better," demurred her garmento
The portions at the spotless, skylit PSC (Polish Slavic Center)
Cafeteria in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, are so much better than Le
Cirque's that even the burly working men who congregate here wobble
like tentative tightrope walkers as they carry their pierogi-packed
trays back to their tables. Satisfying slabs of meat loaf, chicken
cutlets, and beef-and-pork-stuffed peppers are a few of the hearty
entrées heaped high with mashed potatoes and gravy, red cabbage,
coleslaw, rye bread, plus a glass of compot (the room-temp fruit
drink) -- all for under five bucks. Throw in a measly extra dollar
and you get a big bowl of the soup of the day. Or splurge on dessert:
perhaps the best cheese blintzes in Greenpoint served with a dollop
of vanilla-sweetened sour cream.