Southern NYC Lunch Tour

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Day 6
Anytime Cafe
142 Fulton St.
Oct. 19, 2006

Anytime Cafe is a Big Box deli, a species that flourishes in places like Manhattan. Three main distinguishing characteristics - 1. it's big. 2. The interior is an uninterrupted 3-dimensional rectangle (can't remember the word for that shape! Anyone?) 3. At least 5 very different culinary modalities are represented (and sometimes there's a common uber-taste "holding them all together").

Anytime's prices are quite good. Their 24-selection hot food bar and 28-selection cold food/salad bar both go for $5.29/lb, a dollar less than Mangia, and nothing looked scary. At 12:20 it was decently populated without being annoyingly crowded. They also had a pizza bar, sandwich area, sushi bar, and Udon soup station, very well organized within the confines of the large box.

I decided to try their $5.50 Turkey Brie and Sundried Tomato with Honey Mustard hero. I didn't have to wait long - 3 minutes later, there it was. No free chips or coleslaw or pickle were offered, no complimentary soda, just the sandwich in the smiley face bag. I did not mind this, though; there is someething refreshing about a completely direct experience. No bribery, no nonsense, just a sandwich in a sack.

There was alot of this sandwich, too - quite generous with everything. I detected what may be the Anytime taste - a sort of distinctive garlic and hot sauce overtone that I didn't expect. This will have to be experimentally verified at some future date, after the tour.

I recommend the Anytime Cafe; what it lacks in "character" and other forms of branding/manipulation is more than made up for in its reasonable prices and straightforward approach. It seats about 20 at the far end of the box; once again, very simple black tables and chairs.

I was also struck by the fact that their font of choice is in the Futura family. Plain, simple, with an understated elegance that does not interfere with the information being presented. The only drawback to dining here is the location, since it is necessary to walk along Fulton St for more than 10 feet, which is at least as frustrating as Broadway, especially at lunch hour.


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