On Christmas Day recently, my sisters and I lunched at Cafeteria in Chelsea. Our friends only had to rave to us about the delectable macaroni and cheese, and we were already calling to make reservations. Upon arrival, we weren’t extremely impressed with the façade (I think they’re in the midst of some construction) but the interior décor was simple and elegant. We were seated promptly upon arrival by the friendly staff.
We pored over the menu, debating between breakfast entrees or sumptuous salads. As tempted as we were by the lemon ricotta pancakes, we finally settled on the crispy calamari salad, which was a tossing of frisee, roasted peppers,
calamari (obviously), green beans, toasted peanuts, all dressed with honey sesame vinaigrette. Along with the salad, we ordered the restaurant’s signature “Mac Attack,” which is a tasting of all three types of their gourmet mac & cheese (1) cheddar and fontina, 2) smoked gouda, and 2) truffle oil). For dessert, we indulged ourselves by ordering deep fried Oreos, which are served with espresso chip ice cream and a coffee shake shot.
The salad owed its distinctive taste to the combination of the salty calamari and the sweet vinaigrette.
The mac & cheese was certainly the highlight of my meal. Varying cheeses and garnishes made all the difference in these dishes. It was comfort food at its best.
Usually, I stay away from anything deep-fried, mainly because it makes me nauseous. However, these Oreos were irresistible. The Oreos and ice cream were obviously very heavy and sugary, but the coffee shake shot’s slightly bitter taste balanced out the dessert.
Overall, we loved it. It was simple, traditional food that was prepared extremely well. There was a certain attention to detail that is so often lacking in restaurants that try to pass off American as simply a “casual” cuisine.
119 7th Ave,
New York, NY 10011
Occasion: Family feasting
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: *** Elegant, sophisticated, perhaps a little congested
Would I go back?: Yes!