A +/- Look at NYC Food

Market Cafe

You always have to be careful recommending a neighborhood joint to people who live outside your hood. Your enthusiasm for that suprisingly good little place, right around the corner, might be mis-placed when talking to someone who might have to jump on a subway or in a cab for the same meal. Market Cafe definetely falls into that category.

This little New American "diner", masquerading as a bistro, might not be worth a trip out of your way… but it still has a lot going for it. A casual atmosphere, with that dash of sophistication that dimly shines through on a few stand out dishes make it a great place to head to if you are already going to be in the southern part of Hell's Kitchen. Add to that prices that are borderline laughable (compared to similar restaurants in the area), and you've got a winner. Just don't expect too much… or you may end up disappointed.

What we ate, and the +/- after the jump….

First Courses

  • Gnocchi, Handmade Potato Dumplings, Ham Shanks, Garden Peas, Tomato & Ricotta $7

I had seen this dish recommended by numerous sources, and we were not disappointed. Could easily be a main course for someone who doesn't need to stuff themselves, the gnocchi were surprisingly good for a non italian joint like this.

Main Courses

  • Steak Frites,  Grilled Skirt Steak, Pesto Butter, Spiced Fries $12

Skirt steak is not my favorite, so I obviously wasn't in love with this particular Steak Frites, but if you like that kind of thing you'll probably like this dish. Can't go wrong with Pesto Butter, and the spiced fries were great. Be prepared to be attacked on all sides by whoever you're with that didn't get the fries with their meal. Most reviews of the Market Cafe will recommend this dish.

  • Penne w/ Three Cheeses

You might say the secret ingredient in this dish is cheese. Sophisticated? No. Original? No. Good if you like cheese. Yes. It is what it is people. If you're with someone who doesn't need to be wowed by their pasta dishes, and just wants their cheese with a side of cheese, this is definetely the dish for them.

Dinner Salads

  • Wild Mushroom Salad

Another surprisingly sophisticated dish. Nothing ground breaking, but if you like cooked mushrooms and you like salad, this one's a no brainer. Probably a seasonal dish, NY Magazine recommends the beet salad.


PRICE NOTE: I didn't pay the bill, so I don't have the exact prices for the dishes. These prices were taken off of MenuPages, but New York Magazine lists slightly more expensive prices ($14 for the steak, $8 for the gnocchi). I'm assuming the magazine prices are more reliable…

SERVICE NOTE: The service was terrible but we were a party of 6 and having a good time so it didn't ruin our meal. I'm assuming a party of two or four will almost always experience quicker service- but in the end, if service is what you are looking for, this type of neighborhood joint might not be for you.

ATMOSPHERE NOTE: This is a noisy neighborhood place… so keep that in mind based on what kind of meal you're looking to have, and who you're going with. Could be a date place… if your date would rather be in a dive bar then a hotel bar. The lighting turns an otherwise un-romantic decor into a borderline nice place. Definetely a younger vibe.

The +

  • You live in Hell's Kitchen and you're looking for a decent meal in a relaxed atmosphere for a reasonable price in the hood.

The –

  • Service can sometimes be spotty
  • Not much else negative to say, as long as you don't go out of your way to dine here, and expect greatness.

Some Helpful Links:

496 9th Ave (btw 37th & 38th St.), 212-564-7350 [map]


January 28, 2006 - Posted by | Food: American (New), Location: Hell's Kitchen, Price: Inexpensive, Uncategorized

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