Written by Hulda Lawrence
In 2000 Junior's opened in Grand Central Station, but this year a large, very friendly place opened on Shubert Alley in New York City at 45th Street or 1515 Broadway (212) 302-2000. Now Manhattanites, residents, tourists and visitors can enjoy the delights of food that for years only those in Brooklyn could have.
With windows from floor to ceiling, allowing diners to glimpse the excitement without, Junior's provides a noisy atmosphere while waiters rush food to hungry pre-theatergoing folk. Our waiter, Wayne, was Canadian, but grew up in upstate New York. His advice was most helpful. Firstly, a bowl of non-mayonnaised cole slaw, beets and pickles was brought. As we perused the menu we were overcome by the choices and the sizes of the portions being brought to nearby tables. We began by sipping Egg Creams brought by Miles Ellis, the General Manager, who also advised us on popular choices.
We decided to have meat entrees since so much of the huge printed menu described in detail the ways one could order sandwiches and platters. Although there is a long list of appetizers, we felt we wanted to concentrate on the meats. Appetizers include Brooklyn Style Buffalo Wings, Chicken Fingers, Baby Back Ribs, Hummus, Fried Shrimp, Calamari and of course chopped chicken liver from $7.50. Soups are Matzoh Ball, Baked Onion, and Split Pea at $3.95 each. Salads include Iceberg Wedge with Tomato and Chopped Bacon, Caesar, Chicken, Tuna, Shrimp, and Chilled Poached Salmon from $7.95.
My companion ordered a Pastrami Reuben which consisted of a mammoth portion of meat, grilled sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on rye. It was so much that two persons could have shared it. The Reubens are of corned beef, turkey or a combination of meats at $11.95. My choice, a platter of Brisket of Beef which came with mushroom gravy on the side as well as broccoli and mashed potatoes, was delicious. The slices were not too thin and the meat was excellent. It was $15.95. Other meat choices include Roast Turkey, Baked Meat Loaf, Hungarian Beef Goulash, and Chicken Breast in several styles. There are seafood entrees and sirloin steak as well as Roumanian tenderloin. After 4 p.m. there baked potatoes are available. There also are all kinds of side orders like French Fries, Onion Rings, Florentine Rice, Linguini, and Macaroni and Cheese from $3.95.
Among the sandwiches are Brisket Melt, Bagel with Nova Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese, Open Roast Beef, and a Jumbo 1/2 lb. Hot Dog with Sauerkraut and French Fries. Sandwiches are from $10.95 and there also is a Corned Beef and Pastrami Combo and loads of barbecue dishes. There are steakburgers of all kinds and traditional sandwiches like Chicken Salad on thick cut Challah, Grilled Cheese, Turkey, Virginia Ham and Beef Tongue. Sandwiches are from $7.25. There are also Potato Pancakes and Blintzes.
At lunch Monday through Friday soup and 1/2 sandwich is $9.95. For the same price you could order soup and a salad. For the youngsters under twelve there is a special menu for $7.95 with a choice of burgers, grilled cheese and chicken fingers with a drink.
And now for desserts. Junior's has developed its original cheesecake with a secret recipe and has earned kudos from all around the world. It is so famous that it can be ordered and shipped everywhere in the USA (to order, the number is 1 800 9JUNIORS). We, of course, ended our fine lunch with the cheesecake. Miles insisted that I should sample the Devil's Food Cheesecake. This tremendous slice of cake arrived with the cheesecake snuggled inside the luscious chocolate. It was so rich I just nibbled and had to take the rest home where it kept me happy for five days. My companion had the Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake. There are many desserts in addition to the cheesecake, from as well as mountain high sundaes to a Black and White Cookie for $1.95. Most of the diners oped for the original cheesecake, at $5.75, which everyone knows is the best. For those who are on special diets, yes, there is a diabetic cheesecake.
Junior's is terrific. There are no reservations but 200 diners can be accommodated at one time inside and another 100 can be seated outside when the weather is milder. There is a complete wine and bar menu with cocktails available. For the non-alcoholic imbibers there are ice cream sodas, milk shakes, and malts.
A new restaurant, Triomphe, has been installed in the boutique hotel Iroquoise at 49 West 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues (212) 453-4233. As one enters the bar area there is a quiet aura, and a high table is set opposite the bar where those in a real hurry can have a bite without entering the restaurant proper.
We were seated and a fine bread made with raisins was brought as we scanned the menu. It was divided into sections of "small plates," "salads," "main plates," and sides." The dessert menu was completely separate.
From the small plates we shared Pan Seared Scallops with Porcini Mushrooms and Fois Gras Butter at $13. Other small plates include Baked Littleneck Clams; Marinated Sardines on Sourdough Toast Points; and Duck Confit and Cremini Mushroom Risotto. Small plates are $10 to $13. For those who prefer soup there is an Escarole and White Bean Soup with Pancetta and Parmesan Cheese.
Of the five salads we chose Tomato Salad with Roquefort Cheese and Bacon with Creamy Basil Dressing. It was delicious. Other salads include Baby Lettuce with Beets, Goat Cheese, Pistachios and Rum-Soaked Raisins; Radicchio and Endive Salad with Bartlett Pears and Parmesan Shavings. All salads are $10.
The Main Plates on the lunch menu are ambitious. We felt that since "Triomphe" is a la Français we should sample the Classic Chicken Cordon Bleu, which was served with mashed potatoes and marvelous fresh peas. Our second main plate was an excellent Grilled Salmon with Ricotta Gnocchi tossed in Pesto Sauce. Other main dishes include Roasted Neiman Ranch Pork Tenderloin with Baked Apples; Sauteed Escarole and Thyme au Jus; Asian Steak Salad with Baby Arugula, Cucumbers, Tomatoes tossed in a Lemon Soy Vinaigrette; Triomphe Burger in a mustard and wine sauce with Mashed Potatoes; and Black Linguini with Shrimp and Mussels Fra Diavolo. Main plates start at $15 for the burger to $26 for the Asian Steak Salad.
Happily, when we were first seated and were going over the menu we sipped our cocktails, a Cosmopolitan for me and a Negroni for my companion. The wine list is by the glass or by the half bottle and the selection is very good. We enjoyed a Domaine du Carroir Perrin Sancerre from the Loire Valley and a full-bodied wonderful Topanga Cabernet Sauvignon "Black and White" from the Napa Valley. Wines by the glass are $8 to $17.
Desserts are very tempting and we shared two. The Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle Cake was served with whipped cream, berries and pomegranate molasses; it was a treat. The Dulce de Leche Creme Brulee was another winner. On a second visit we will taste the Champagne Poached Pears, the Caramel Nutella Bread Pudding, as well as the Polenta and Date Cake. All desserts are $8. There is a cheese platter at $16 and a variety of loose teas at $6.
At dinner there are such additional small plates as English Pea Wontons in a Truffle and Parmesan Broth and Pan Fried Chicken Liver Crostini with Sherry Braised Onions. Main plate additions are Grilled Tiger Shrimp with Potato Gratin, Asparagus Spears in a White Wine and Saffron Mussel Cream; Filet Mignon with a Brandy Green Peppercorn Sauce; Seared Coriander Crushed Australian Lamb with Fois Gras Stuffed Prunes. Dinner entrees are $25 to $31 for the Filet Mignon.
This is a charming spot in a recently redecorated hotel. The cuisine is described as Haute American and Rustic French.
Hours: Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for Breakfast. Lunch and Dinner 11:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday Breakfast 7:30 a.m. to Noon. Dinner 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday Breakfast 7:30 a.m. to Noon. Bar is open from 4 to 10 p.m.
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.