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Good Taste: "V" Vegetarian Sandwich Bar
March 5, 2007 by Howard Blas
"V” Vegetarian Sandwich Bar 1259 Park Avenue (between 97th and 98th), New York, NY 10029 Tel: (212) 360-7185
Open daily 7am (8am Sundays) - 10pm, Fridays till 2pm, closed Shabbat Kosher/Cholov Yisroel
Depending on your perspective, Manhattan’s new “V” Vegetarian Sandwich Bar is either between the tracks or on the “other side of the tracks.” This tiny restaurant, with its eye-catching
lime-green awning with a large “V,” is located on the Upper East Side, just east of the Metro North tracks (and looking down on them) and a block west of the subway tracks.
The only kosher consumers who routinely walk this high up on Park Avenue are medical students and visitors to Mount Sinai Hospital, usually going to one of the synagogues slightly lower down on the East Side.
Yet, the healthy, affordable fare served by “V” - not to be confused with the also fairly new kosher vegetarian “CafÃ© U,” just four blocks away on Lexington Avenue - is owned by two gregarious Israelis and may just be a hit with more than the medical student crowd.
“V” features three small tables, a counter with a window view of Park Avenue and the train tracks, and young Ramat Gan-born
Aron serving up sandwiches to order. Russian-born
Israeli, Oleg, answers phones and runs out on deliveries ("free with a $10 minimum”).
Breakfast, served until 1pm, or “whenever things are slow,” includes two eggs any style with green salad or roasted potatoes, cream cheese, toasted bread and a hot or cold drink ($5.95). Pancakes with nuts and maple or chocolate syrup or a chocolate croissant with coffee are $2.50. A feta burekas, served with a hard-boiled
egg and grated tomato, is $4.50; a simple bagel with cream cheese and coffee is $1.90.
What makes “V” unique are the “signature sandwiches.” Create your own sandwich ($5.95) from a list, which includes lettuce, tomato, cucumber, bean sprouts, carrots, olives, tuna, mushrooms, avocado, mozzarella and cheddar. For an extra $1.55, you can add salmon, goat cheese, or feta cheese. The sandwiches on the menu include feta and sun-dried
tomatoes (plus lettuce and onion, $5.95), goat cheese and roasted peppers (plus mayo, lettuce, pesto and Italian vinaigrette, $7.50), cheddar and olive spread (plus mayo, lettuce, tomato and cucumber, $5.95), and the popular, antipasti (mozzarella, mayo, lettuce, roasted eggplant, roasted peppers, roasted zucchini and roasted sweet potatoes, $7.50).
Aron, who learned cooking at age 14 from a pizza store-owning
aunt in Israel and (later) in the IDF, was kind enough to “adapt” an antipasti sandwich to my tastes, leaving off the cheese and substituting pesto for mayo; the sandwich, very well-seasoned, bordering on spicy, was served on a wonderfully hard, pressed ciabatta roll.
I passed on the soup of the day (onion, $3.90) in favor of the minestrone; it was a drop bland, but it hit the spot during a recent New York cold spell.
“Hot from the Press” sandwiches all grilled and served on either a bagel or a ciabatta roll, include the tuna press ($5.95), wild salmon ($7.95) and hot avocado ($5.95 - the za’atar [hyssop] makes it spicy).
The seven salads on the menu, all served with dressings and roll, range from the $8.95 vegetarian delight - with mesclun (young leafy greens), bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, fresh mushrooms and walnuts) - to the $10.95 “V” salad (mesclun, cherry tomatoes, apples, walnuts, grated blue cheese).
Finish off lunch or dinner with a $4.95 dessert - cheese cake, tiramisu or chocolate whiskey cake - all come from Israel, the owners say - and a hot drink.
Then, back under, over or across the tracks to work!Howard Blas