I never look forward to eating around Times Square. My second date with my boyfriend was at Chevy’s Fresh Mex, but that’s only because we changed our movie location at the last minute and weren’t familiar with the area at the time. Since then, we’ve had one unexpectedly delicious French meal inside Port Authority at Metro Marché, a great sushi experience at Haru, and “real barbecue” at Virgil’s, but the majority of Times Square fare is along the lines of Applebee’s and McDonald’s. Even when I’m excited about a restaurant in the area, the idea of the crowds and the lack of cleanliness and the way the restaurants cater to tourists always turns me off.
On Friday night, though, my friends and I were celebrating a birthday with bowling at Leisure Time in Port Authority and wanted to grab a quick bite beforehand. After reading some reviews, we decided on Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen on 41st Street and 8th Avenue because of its upscale fast food feel and its all-glass exterior that would allow us to enjoy the view. The view turned out to be mostly construction going on next door, but we appreciated the thought.
The Schnipper brothers (former owners of Hale & Hearty Soups) are known for their fast food regulars like cheeseburgers and fries, but they also have a nice selection of entree salads and more gourmet sandwiches. I still had no idea what I was going to order when I stepped up to the cashier, and to my surprise, the words “Mac and Joe” came out of my mouth. That’s a cardboard tray about the size of a paperback book filled with sloppy joe and then covered in a layer of macaroni and cheese. I also ordered a salted caramel milkshake, while my two friends both got the four-cheese grilled cheese on sourdough with sweet potato fries.
It was too cold to sit outside in the roped-off sidewalk area, so we sat inside at one of the white tables under the bright white lights and waited to hear the buzz from the little devices the cashier gave us. We were a little surprised when it took more than ten minutes. Mine never actually buzzed, but I could see the milkshake sitting on the counter where the employees assemble the trays, so I finally went up and asked if I’d been forgotten and got a nice apology but a melted shake.
My Mac and Joe was exactly what I expected, and by that I mean very lowbrow but delicious in the way that comfort food always is. The macaroni and cheese wasn’t Kraft, and the sloppy joe was especially flavorful and chunky, so I was pleased. For $6.99, I got plenty full and had enough left over to share with my friends.
My friends were less excited by their grilled cheeses, which ran them $7.49 and didn’t include the $3.99 sweet potato fries. They were impressed with the four cheeses, however, and the fries were so abundant that they didn’t get finished between the three of us.
My shake was very vanilla and mildly salty but oddly un-caramely. It was thick-ish, but I was really wishing I’d gone for one of their Spoon Shakes so I could feel like I was eating dessert instead of sucking down a glass of whole milk. I’d definitely not pay $5.99 for it again, though it was delicious for what it was.
Despite some disappointments, I think Schnipper’s deserves a second chance, and I plan to go back. Not on a date and not to impress anyone but for the homemade taste of everything and for the casual environment that’s certainly nicer to sit in than a McDonald’s. For the clean white space and the promise of a Spoon Shake, I’ll pay a few dollars more for a burger anytime.