Like most good things, Starwich came by the way of a recommendation. And once I shared my second-hand “discovery” of this gourmet sandwich shop to my chow-minded colleagues, they too have been ordering from Starwich with almost clockwork regularity. And why not, when the sandwiches made of superior bread are filling, inventive, stuffed with gourmet ingredients, and at an affordable price similar to, if not cheaper than other seamless alternatives?

On any given week, my colleagues and I would make at least one meal out of Starwich sandwiches and salads. Our office favorites include a deep fried soft-shell crab sandwich so greasy but tasty that Lily is willing to risk her allergies and a braised short rib sandwich packed with tender meat and sweet, slow cooked red onions. The thick tomato soup goes hand in hand with the grilled ham and cheese sandwich sweetened by slices of golden delicious and lightly bitter endive, and at $1.95 a cup is by far one of the best soup deals in midtown. There are however some missteps, and not all sandwiches are winners. The pomegranate-juniper glazed chicken sandwich sounded intriguing in theory but yielded a bland piece of chicken breast served in a too-sweet raisin bread and with a green, unappetizing and far too bitter mix of chopped greens. Make-your-own sandwiches can be tricky too and results could disappoint based on the pick of ingredients.

In the mood for a salad? Starwich does those admirably well too. The steak salad is packed with spinach, tomatoes, cranberries and strips of grilled spicy skirt steak that may at times be juicy but during other times dried out in the process of delivery. The apples, mangos, figs and more salad is even more satisfying, and does double-duty as dessert. A true dessert however is the chocolate brownie, rich, moist and unctuous, amongst the better ones found on seamless web these days. So there are times I have to work late, but Starwich and its brownie makes me return to my cubicle post-dinner feeling much better.

Starwich

Multiple locations

www.starwich.com

 

 

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6:22 pm – The seamless order is in. Lily, Brian and I wait eagerly for our dinner from Ali Baba, scheduled to be delivered within 50 mins.

7:15 pm – I call Ali Baba and ask about our food, our order that has not arrived. The lady sounds hassled and said “We are very busy, it should be there in 20 mins.” Ok. we wait.

7:35 pm – Brian calls. “It will be there in 5 mins” the person on the other side of the conversation assured.

7:50 pm – Still waiting. Lily vows “Its the last time we order from Ali Baba”. I agree.

7.51 pm – I wail across the intracompany messenging system. “What if its delicious? Oh no… does that mean I can’t order from there anymore?” Lily replies. “Maybe if its good, you can give it a second chance.”

7.59 pm – My phone rings. The delivery man is waiting in the lobby. Finally. We pick it up and I start unpacking my meal on my paper-strewn cubicle. I dig in. The patlican salatasi is not quite smoky enough, not quite pureed. But the manti was gorgeous. Peanut M&M sized dumplings are chewy and full of juicy minced lamb. The dumplings swim in a yogurt sauce flavored with paprika and dill, that was creamy and rich instead of thin and characterless. The sauce is tangy and refreshing and breaks the monotony of the dumplings. I sop the sauce up with a half circle of turkish bread. I even contemplate spooning the sauce like soup into my mouth. It was that tasty.

 Phew… thank goodness Lily decided to give them a second chance!

Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine

212 E34th St (Bet 2nd & 3rd Aves)

www.alibabaturkishcuisine.com