A few weeks back, one of our favorite readers Emily suggested we try Penelope, a little cafe type of place on 30th and Lexington. Now I had been there about a year ago, probably on one of the worst dates of my life (where after the date, the guy announced he had a girlfriend – yes, I still am confused as to why we went out too), but I decided to not hold my hard feelings against the restaurant. So when Ben and I were looking to grab dinner by my office, we headed over to Penelope.
Penelope is a cute little restaurant, but it is cramped. While I don’t mind a cozy, intimate atmosphere, I do mind eating on top of other people. While there were other open tables in the restaurant, it seemed like they put us smack in the middle of two tables. What I found odd too was that it was 6:30 p.m. when Ben and I grabbed dinner, which is really early for Manhattan standards, but this place was hopping. I had expected it to be empty.
I debated on what to order, since a lot of items on the menu look delicious – mac and cheese, grilled cheese, BLT. I went with the warm brie and apple sandwich, with chicken on 7-grain toast. No sooner did we order, within 4 minutes our food appeared. While I loved the warm brie and apple combination, the chicken wasn’t seasoned and reminded me of the frozen chicken breast you can purchase at Trader Joe’s. I will say though that I was inspired that this is a meal I could actually make for myself next time I ventured into the kitchen, and saved it to my mental recipe rolodex. With the sandwich, came a salad. I wasn’t a fan though of the salad dressing that came with my sandwich, and pretty much left that uneaten.
After we paid the check and headed towards the door, I looked at my watch – we had been in this restaurant for less than 30 minutes. I left Penelope in a state of confusion. While the place was crowded for dinner, I felt that even though the sandwiches were priced at dinner prices (between $8-10), this was a lunch spot. The waitresses rush to get you seated and out the door, rather than sitting and enjoying a meal. Since Penelope had some other great options, I am tempted to try this restaurant again, but only for lunch. I will advise though – if you are forced to have dinner with someone and you don’t want to give up too much of your time, head to Penelope.The Basics Name: Penelope Location: 159 Lexington Ave (between 30th and 29th) Who to take: Friends Price: Cheap for dinner. A little more for lunch. $. Overall: Good sandwich, not a fan of the ambiance. 3 stars.