Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Bread & Olive
24 W 45th St, New York City
(212) 391-7772
Review by Susu, MaceVindaloo

Holes-in-the-wall hold a special place in our hearts, simply because they appear to be a paradox of eating in the big city. However, these types of places — good, cheap, fast — probably only exist in the big city in a shabby or difficult-to-access part of town. Add "unique" to that mix and you can forget the sometimes sketchy location and cramped facilities.

This place, however, is located in Midtown Manhattan, not far from where some of us work and play. They offer what is now standard Mediterranean fare: humus, babaghanoush, tabouleh, dolmas, moussaka, falafel, all on a cold buffet (which they serve up for you). Hot offerings are grilled meats: essentially what we grew up on as shishkebab. There are also flatbread pizzas, perfect for lunch or dinner as a singler serving.

The decor is not minimal. Given the cost of Manhattan real estate (in the $100s per square foot as rent), efficiency is important, even for the tiniest of hole-in-the-walls. This place is decorated in modern "techno" materials — corrugated green sheets lining the ceiling, mirrors, tables lined with what looks like industrial flooring, and the dominant color is a bright sort of lime green The space is about 12 feet wide and maybe 400 feet long, and includes the buffet, grill station, kitchen, office, seating area, cash register, etc. It's all crammed in there, but didn't really feel cramped. There must be no storage space, because cases of soda were stacked next to diner's chairs in the middle of the space.

For $7, you can get a falafel platter, or moussaka. I had never liked moussaka because of the required bechamel, making it a super heavy meal. But here, it was eggplant stewed with tomatoes, onions, and chickpeas. The eggplant was still a bit firm, not falling apart. Though it could have done with more salt, it was delicious and not at all greasy, and served with salad.

For $10, you got a plate of any 5 vegetable dishes. We got hummus, babghanoush, tabouleh (which was very parsley heavy, but good), what they referred to as lima beans but looked more like white fava beans, and dolmas. They were not spectacular or lifechanging, merely good, solid fare and though filling, you could feel virtuous for eating something that wasn't meat or fat laden.

Dinner for three, including sodas and flatbread (which came rolled up in a tube lined by a piece of greaseproof paper), came to $26. It was very filling and we all had leftovers. You select and pick up your food at the front counter and bus it yourself to the seating area, so no tip required. This is an important thing for budget eaters, but if they did a nice job getting your stuff packed together, you can show your appreciation by leaving a bit in the tip cup up front on your way out.

In a town known for its high costs and dining "experiences," it's nice to have a place to eat something simply for its nutritive value. It's tasty and inexpensive and there are no waiters to give you attitude. They are emptier at dinner, when take-out orders dominate, so try it then. Lunchtime, it's bustling and crazy-busy (this is a business district). But just choose what you want, pay for it, get out, and eat on the go. It's a bit messy for that, but there are parks and public spaces where you can stop and have a bit of a picnic if the weather is good.

Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. This webpage is presented by Wookieehut.com. Enjoy!