Well, not a restaurant, really, a fast-food place. That’s a kind of restaurant. The kind of restaurant where you are your own waiter and your service to yourself begins when the guy behind the counter yells, “#2312!” There aren’t many fast-food places I can frequent, being liberally Kosher as I am. But this month, my favorite vegetarian mini-chain, Zen Palate, opened a Faux McDonald’s in East Midtown and as soon as I had an easyish day that enabled a two subway trek to food-gather, I went for it.
The funny thing is, it’s near Grand Central, which has so many fine food choices (including a Kosher deli) that I nearly didn’t even leave it to get my Zen Burger. But I kept my eyes on the prize and finally found it in all its orangey glory. I would post pictures except for the small fact that I don’t have any. But I’ll link you to some at the bottom! Anyway, the line was out the door, even though I take a somewhat late lunch. I kind of wish I had polled people to ask them why they were there. Were they vegetarians? Bored with real meat? Thought it was healthier? Who knows! They were a mix of normal business people, hipsters, and average joes. There was one Muslim lady and a woman who was clearly a frum Jew (word to the frum, there is no hechsher that I know of). I guess the concept was supposed to be strange because there were two people stationed along the line to answer questions. I’m not often at McDonald’s, but I’m pretty sure they don’t do that. The frum lady, who was a few people in front of me, asked a lot of questions, like “is there real beef in the ZenBeef Burger?” I wanted to say, “Listen, the word Zen is like that slash through the equal sign. It means not. It’s beef, not.” When he approached me, I did have a question, “When are you coming to the West side?” He was very enthusiastic and told me they were opening 1500 locations in the next decade, including one imminently in Hollywood. Perhaps he thought I said West coast.
They had all kinds of combos of NotBurgers or NotChicken or NotShrimp and fries and drinks, and I understand their iced tea is fab, but I wanted the most FauxDonald’s I could get. So I got a Southwest burger (it had chipotle mayo and the word chipotle is just magical – it’s like the sun dried tomato of the new millennium) and Chicken FakeNuggets. By the way, these are my names, they’re all called ZenThis or ZenThat. Mine are more descriptive, though. And then I waited in a crowd of people for my number to be called. They were all glowing – it was kind of like the Apple Store for food. Which sounds strange because something called the Apple Store really should sell food.
And then I got my lunch and hauled ass back to my office. Total time, one hour. And it was great! Which is terrible. Now I’m going to be addicted to fast food like the rest of America. But maybe they will come to your town! I hear there’s a good chance of that if you live in Hollywood.
I heard about this place from a blog I subscribe to called Midtown Lunch. Which is pretty much what it’s about. He never describes anything near me, I guess I’m only on the fringe of Midtown. But it’s a fun read! And you can see Loud Orange pictures there.
Hey, instead of a song, let’s have a look at how McDonald’s is selling burgers abroad, shall we? “Rediscover the taste of liberty with the Big Tasty.” Also, stereotypes of the old West. And mullets.