119 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 414-1717

Speeds and I always talk about getting together. But somehow, a combination laziness, being too busy, commuter fatigue, dating, sleepiness, family obligations, travel, various TV shows, and drinking until 4 AM seem to get in the way. Luckily, with the help of Mr. Dogz, we pulled it off. About damn time.

She wanted a place near her. Dogz wanted a place that was reasonably priced. I wanted a place that people would be interested reading about. The conclusion: Cafeteria, a trendy restaurant/bar with club music blasting so loud that you're forced to scream at the top of your lungs, just so your friend's hot friend can have a halfway decent fight with you. ...So it goes.

With four of us going and only three of us having yet arrived, we were told to wait. Yeah, this is one of those places. If your whole party ain't here yet, keep standing. And no amount of my usually successful, flirty sarcasm worked at getting the hostesses to seat us before Dogz showed up. I had to rely on Speeds to cajole them into giving the three of us a table for four. And yes, I said Dogz. For the first time ever, Speeds beat him to dinner. I will credit her aforementioned hot friend.

Cafeteria seemed more pricey this time around, with fewer of the traditional comfort food items that they're known for. The menu still had mac and cheese and meatloaf, but it seemed to have more attempts at haute dining as well. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention the first few times. But a peek at the older Menupages menu tells me that I'm not.

To keep things on the low-cost side, we skipped the hooch and stuck with water and cola.

The first thing you need to know about Cafeteria is that, salads aside, this ain't no healthy menu. Dogz and I split the Mac and Cheese Spring Rolls. This is pretty much macaroni and cheese, stuffed into a pocket of dough, deep fried to perfection and served with a cheese sauce. Good. Not good for you. Luckily, but sadly, it's not that big. Our marathon-running female friends refused to inhale that many empty calories. Suckers. More for us.

Speeds ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad. I won't bother to describe it. For those not in the know, read this. Well, did you like the salad?, I asked. "Yeah, but it tasted like every other caesar salad on the planet" came her reply. So not bad, but not memorable either. On the other hand, this is supposed to be comfort food. Same-ol'-same-ol' can be comforting sometimes. Speaking of which, you can't get more comfortable than Country Fried Steak, which was my pick. Take a steak. Smother it in batter and toss that sucker in the fryer. Serve it over mashed potatoes and drown it in gravy. This is much like the deep fried macaroni and cheese, only it might actually be worse for you. This meal is why southerners are so fat. And happy. And fat.

Hot friend ordered the Spicy Roasted Chicken, served with buttermilk chive mashed potatoes, green beans and a tomato relish. She, being as honest as possible while maintaining a respectable level of politeness, said it was okay, but not very spicy. I stole a bite. Well, she was right about it not being spicy. At all. But it was also thoroughly mediocre and I might even go so far as to say I didn't like it. It's not something I can bother recommending. Last but not least, Mr. Dogz ordered the Cafeteria Burger with avocado with fries. It's hard to go wrong with a hamburger. Just ask Dave Thomas. And Dogz had nothing but delicious praise across the board for his dish.

For dessert, I ordered the Strawberry Shortcake Parfait with mascarpone and vanilla ice cream. Meh. Not worth ten bucks. Speeds and co. shared an order of Fresh Berries with Vanilla Whipped Cream. This was pretty good and I especially liked the vanilla whipped cream. But it was a glass of berries... with whipped cream. It wasn't terribly wowing. Better than mine though.

One appetizer, two diet Cokes, four entrees, a coffee and two desserts, plus tax and tip came to $115 even.

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