here’s now a reason to walk as far west as 44th Street and 11th Avenue. That barren stretch of Midtown Manhattan last week welcomed Gotham West Market, a 10,000-square-foot food hall with a strong nod to Brooklyn. Developed by the Gotham Organization as a component of its Gotham West residential building, the market boasts options ranging from tapas at El Colmado to burgers at Genuine Roadside—not to mention the much-hyped Ivan Ramen, a ramen noodle hot spot that launched in Japan. Following a seven-month wait that had food bloggers salivating, the Chelsea Market-like venue opened Wednesday to generally rave reviews. Below, a minute-by-minute chronicle of the lunch rush on its first day in business.
11:18 a.m.: The Commercial Observer begins the trek west to 11th Avenue, walking across the comparatively bustling stretch of Ninth Avenue and along to 10th, then 11th, passing on the way one of Manhattan’s few gas stations and a number of taxi management companies. Who’s hungry? 11:29: The lunch rush hasn’t hit Gotham West yet. A smattering of patrons sit at each of the vendors’ stations mulling over menus. 11:33: Employees at El Colmado, a Spanishstyle tapas bar, rush around to put the finishing touches on the counter and assemble neatly in a row awaiting customers. We can’t spot the duo that broke the news we had snuck into the place Tuesday night. 11:38: Patrons at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, one of Ivan Orkin’s first restaurants outside Japan, sip coffee and fiddle with iPads, presumably waiting for service to begin. 11:42: The Commercial Observer ignorantly orders a “black coffee” at Blue Bottle and are quickly corrected that we want drip. The cashier says business has been steady, and, judging by the coffee cups laying around, he isn’t lying. 11:44: After asking if The Commercial Observer works in the area, the Blue Bottle employee that gets the coffee started says everyone is excited to be open for business. “It’s been ‘hurry up and wait’ for so long. Are you going to stay for lunch?” 11:48: After watching coffee drip for what seems like an eternity, The Commercial Observer is served. Blue Bottle Coffee is good quality but not for the impatient. 11:50: The line at Genuine Roadside, a Gotham West original that serves “classic American roadside fare,” begins to build. The restaurant’s menu boasts a number of options, including the Everyone Loves Fancy Pants Burger, Buttermilk Battered Chicken Sandwich and Masa-Crusted Fish Sandwich. Despite the tempting offerings, The Commercial Observer in. After briefly fumbling around with chopsticks, we get down to business and begin shoveling the food in with a spoon. Not bad. 2:40: There is a decidedly Brooklyn vibe at Gotham West—the tattoo and beard count is high. Interestingly enough, Brooklyn Kitchen’s Food Store is noticeably the least popular outlet. The Commercial Observer ducks its head in for the second time today and sees not a single patron. Employees rearrange the refrigerator, just in case. can’t decide which roadside these items are served on. It isn’t I-80. 11:52: “Is that Mexican Coke?” one patron asks her friend after ordering, pointing to his glass bottle. “Yeah, pretty cool,” he replies. 12:02: The counter at Ivan Ramen, which 15 minutes earlier had a number of open seats, is now full, with guests eagerly awaiting the first batch of orders. 2:25: The Commercial Observer returns to Gotham West Market for a late lunch. Eyeing an open spot at the counter, we get in line to place an order at Ivan Ramen for the slowcooked pork donburi rice bowl. The line to order moves briskly, and we snag a seat. 2:30: The Commercial Observer is served its rice bowl promptly and tucks 2:43: The Commercial Observer can’t resist and decides to check out the beer refrigerator. There’s enough of a selection for the snobby and egalitarian alike with 21st Amendment stacked alongside Anheuser-Busch. For the Brooklyn crowd, there’s plenty of PBR but sadly no Schlitz. 2:47: The Commercial Observer spots a vintage boom box and accompanying rack of cassettes adorning the wall at Genuine Roadside. Hastily preparing to be judgmental about the music selection, The Commercial Observer is thrilled to see that the Grateful Dead’s 1987 release In the Dark is part of the collection. It’s not a ’71 bootleg, but we’ll take it. Score one for the hippies. 2:52: At last, a customer exits Brooklyn Kitchen. A soda is his only buy.


Order Up on the Far West Side


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