When Cafe 202 popped up on BlackBoard eats, I’d never heard of it. The more I looked online to read more about it and after I went to the restaurant, I understood why. It’s located on the North side of the Chelsea Market, but has no clearly marked sign. With our 30% off code though, I was game for trying it, only previously having been to the Chelsea Market to hit some of the food stores or for the Food2 launch event. We finally walked in and asked the hostess if we were in the right place before we could tell yes, in fact we were.
The restaurant is located on the right side of the store for Nicole Farhi, not even behind a defined partition to separate where the store ends and the restaurant begins. If you feel so inclined after the stores hours have expired, you can even peruse the racks of jackets and dresses on your way back to the restrooms. Perhaps after some of their cocktails (highly recommend the lilac-infused Titanic specialty, which includes a elderflower sorbet mini-iceberg floater), you’ll feel more inclined to buy. The outdoor space was particularly nice, overlooking the start of the bustling Meat Packing District as well as those coming and going from the popular Chelsea Market. When the warm temps return, I would say this is a wonderful spot for a light bite and early evening drinks.
I was excited enough about the idea of their fried green tomatoes that I momentarily overlooked the $8 pricetag (though um ow – my wallet did hurt a little at the thought) and just ordered them. And the order only included three to boot. I was pleasantly surprised to find underneath the crisp batter that they’d included a thin layer of melted mozzarella cheese. Can’t say I’ve seen them prepared that way before, but it was excellent. Though Clinton Street Baking Company still serves up my favorite more tradition rendition, I give Cafe 202 the honors for king of the variation.
For my main course, I went with the lamb burger, which was topped with goat cheese and served with chickpea fries. I’ll confess I was probably more intrigued by the fries (fresh, light, unique) than the burger (too thick, too juicy, borderline bloody). I went with their recommended temperature of “medium”, which really came out more “medium rare”, something I didn’t catch until I’d made it more towards the middle and had juice all over my lap. I was very thankful I wasn’t on a date… whew. My friend went with the fish tacos, which she said were amazing. I could smell them as they came out. Just a bit spicy, they were not the more tame offering most places have. Kudos. All of the negative reviews I read on them online made me confirm what my usual thought is – it’s not bad until I’ve tried it and think it’s bad. Period.
For dessert, we opted to split the profiteroles. I’ve had them before and sometimes they come served in a portion which would not be sufficient to split between two people. Not the case here. Each one was large enough for us to try. They were prepared with three different ice creams – espresso, chocolate and dulce de leche. So good and nice choice in variety.
Overall, I did find this on the pricier side for what you get. I’d definitely come back, sit outside (obviously after the cold has passed), order some fried green tomatoes and a Titanic. If I went with a main course, it would be the fish tacos. The lamb burger? It was a one-timer.
Cafe 202 – 75 Ninth Ave. (at W 16th Street) – 646.638.1173