Punch Restaurant: Swinging Hit or Miss
Punch Restaurant’s central location on Broadway in Flatiron has turned it into one of my go-to meeting places for friends who live uptown (or rather, above 14th St.) Uncomplicated and not terribly expensive, Punch serves up above-average food in a clean and bright atmosphere.
The restaurant itself is composed of a bar/cafe upfront where you can eat without reservations and the dining room in the back where reservations are recommended. On all the occasions on which I’ve been to Punch, it has been relatively busy and my reservations definitely ensured faster seating. The bar is fairly lively with rustic ceiling fans and whicker armchairs. The more subdued dining room is characterized by luxe and plush banquette seating, towering flower arrangements, and ornate candelabras.
The food is good. I wouldn’t call it truly extraordinary, but it is palatable, inventive, and fresh. The cuisine is billed as primarily Mediterranean with East Asian influences. However, the actual menu options run the gamut from traditional American to Italian to Japanese-influenced to French to Caribbean. The dinner menu features dishes such as tempura-battered string beans, truffled blue crab fritters, a mediterranean plate with hummus and babaganoush, rosemary marinated chicken paillard, cast iron hangar steak, and coriander spiced Atlantic salmon. As you can see, the influences are all over the place – even to the point of be disconnected and confusing.
The brunch menu takes a completely different tack, offering traditional brunch dishes such as cheddar grits, huevos rancheros, buttermilk pancakes, homemade chicken and apple sausage, and salmon eggs benedict.
Regardless of the menu’s schizophrenic nature, the food is very tasty – well-seasoned, reliable, and not too complicated.
Punch’s Achilles heel is the service. Almost everyone in the restaurant seems to be operating under a fog, moving slowly, talking slowly, thinking slowly. It’s off-putting and unmotivating. It lends a certain sluggishness to the restaurant’s vibe.
All in all though, Punch is a great go-to place that is easy on the wallet for a business lunch, a catch-up dinner, or a brunch that is conveniently located to all. You can’t beat being within 2 blocks of the 6, 1, F/V, and N/R/W!