Our perpetual search for a good lunch in midtown has brought us today to Melange Green & Gourmet, a deli on 39th & 3rd. Melange appears to be a pretty run-of-the-mill spot, albeit a small, takeout-only one, with a standard assortment of salads, sandwiches, breakfast offerings, and Boar's Head meats. The size of the sandwich menu, however, is staggering, with 64 options to choose from (67 if you count the three listed as "not available"), almost all of which are in the neighborhood of $7.
A Chicken Cutlet with Pesto sandwich ($6.99) pressed on French bread with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, was a personal favorite of mine, and the pesto was an especially nice touch, but the chicken itself was woefully under-seasoned. Ask for yours with a pinch of salt.
The Prosciutto ($7.50), the first of 18 cold combo sandwiches, includes prosciutto di Parma, fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and herb olive oil on a semolina baguette. Each of the sandwich's individual components are quite good, but unfortunately, everything just gets kind of overwhelmed by the bread, reducing the flavor of the prosciutto and mozzarella to little more than a pleasant saltiness. If they tweaked the ratios a bit, this could be very good.
There's a reasonably satisfying Corned Beef sandwich ($6.50), pressed with cornichons, Swiss cheese, and "dijon" mustard (more on that in a bit) on rye bread. The shaved corned beef itself is okay, slightly better than supermarket cold cuts, but not extraordinary, and a little dry. Also, I'm convinced the "dijon" mustard is just deli mustard. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just mark it correctly.
Of the sandwiches we tried, the Italian Combo ($6.99) was definitely the weakest of the bunch. In contrast to the other sandwiches, the Italian bread here was completely forgettable, and the number of ingredients was a bit low by Italian Combo standards, with only one cheese (provolone) and two meats (soppressata and decidedly non-Italian Black Forest ham) What was there was decent, there just needed to be more variety. Additionally, the ingredients had an annoying tendency to separate from the bread as I was eating it. Structural integrity is not the strong suit here.
Each sandwich came with a free soup or salad, and we opted for the Chicken Vegetable Soup, which had no discernible amount of chicken. Robyn described it best as "flavor water." Lindsay Bluth would be proud, but we'd urge you skip it.
While the sandwiches as Melange all generally left a bit to be desired, it's a solid spot for the area, and considering the prices, a reasonably good value, too. The chicken cutlet and prosciutto are a few tweaks away being very good, and while the Italian combo was disappointing, we'd have to imagine that with 66 other options to choose from, you could find some much better sandwiches at Melange.
About the author: Ben Jay is an editorial intern at Serious Eats, photographer, carnivore, beer and whisky drinker, and music nerd. He's very happy to not work in midtown anymore. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.