Editor's note: Please welcome our newest New York contributor, Tia Kim! The author of Bionic Bites, Tia will be checking out the grub at a different bar each week in her column "Raising the Bar."
On the way home a few weeks ago, I saw a chalkboard sign outside Marshall Stack that made me smile. Someone had written "Allen Street, the Champs-Élysées of New York." Having recently stepped in a puddle of human urine in front of my apartment, I knew with great certainty that Allen Street was far from "the most beautiful avenue in the world." But someone in Marshall Stack obviously had a sense of humor—and I was intrigued.
Walking into Marshall Stack, with its wobbly wooden tables and bright throwback jukebox, one feels suddenly at ease. The bartender is actually nice—a rare thing, in this neck of the woods—and when I ordered a nine dollar glass of Malbec, he kindly reminded me that it was their happy hour (until 7pm) and the house red, a Nero D'Avola, cost only four dollars.
I took him up on the offer and settled by the large windows facing Allen after placing an order for a Duck Club ($11) and an Asparagus Goat Cheese Panini ($9). All the food is made in an open "kitchen"—well, a panini press, toaster oven, and refrigerator—at the end of bar. A few sips into my friendly medium-bodied red, and the sandwiches were ready.
The Duck Club arrives garnished with potato chips sitting on top of brown butcher paper. There’s no plate, but that's the Marshall Stack charm. Filled with crunchy bacon, sliced duck, and lettuce and tomatoes between chewy pieces of Sullivan Street Bakery bread smeared with mild wasabi mayonnaise, the sandwich is good—but both the bacon and duck are slightly overdone. Considering the duck is skinless, less-rendered bacon would have made for a juicier sandwich.
Surprisingly, it's the vegetarian Asparagus Goat Cheese Panini that steals the show. The Sullivan Street Bakery ciabatta is pressed hot and crunchy, and the earthy combination of the young asparagus, fresh chèvre, and truffle oil is tasty and soul-satisfying.
Marshall Stack may not be on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, but it’s a laid-back neighborhood bar with friendly service and good food—not easy to come by in Paris, or in New York.
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