In the land of the steam table deli, The Picnic Basket proudly focuses on fresher, healthier food. Their sandwiches ($8.25 each), largely updated deli classics, are a worthwhile option for a lunch around Herald Square.
I'm rarely one to gravitate towards a turkey sandwich, but the Mediterranean Turkey impressed me. The turkey is moist and has a great smoky flavor, cornichons offer a briny crunch, and greens and tomato add a little freshness. Good bread can make or break a sandwich, and the fresh, crusty, flavorful ciabatta falls distinctly on the "make" side. It's the hummus, though, that is the real surprise here—creamy without being overly rich, more sandwiches could benefit from swapping this out for the typical mayo and mustard.
The Crunchy Tuna is a similar improvement over the average tuna sandwich. Tuna salad can be a gloppy, mayonnaise-drenched mess, but the fish here is dressed lightly, and the bread is more than capable of handling a little moisture. An assortment of vegetables—pickles, corn, and carrots—provide the eponymous crunch. When you get them, they're a big improvement to the sandwich. We only wish they were applied more liberally.
With good bread, interesting ingredients, and respectable portions, The Picnic Basket is more than a small step above most Midtown delis.
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