Bistro 54, a deli that goes above and beyond

Deli-style hot and cold buffets never looked so good.

At Bistro 54, the effort placed on presentation is evident fromthe moment you see the decorative touches to the renovated brickstorefront – hammered tin ceilings, cushioned seating against thewall, sanded wood furnishings – and continues when the friendlywait-staff hands you a brightly painted plate full of salad,chicken marsala, gyros, buffalo wings, sweet potato fries, eggs andbacon, or a burger and fries.

The attention to appearance and ambiance is part of an effort byowner Alex Makris to cater to his clientele of Lutheran MedicalCenter employees and patient families, who could use a respite froma stressed-out world. Now in its seventh month, the Second Avenueeatery, which sits between 54th and 55th Streets, invites dinersfrom the hospital and beyond to enjoy its fare.

As well as a soup of the day and daily specials like SalisburySteak and broiled filet of sole, which help Makris establish whatthe customers want, there are open-air bread and pizza stations inaddition to the cold cut and salad case, while the back kitchenlovingly prepares the hot meals, of which there are many options,from all-day breakfast platters and wraps, salads and appetizers tohot sandwiches, panini, quesadillas, eight ounce beef burgers,pizzas and calzones.

The Thai Sesame Salad ($6.95) was the first dish to stand out.It was artfully arranged, with a fan of perfectly fresh, sweet andnutty avocado slices sprinkled with sesame seeds atop a bed oflettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, red onions, beets,sliced olives and corn kernels.

The Taco Pizza ($19 full, $5.95 pan size) was a fun option,combining the elements of the iconic Tex-Mex treat – a ground beef,lettuce, tomatoes and arcs of purple onion – all on a pizza crust.Each ingredient was arranged in layers on a chewy, cornmeal-dustedcrust, baked win a brick oven, and sprinkled with grated cheddarand mozzarella cheese.

Grilled chicken over Mexican-style rice was a dinner-style dishthat featured tender, lightly browned filets of breast meat on abed of corn and pea-studded yellow rice. The rice was chewy, butflavorful, and worked well with the vegetables.

Finally, the grilled chicken pesto panini ($6.95) featuredchunks of white meat chicken rolled into warm pita bread, entwinedwith strips of roasted red pepper and dressed with freshly madepesto. Melted American cheese added another grace note to thesandwich, which was filling and substantial.

Affordable, tasty and quick, Bistro 54’s food and service is agreat option for when you’re on the go or just need a no-fussmoment away from the daily grind.

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