MacDougal Street’s griddle treats.

I’ve ignored a couple of previous favorite MacDougal St. eateries lately, given that Hummus Place is so astonishingly and consistently good (their latest menu addition: ShakSuka, which is described as a Mediterranean vegetable stew, but looking and tasting more like your grandmother’s stewed tomatoes, if they were served in a skillet with pita bread on the side).  So, today, I went back to Kati Roll and PressToast, to see if they were still good enough to recommend.

My first stop was PressToast, on MacDougal between Minetta Lane and Bleecker, which I frequented for a time just after it opened in 2004.  I had always enjoyed their iteration of toast, which shares nothing with the Blue Ribbon version other than bread – Israeli toast is like a panino made on extra-soft bread, and it’s grilled on a flat griddle press rather than a ridged one.  I’m not exactly sure why I stopped going – I think it coincided roughly with my discovery of Abbondanza around the corner.  Anyway, I was tickled to find it this summer at the 68th position on Sietsema’s current list of cheap eats, and decided to go again at some point (some point being, of course, six months later).

PressToast, I’m happy to say, has improved – they’ve added a small seating area and have expanded their menu to include the Israeli wraps known as Mallawah, added sliced chicken to their list of potential toast/wrap ingredients, and upped their dressing possibilities by including Russian and honey mustard.  I tried the new chicken avocado toast ($4), which also included tomatoes, onions, and ranch dressing.  Quite good – I didn’t notice the ranch as much as I thought, but warmed avocadoes, tomatoes, and onions always do me right, and the chicken was a nice touch, too.  I also remember them having a mean mint lemonade, but I didn’t try it this time.

After picking that up (I actually recommend eating it there rather than taking away, if the weather’s not frigid), I headed across the street to Kati Roll.  Apparently part of a chain that includes at least a midtown branch and the less-than-satisfying Indian Bread Company around the corner, Kati Roll was a very frequent destination of mine last year.  Again, I’ve not been back in a while, but little has changed – the Bollywood movie posters still hang on the wall, and the prices ($3.50-$4.50 for most rolls, with a two-roll deal that knocks a buck or so off the price) haven’t changed.

Also not changing is the inconsistency of the food.  I’ve had paneer (cheese) rolls there, when warmed enough and with fresh bread, that truly were great.  I’ve also had the very same paneer rolls be heated not nearly enough and be drab.  Given that my two favorites there are the paneer and the aloo (potato) rolls (I think the meats are too dry – the reheating doesn’t work as well), I would advise that, if you get a paneer roll, watch it like a hawk to make sure it stays on the grill long enough, and eat it in-store.

I was carrying out, so I opted for the aloo roll, which is surprisingly spicy.  The aloo is heaped onto the grill from an unseen container and flipped once – it’s fairly resistant to the reheating process, which made it my most frequent carryout roll.  The bread was a bit greasy this time around, which is always frustrating to note when they’re making fresh bread on the griddle in the back of the store.  It could also have been the sauce squirted on the roll (and that later squirted on my keyboard…whoops!) that was making the bread translucent, I suppose, and the carryout, again, does nobody any favors.

I can absolutely recommend Kati Roll, but unfortunately with the caveat that their food is inconsistent as hell, due mostly to preparation methods.  PressToast is much more likely to yield a satisfying meal, in my mind, and now that they have a seating area for the cold winter months, may yet see more of my business.  Hey, I’ve got a frequent toaster card with eight punches – just one more and I’ll get free toast, which is about as cheap and satisfying a meal as is possible.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “MacDougal Street’s griddle treats.

  1. I’ve never been to Kati Roll, but I tried Indian Bread Co once and thought it was alright. Overall, I don’t eat much Indian food…for no real reason. I like it, but I geuss there’s usually something else I’d rather have? 🙂 I only tried PressToast once last spring on a whim (it was there and sounded cute); I got a honey and banana sammich, which is perfect for me. BECAUSE I’M ADDICTED TO SUGAR! It would be hard to make honey and bananas NOT taste good.Mmm, Hummus Place…I don’t like hummus enough to go here much, but I did go once and emerged totally chickpea-ed.

  2. Indian Bread Company and Kati ROll share some menu items, but not ownership. Kati ROll Company does indeed share owner with Babu downstairs, but that’s a full service restaurant with a completely different menu. Very worth trying, I must add – specially the kosha mangsho.

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