On a recent lunch outing we found a little magic in the food at Presto, a new restaurant on Allen at Franklin. They took over the space vacated by Cafe 59 who moved across the street.
The location makes use of a series rooms, the entry is filled by little other than a drink cooler, a few magazines, a couple chalk boards with menus, and the order counter.
The set up is a semi-fast food program where you place your order, pay, find a seat and wait for your food to be delivered to your table. A nice, civilized, efficient method in my book. As long as it isn’t accompanied by plastic furniture, which it was not. Beverages are selected from various bottled drinks in the cooler. We went with a couple waters and an iced tea.
With some valuable input from the cook herself, who stepped out of the kitchen briefly to the counter, we placed our orders and wondered to the back and found a comfortable table for four. Much like the neighborhood, Presto is a eclectic make up of colors, decor and flavors- strange but compelling. The walls are a vivid purple and green, the tables a stately dark wood, the rooms are a hodgepodge of sizes and shapes once home to separate retail fronts. The large windows offer a good opportunity to people watch.
Our orders showed up in about 5 minutes. Pretty much everything is house made, including sauces – even the peanut butter and jelly.
- African Bean Fritters: mashed pink beans, black eyed peas, with ginger, jalapeno & onion, served with garlic ketchup $4.00
- Tzatziki & Toasted Pita $3.00.
The African Bean Fritters were very interesting- crumbly odd texture with nice flavor, made special by a tasty garlic ketchup — neither of which I’ve ever even seen. The fresh pita went fast with a light clean Tzatziki.
For our entrees:
- Chimichuri Burger served with chili mayo, grilled onion and pepper & goat cheese; side of sautéed plantains maduros $14.00.
- Shrimp & Mofongo – Scampi fried shrimp and mashed green plantains with garlic & avocado side salad $13.50
- BBQ Chicken Kabob – homemade BBQ sauced Chicken with grilled onion pepper and pineapple, served over sticky rice $12.50.
I’d say the burger was a cooked a little more than I’d prefer, but the combination of the goat cheese pepper, onion, chimichuri flavor and a nicely toasted bun was delicious. The plantains maduros (chips) a great touch. The shrimp was nicely seasoned and went great with the Mofongo which has an interesting flat taste to it that needs a spicy wing man. The chicken kabob was nice, pushed over the average range by a fine homemade BBQ sauce with areal zest of flavor. These three all come from the Summer Dinner section of the menu.
Items we’ll return for:
San Juan: romaine, avocado, garbanzo beans, onion, bacon, tomatoes, shredded cheddar & cilantro ranch dressing $7.50
Florentina: romaine lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese & chopped hard-boiled egg, Caesar dressing $7.00
Babylon: mixed field greens, pickled cabbage, goat cheese, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, cucumbers & red peppers, with tahini dressing $8.00
Nachos: corn tortilla chips smothered in sharp cheddar cheese, our vegetarian chili, served with salsa, guacamole &sour cream $7.00
Cold Sandwiches (served on a Hard Roll, Italian, Wheat or Pita)
Presto: Fresh mozzarella, sliced tomato, field greens with basil aioli and balsamic reduction $7.00
PB+J: house made peanut butter + strawberry jam. (Grilled if you like) $4.00 Add Nutella, Fluff or banana $1.00
Chicken Salad: romaine, tomatoes &sharp cheddar cheese – $6.50
Grilled Chicken Paisano: marinated chicken breast, fresh mozzarella, tomato, field greens and pesto mayonnaise $7.25
Meatball Melt: 2 homemade meatballs, sauce and parmesan cheese $7.25
Apple Cinnabun Crispy Treat: Cinnamon, caramel, apple butter & crispy rice cereal, drizzled with pastry glaze $2.25
Everything on the menu is available all day. Everyone enjoyed their meals – good flavor, well presented and plenty of home grown creativity. If you’re looking for an easy-going casual meal with plenty of yum factor look no further than Presto.
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