August 13th, 2008

cavestory

no soup for you (more soup for me)

Today I had lunch at the Soup Nazi. (Not the original store on 55th Street, but their franchise location at Pearl and Hanover, four or five blocks from the stock exchange.) Despite his claims that Seinfeld ruined his business, Mr. Yeganeh seems to have done pretty well for himself. His restaurants have secured an excellent Zagat rating and the walls are virtually plastered with clippings of hyperbolic newspaper reviews (the NY Times calls it "not soup, but art") and the franchise has gone national. Interestingly, the company seems torn between capitalizing on the Seinfeld episode and trying to bury its existence. The franchise is called "The Soup Man" (I am told the moniker "Soup Nazi" offends Yeganeh) and the Pearl St. location, at least, doesn't enforce Yeganeh's legendarily strict set of rules. But they're well aware that they owe their success to Seinfeld--their advertising posters are captioned "Soup for You!" and Mr. Yeganeh's scowling mug is printed on every bowl.

So is the soup really as good as Seinfeld makes it out to be? In a word: Fuck yeah!* Thirteen dollars for a cup of Yeganeh's signature crab bisque, half a basil-tomato-mozzarella sandwich, and a can of soda might seem exorbitant, but if you take into consideration that they also give you a free chunk of bread, a piece of fresh fruit, and a complimentary piece of candy--all the freebies Yeganeh arbitrarily gave some customers when he ran the place--it's not such a bad deal.

Sandwich: toasty panini grilled foccacia, not too thin or too thick, with just enough of each ingredient to let the flavors blend. Lemon juice is a nice touch. The kind of sandwich a three-year DeCafe vet would make if she was hopelessly in love with you.
Soup: like all things crab, it tastes fancy. Warms the soul, but will probably get something less pricey next time.
Bread: thick and crusty but not spongy enough for dipping.
Plum: has a sticker on it that I couldn't peel off.
Tootsie Roll: is a fucking Tootsie Roll.

Summary: It tastes more posh than it looks. Worth every penny--but damn, that's a lot of pennies. (For a casual Quiznos-esque lunch place, anyway.)

*I can't count, apparently.