Besides Koreatown, the neighborhood around Herald Square can seem like a culinary wasteland. At the urging of a friend I went to check out Macaron Café on 36th Street, and encountered a bright spot. Here you will find a variety of traditional French items, and a few surprises, for very reasonable prices, ($6 – 10 mostly for sandwiches and salads both veggie and meat based). The beauty of this little gem is partially in the integrity and excellence of the ingredients used, but also the pleasant and knowledgeable staff.
And then there is the special attraction, the Macaron.
The namesake is the French cookie which come in an astonishing array of flavors and colors, (which kind of mirrors the pop aesthetic of the place itself). Think Lavender, Passionfruit, Bourbon Vanilla and Nutella to name just a few. Buy one for $1.95 to have with their excellent Macchiato, or French Press coffee. The 12 pack would make a gorgeous and colorful hostess gift.
You may also want to try one of the daily specials such as the Duck Rillete sandwich, served on home-made whole grain bread, with perfect, crunchy cornichons. This is not one of those gargantuan NY deli sandwiches, but the Rillete is so rich (with a texture similar to pate), one could easily share it with a friend and thus save room for a Rose Macaron, and the macchiato.
The only possible drawback is that it is tiny. I have been told that the line is down the street at lunch time, but if you go mid-morning, or late afternoon there may be a seat out front or inside available. Try it once even for the coffee or croissant, and you will want to return.