« Alfama | Main | Telepan »

Szechuan Gourmet (39th Street)

Last year, I visited Szechuan Gourmet on 56th Street, the newest branch of that venerable and successful chainlet. I wanted to try the 39th Street branch that had won two stars from Frank Bruni in 2008.

On a menu with 100 items and numerous daily specials, it is impossible to draw definitive conclusions from just two dishes. Nevertheless, we liked Szechuan Gourmet 39 much less than SG 56.

I thought that Sun-Dried Pork Belly with Leeks ($14.95; above left) might be the pork belly dish that Bruni liked. On re-reading, I am not sure, because Bruni called it an appetizer and didn’t mention leeks. This was apparently meant to be an entrée, but it is not really a successful one. The bacon was cloying and a bit too greasy. It needed heat or textural contrast, which the leeks didn’t supply.

My son ordered less adventurously, choosing Prawns in Spicy Garlic Sauce ($20.95; above right), a dish offered (in some form) at every Chinese restaurant in town. This was certainly a much higher quality version of it.

If I cannot offer a definitive comparision of the food between the two Szechuan Gourmet branches, I can certainly say that 39th Street is a far less pleasant space than 56th Street. No one would call the uptown branch elegant, but it feels like a restaurant, a place you wouldn’t mind lingering in. Here, you order, you eat, you leave.

At 8:00 p.m. on the Sunday evening of a holiday weekend, when many New Yorkers were out of town, we waited about 10–15 minutes to be seated in a full dining room. Service was inattentive, although the food came out promptly.

There is certainly more of the menu I would like to try, but as more-or-less the same menu is available at 56th Street, I think I’ll go there.

Szechuan Gourmet (21 W. 39th St. between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, West Midtown)

Food: *
Service: Fair
Ambiance: Fair
Overall: *

Reader Comments (1)

I think the 2 locations are catering to different demographics. The 56th St location targets, quite frankly, a non-Chinese crowd. The food reflects this: the dishes at the 39th St location are far spicier.

July 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>