913 Broadway (20/21 st), NYC

Last week we met our friend Eram for dinner at Punch. It is always challenging finding a good place to meet people for a weeknight dinner in NYC. The decision process can be overwhelming when several people are considering so many variables: time, location, cuisine, menu options, atmosphere, service, crowds, and of course, price. After trolling a few hundred places in Zagat’s advanced search, I discovered Punch and I immediately knew it was our choice for the evening. It has a prime location a few blocks north of Union Square. The restaurant is spacious with high ceilings and spread out tables and has a modern vibe. The menu is American with definite Italian and Asian influences and has enough variety for everyone. Our table had the gnocchi with walnuts and the spicy edamame to start. Both were good, although the gnocchi dish could have had more pasta and fewer vegetables. The edamame was a big portion and the spice packed a punch. For mains, we got seared tuna and Asian vegetables, which was fresh and light, the way it is supposed to be; the roasted cod with potato puree, which was soft and creamy and comforting; and the papparadelle and veal bolognese, which I loved – it had a deep meaty wine flavor (see pics below). The dish is usually a big favorite of mine and I was quite impressed with it.

Punch does not pack a wallop, and I won’t be running back next week, but it is very solid in all departments, and is a very good place to meet up with friends or a date, based on our experience there. Note: It has a wine bar upstairs, called Wined Up, which we did not visit, but is supposed to be good and has an inviting small plates menu.