Soup Kitchen International
- allan evans
After finally recovering from bronchitis, I went
and lined up, my first time, for soup at SKI. The
30 minute wait went by smoothly. Six varieties were
offered - no Seafood or Lobster Bisque, as others
had recommended, was available. Goulash,
Mulligatawny, Curried Shrimp and Potato, Black
Bean... to fortify my health I chose Chicken and
Broccoli. I obeyed all the rules and received a
roll and fruit. Now... the soup... bland, watery, a
hint of some spice, which later became unnoticed.
The broccoli was hacked into odd shapes, some too
big for the spoon (one fell to the floor), three or
four tiny pieces of chicken, tender white meat,
well cooked. The broccoli was overcooked, and I
noticed a stray potato chunk and piece of bowtie
pasta. All this for eight dollars. No hint of
caramelized onion or less labor intensive addition
of garlic, just broccoli water, overcooked bits and
the rest thrown in. The roll was definitely not
from the Tom Cat bakery and left the oven last
night, not giving the impression that rolls arrive
hourly. However the grapes and five cherries were
fresh, sweet, well chosen. The soup size ordered
was "LARGE", or a coffee cup to go multiplied by
two. Not worth the wait nor the money.
Now, maybe I ordered the wrong soup? If so, why
would this perfectionist allow such a bland failure
to disgrace his stand? Puzzled, and probably not
inclined to line up again.
I work on the west side not far fron SKI and remember
the good old days BS ( before seinfeld ). In those days
the wait averaged 5-10 minutes, the soups were
consistently outrageous and the prices were about 2
bucks less per container. The beginning of the end was
an article in the NY Times magazine section which must
have really gone to big Al's head. Then came the soup
nazi crap and the tourists backed the line up for about
an hour around lunchtime. What a shame, because even
though it was a little expensive, the flavors were
great. If you like soup try Azuri Cafe on 51st Street
just east of 10th. Ave. Excellent pea, lentil, chicken
& matzoh ball. Great shwarma & felafel sandwiches also.
Allan, I think you ran into a nasty conflux of two problems. As J. Knoesel said, things are pretty inconsistent there these days; the huge crowds, pestering media, etc etc are giving The Soup Man considerable distraction and aggravation. As he himself told Sylvia Carter, he feels he no longer deserves raves such as the ultra high score in this year's Zagat Guide. He's quite anguished about the fact that his soup quality is suffering, and acknowledges that he has bad days when he makes serious gaffes.And also you chose his worst soup. I never much liked the chicken brocolli even in The Good Old Days. His other soups are more complex and interesting.Now, should the soup have been delicious, after a 30 minute wait and paying that tab? Absolutely. So I'm sorry you had a bad experience. But I'm pretty sure that on any other day the chicken soup would have been at least a few notches better, and if you were to try another flavor you'd have at least seen the rudiments of his genius, if not had a full-blown souply experience.And one other thing: if you went back to him and told him (in specific detail) how much you disliked his soup, I can almost guarantee that you'd get a sincere apology and another free. Just make sure you move far to the left before complaining.Ciao
re: Jim Leff
As a fan of Al's, it makes me feel awful to see him sad. Without violating any confidences, he has proven to me, several times, that he places his soup over financial considerations. All of us should be as lucky to have had as many financial opportunities as he has.
Yep, the chicken vegetable has always been superior to the chicken broccoli, but I've never had the c.b. when it has seemed remotely like what we've just seen described. Hard for me to believe Al would knowingly purvey it.