A new quick-bites place—tasty food, counter (as opposed to waiter) service, lunch or a seriously fortifying snack for under $10— is always welcome in any part of town... but in a walking-around neighborhood like Soho, it can mean the difference between grumpy pretend-shopping and a fun, goofing-around sort of day.
All of which is why I was so eager to try Rheon Cafe, with its (somewhat tenuous) Morimoto connection... and so disappointed when Debbie and I showed up at 3:45 last (opening weekend) Saturday and were told that they had already shut down the kitchen. I mean, c'mon guys! The only thing on your menu is cold sandwiches! Anyway, we suffered through a couple of croissants—my chocolate-drizzled pastry looked inviting, but was plasticky and stale; Debbie's regular was, as she put it, "horrible"—marveled at the totally-blew-it, cheesy design, and left thinking, well, that's that.
Two days later, however, I found myself solo and starving in the same nabe, and thought, heck, maybe they're actually serving food this afternoon. And they were. And, I must say, it was pretty good. Totally over-sauced, true, but definitely good. There's only five sandwiches available now (the owner promises 30 varieties, coming soon, so maybe they'll actually use the brick-oven fire that now roars pointlessly at counter's end), and they were out of one, so in one visit I sampled a full 50% of the menu.
First up: half a Roasted Duck sandwich, topped with crispy romaine, cucumber and miso sauce. The meat was tender and juicy, so there's definite potential here, but the whole thing was completely overwhelmed by what seemed like a whole bottle of the sweet, sweet miso. Ask them to please go light on the stuff, or give it to you on the side, and you may have a winner. Next I tried and thoroughly enjoyed the Beet Soup, which was thick and creamy and warm and completely about the beets. Finally I had half of a Grilled Portobello sandwich, which came with many of those canned roasted red peppers, and a ton of chipotle sauce, which I happen to really like, so although this was a total mess—the fillings slipping all around and out of the hardish bread—it was a deliciously satisfying mess. All the sandwiches, by the way, are served on a decent flatbread, which their PR claims is baked on-site, but at least for now that is not true, as Debbie and I watched them unload several crates of frozen loaves on Saturday. Heated up on-site, perhaps they meant?
Rheon Cafe is located on Spring Street between Sullivan and Thompson. They seem to be open only until 4:00, or perhaps 5:00. Closed Sundays.