I don't know what it is with me. I can love a restaurant — seriously, get all twelve-year-old girl about it, just luuurve it to death — and write about it endlessly for a week, two weeks, whatever, and then not go back for two years. But when I hate a restaurant? I just can't leave the place alone. I keep going back and back and back, trying to decipher what, exactly, has made it go so wrong.
So even after this week's review of Beaucoup Burrito was in the can, last Friday afternoon I found myself back there, ordering one last green-curry chicken burrito. And after I dropped it in the trash, again, I decided it might be edifying to pay a visit to Beaucoup's parent restaurant next door: Three Sisters Cafe.
The two could not be more different. While the six-month-old Beaucoup tries (and fails) to be groundbreaking and innovative and globe-trotting, Three Sisters is simply a run-of-the-mill soup-and-sandwich spot. While Beaucoup rarely seems busy enough to raise the pulses of those working behind the counter, Three Sisters is still Manhattan-lunch-hour packed after five years in business, with a line stretching to the door and everyone working like their collective hair is on fire.
Oh, and one other difference? The food at Three Sisters is actually edible. Granted, my roast beef wrap sandwich loaded with lettuce, horseradish and razor-shaved red onion wasn't the best sandwich I've ever had, but it was solidly built and satisfying. And while the house potato-leek soup was far from inspired (it was really hurting for a little bacon and some additional richness), it was certainly better than anything I'd had next door at Beaucoup. The crew cooking at Three Sisters actually seems to have a handle on the basics of the trade.
Three Sisters operates with extended breakfast-bar hours (until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday) and offers an impressive spread of sandwiches, wraps, panini and soups. The decor is nothing special, but the dining room — if you're lucky enough to find a seat during the rush — is both comfortable and alive with the energy of a popular neighborhood lunch stop for the busy office drones.