Penelope Perfection

I have three good reasons to try Penelope this weekend, and they all start with chicken: club, meatballs, and potpie.

I fell in love with this Murray Hill jewel the moment I walked in after a coworker recommended the spot for months. Penelope’s vibe is irresistible, especially for a Southerner. From the trademark striped canopy to the homey aprons to the adorable bakery, everything about the place is charming. The staff is friendly and casual, the decor is as comforting as a beach house, and the food is so good you could tell someone twice about it on accident.

As both a creature of habit and a childlike eater, I consistently order the three-grilled cheese with fries. This combo’s simple, tasty and filling with a house white wine or coffee after. This weekend though, I went out on a limb and tried something new after encouraging my sister and boyfriend to try things I’ve heard raved about. We were blown away.

I ordered the chicken club sandwich, which was more than enough portion-wise. The white meat chicken was moist and cooked to perfection with just the right condiments. The distinct, homemade French fries were delicious as always, and I took the second half of my sandwich home for later.

My boyfriend chose the chicken meatball sandwich, which every male I’ve eaten here with orders. I tried it for the first time and adored the combination of flavors. The meatballs were soft and rich in flavor, and the pesto sauce added a superb touch. The combination was divine enough to finish a whole sandwich myself.

I saved the best for last. My sister ordered Penelope’s widely acclaimed homemade chicken potpie after seeing one at the table next to us. This dish beats all the chicken potpies I’ve tried in the city, including a taste test of 16 store-bought varieties. The bowl is a large, generous portion covered with a thin layer of slightly sweet bread. The vegetables inside were fresh, soft and warm, and in a nice proportion with the chicken. The meat was fresh, cut into appropriately small pieces, and saturated in a thick, hearty broth.Altogether this dish was amazing, pleasing to the whole table.

I have to admit my favorite aspect of Penelope is its drink descriptions, which are articulate and witty, but the whole experience is a must-try. I highly recommend the spinach artichoke dip if you choose a starter or a local beer if you’re drinking. It’s the kind of place tourists buy a mug or t-shirt to commemorate their visit, and those are available at the front.

Location: 30th and Lexington

Subways: 4/5/6 to 33rd St

Price: About $10 a meal

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