My first taste was of a drink recommended to me by our waiter. The Bail Watermelon "Water" ($4) . It arrives looking similar in color to a strawberry margarita, but tastes actually like a Bail Watermelon "Water" . It was nicely refreshing and not too sweet.
For lunch, it was a difficult decision between the Bianco flat bread ($7.50) or one of the "create your own" panini ($10.50). The Hawaiian flat bread and Barbecue Chicken flat bread (both $8), also both on the menu really do not fit the modernness of the restaurant, but will most likely appeal to some diners. I am usually not a fan of the "create your own" on a menu, but this one is pretty nice, offering a small range of fresh breads, meat or vegetable, cheeses and condiments. There is also a nice little 4 step process to walk you through the decision, 1. bread, 2 Meat or Veg, 3.Cheese, 4. Addition (tomato, etc) 5. Condiment. I chose a Mediterranean style panini with grilled vegetables, mozzarella tomato and a grain mustard. It arrived in a white paper wrap (very bistro-like) accompanied by a small porcelain, individual-sized, dutch oven style pot of cold pickled vegetables (french green beans, thin slices of carrot, a floret of cauliflower,etc.). It was a very inventive and refreshing alternative to the usual boring green house salad. All of the vegetables were crunchy and flavorful. The panini is also served with a generous bowl of a crunchy fresh slaw (a light and crisp- although a little heavy on the dressing- alternative to what may be offered at the local deli counter) and thin crispy ( and very tasty) shoestring parsley fries. You can also substitute either side for fresh fruit- but not recommended as you will just get the standard fresh fruit. My dining companion ordered her own panini -more Southern style- with pulled grilled chicken, BBQ sauce, blue cheese, and caramelized onions.
The menu can appeal, as a simple meal, to a wide clientele, while not being overpriced (definitely not like your usual hotel restaurant prices). In fact, the only thing really going against 1808 is the fact that it is hidden inside a hotel where most locals are usually afraid to go - knowing that hotel restaurants are usually priced for the overly tired tourists that stay there. Realizing that the locals are the long-term repeat supporters, it deserves to join the ranks of the other heavily patronized bars and restaurants in midtown. So don't be afraid to cross West End Ave and pull open that front door to 1808 ( you don't even have to enter the hotel) or hec...don't touch a thing, just prance in, right through the automatic double door into hotel the lobby. 1808 is worth a trip.