Healthy lunches in NYC

TONY checks out five health-conscious lunch joints to see which of them are worth their salt.

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286 Madison Ave at 40th St (212-810-4592,
The shtick: The first location of what founders Adam Kidron and Michael Shuman hope will be the future of fast food sits forebodingly across the street from a McDonald's—and aims to be everything the franchising goliath isn't. Here, iPads are bolted to the tables for ordering and burgers are shaped like doughnuts, with the middles hollowed out, skewered and sold separately to carbophobes. There are no fryers, no microwaves and no artificial ingredients. And because everything is customizable: buns (brioche, pressed rice), patties (pork, salmon, turkey, veg), condiments (cranberry sauce, hummus), toppings (kimchi, sopressata) and more—your lunch can be as light or as calorific as you design it to be.
What we ate: To keep the line moving, we decided to try two of the customer-created burgers "trending" on the Buildboard Chart (visit the website to submit your own). The MGR Lamb ($6.90) comprised a slightly pink ring of lamb bundled with spinach and pine nuts, roasted shiitake mushroom, nutty fontina and sweet Vidalia onion. The Dark Knight ($7.50) offered a potato-and-chorizo-hash-filled beef patty teetering within a pumpernickel bun. Both burgers were bold and assertive, but may have suffered at the hands of their more-is-more inventors: The Dark Knight would've tasted just as good without toppings like pancetta and mayo, and would've been 95 calories healthier, too.
The verdict: Kidron and Shuman are definitely onto something: The mind-boggling number of unusual ingredients demands experimentation. If you're serious about losing weight, you can also keep tabs on your diet by eyeballing the receipt, which outlines the calories, fat, carbs and protein in every last ingredient.