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Lunch at HBO's Star Cafeteria

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I've been obsessed with the HBO building, which stands across the street from the F&W offices, for a while now, partly because I used to see Sarah Jessica Parker hanging around outside (or, more accurately, getting into and out of taxis). My obsession is only more intense now that I've discovered their cafeteria, the unfortunately named tHe BistrO. It's a huge space with lots of tables and big windows that look out on what could be very high-rent views of Bryant Park. Plus the food is very decent and there are lots of options: a vast salad bar, a grill, a sweet little sandwich counter. Even better, it's very cheap, because it's subsidized (and so, unfortunately, not open to the public). There are $5 lunch specials—a juicy turkey burger, fruit, french fries and a giant soda—and blogs have reported on by-the-pound items that are as cheap as 30 cents (!) an ounce. (Perusing the yogurt selection, my friend decided she was going to start doing her grocery shopping at tHe BistrO.) Friday is sushi day, and so a Restaurant Associates guy named Ronald patiently makes sushi to order, like the HBO Roll—a mix of eel, spicy crab, sprouts, scallions, avocado and cucumber. This, of course, isn't fish that's been flown in from Tokyo—when they say crab, they mean crab stick, and the tuna in their Spicy Tuna Roll is mushy beyond belief. But the rice is well cooked and well seasoned, and it's a lot better than some of the prepackaged sushi they sell in this neighborhood.

Another big plus is the conversations you overhear while waiting for your sushi. Since this is HBO, a major reason for the argument that TV is better than the movies, when an important-looking person says they're glad Duplicity is getting good notices because Julia Roberts really needed this film, it seems more significant than when the guy at Hale & Hearty soups says it. But perhaps the thing I'm most envious of at tHe BistrO is the big popcorn popper at checkout—it makes me think that HBO employees get to eat buttered popcorn and watch Flight of the Conchords all day at the office, and what could be better than that?

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.