North End Grill
Before I even begin to write about North End Grill I want to come clean….I am a huge fan of Danny Meyer. He is not only a brilliant business man he is a nice guy, great father and wonderful husband. We met Danny for the first time about 15 years ago.
As someone who has always been into food, restaurants and alike, my dream was to be able to know everyone in the food business of NYC. I would meet chefs and be tongue tied. Fred was at a lunch with Lester Wunderman many years ago at Gramercy Tavern. He ate their often and Danny came by their table to say hi. Lester introduced Danny to Fred. Fred came home and said that he had met Danny Meyer at lunch and he gave him his card to call him anytime he needed anything in one of restaurants. I said to call tomorrow and make a lunch date. Fred said he didn't have any plans. I said make plans or he will never remember you. Fred did and the rest is history. Our lives have intersected at many levels. One of our first philanthropic donations was to Madison Square Park. Our daughter was best friends with his niece at our school, which we had no idea was connected to him, and I happened to sit on the board of his brother-in-laws company. His other brother and wife have a house down the street from us in Amagansett. So, perhaps it was just meant to be.
Danny has a formula in the way he runs his restaurants and the way he manages his people and many people could learn from it. Reading his book is absolutely worthwhile for any entrepreneur. He is also one of the few people in NYC who could open a restaurant west of the highway off of Wall Street and have every seat in the house filled when office hours are closed. That takes time, energy and a track record of success. Danny has quite an empire in that area including Shake Shack and Blue Smoke. BTW, we went over to Shake Shack after dinner to watch the end of the Knicks game. Loving Lin.
North End Grill has multiple places to sit. There is a large bar when you walk in and seats for people who happen to just stop by. There is separation between that particular area and the main dining room. On the way there is the kitchen and wine area similar to Maiolino but much bigger. The design is modern yet simple. I really like what they did with the ceiling (photo above). There is plenty of light and the acoustics are great. Perfect for the more seasoned crowd as myself vs the young hip 20 year old wandering around town.
Floyd is a super nice guy and a great chef. He has put together an interesting menu completely different than his Indian roots where he led the kitchen at Tabla. They just opened for dinner and are no doubt working out the kinks. Some of the dishes were amazing and others were just ok but my guess is that over time they will all be pretty impressive.
There are a few options on the menu. Appetizers, egg section, salads, entrees, entrees for 2 and sides. We split everything on the front end and each had our own main course. They brought all the appetizers out at once so we could do a little tasting together. It was like doing Chinese style. I love that.
Raw fluke topped chopped bacon, apples and lime. I like the creativity of this dish. The apples and bacon give the dish crunch with a bit of the savory and tart mixed together with the simplicity of the fluke. Nice and light.
The tuna dish goes under the egg section of the menu. Chopped tuna tartare with a fried quail egg and crispy shallots. Here is where timing of the kitchen comes into play. Perfect dish, lots of flavors yet light and complex. The egg was overcooked so you couldn't let the delicious yolk ooze into the tuna to make the dish messy. That will happen as the kitchen gets more seasoned.
As I said, I am a fan of Danny (and Floyd). I am excited about a new place to go. The presentation of every dish was just perfect. I'd like to go back during the week. Saturday nights are tough and they just opened for dinner. The menu is really nice and there are a lot of creative dishes on it. I am looking forward to my "round two" at North End Grill.