Friday, November 30, 2012

North End Grill

Wow! It's been a really long time since I've blogged about something in NYC. Between my hiatus and my post about Australia and NZ, I have collected so many things to write about. One of the places that I most anticipated writing about is North End Grill. If you don't know already, I am a very big Danny Meyer fan. I think he is a fantastic restaurateur and we're lucky to have him and his policies in NYC.
Before I start talking about the food, I wanted to let my audience know about my experience with their service. This dinner happened a long time ago, back in May in fact. We had made a reservation in April, far in advance to ensure an optimal dinner time on a busy Saturday night. About 1 week before our dinner, we call to confirm the reservations. Unfortunately, they had gotten the time wrong. Normally, we would suck it up and take the later time. However, we had guests coming in from another state and the later time would mean a very late drive home for them. We didn't want our guests to drive home late and tired. The reservationist said there was nothing they could do. We took the later time and started searching for restaurants in hopes for an earlier dinner.

This is where things surprised me. Upset and frustrated, I took to social media to vent my feelings. Twitter to be exact. I made sure to copy Danny Meyer on that tweet. I slept it off and felt better in the morning. When I checked my phone, I was surprised to see a private message from Mr. Meyer with an apology and telling me to contact the general manager there with name and email. Wow! So we email the GM but of course he's out of the office that week. Oh well, we tried. And we already felt good that it's gone this far. But it doesn't end there! The GM emails us back from his vacation with an apology and tells us that we're all set. Double wow! We were so happy! This was service that was above and beyond our expectations. Honestly, an apology would have sufficed but we also got a reservation at our specified time. That was fantastic. I made sure to thank everyone and tweet about that experience. We were so happy and satisfied and we still didn't have the dinner yet.

Phew! And now onto the food. We decided as a group to share some appetizers but get your own entrees. We started with the Grilled Clam Pizza ($20) which had a thin crispy yet still chewy crust and freshly shucked whole clams. The squeeze of the lemon brightened it up nicely. The flavors were briny, salty, fresh, and garlicky. I wish there were more clam on the pizza pie but it was sufficient.
Next, we had the Nova Scotia Lobster Omelet ($18) which was incredibly buttery, rich, and tender. The eggs were so soft and supple while the lobster was fresh and sweet.  The sauce was sherry based I believe, similar to what you  get on lobster newburg. I'd like to eat this at brunch one day. I'm not sure if they offer it though.
And to lighten things up, we also ordered the Grilled Asparagus and Arugula with Pickled Shallots and Moscatel-Egg Vinaigrette ($14). Sweet tender asparagus spears with a tangy dressing and slightly bitter greens.
For our entrees, two people shared the Char Grilled Elysian Field Leg of Lamb ($56). The meat was so tender and full of that delicious lamb funk. I believe that was a fresh, herbaceous gremolata on top which really paired well with the richness and fattiness of the meat.
Ms. Pastry Chef had the Seared Diver Sea Scallops with Spring Onions, Fava Beans, and Pecan Jus ($32). They looked so beautifully caramelized on the outside but they were certainly tender and juicy on the inside. A nice light alternative entree dish.
Mr. M&P had the Baby Lamb with Purple Potatoes, Chickpeas, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, and Lemon Confit ($34). The meat was ridiculously tender and supple. The hearty garnishes paired well and the lemon lighten the dish just enough to not make it heavy.
I shared a Whole Turbot ($62) with Mr. Sous Chef. The fish was perfectly cooked with the tender meat still juicy which the skin was crisp. The meat was hearty yet delicate. A couple of charred lemon halves added an additional layer of freshness. I'm happy that it was served whole since I wanted to show off my filleting skills to everyone. Hahaha! This fish was enough for 3 to share.
A couple of sides graced the table like the Griddled Ginger Spinach ($8) which were light, fresh, and simple.
And the Thrice Fried Spiced Fries ($8) which were really crispy with just enough flavor to stand out.
We were all pretty full at this point of the dinner but we couldn't say no to any dessert. The Chocolate Mousse with Candied Macadamia Nuts and Black Currant Sorbet ($9) was ordered because we have some chocolate fiends in the family. Smooth yet rich mousse was the star which the sorbet was refreshing and tangy. The nuts were sugary sweet but not in a cloying way.
I insisted on the Grilled Pineapple with Cashew Butter and Frozen Labneh ($8) which was a lighter choice. The pineapple was cooked until its natural sugars caramelized and made it incredibly sweet and tender. The cashew butter lent its nutty richness and the labneh was creamy, smooth, and tangy (from the yogurt base).
As a surprise, North End Grill also gave us the Lemon Meringue Pie with Candied Almonds ($8). This would have been my second choice because I love lemon desserts. I don't love meringue though. But it seemed like people really enjoyed it. The strong lemon flavor was very noticeable. The custard was smooth and slightly dense while the meringue was light and voluminous. The sliced almonds added a nice contrasting texture and nutty flavor.
And for the birthday boy, the restaurant also gave us the Butterscotch Pot de Creme with Chocolate Streusel and "Single Marshmallows" ($9). I wasn't sure if I would like this but I really did. The butterscotch was rich, sweet, and creamy with a dark chocolate streusal on top to balance out the sugar and the marshmallows were soft and delicate. They were obviously made in house.
Overall, I was impressed and very happy with our dinner at North End Grill. Although there were a few missteps in the beginning, they fixed the issue and everyone was satisfied at the end. It's another homage to Danny Meyer and his staff's dedication to exemplary service and food.

North End Grill
104 North End Avenue
New York, NY 10282
(646) 747-1600

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