Battery Park City has long been a culinary wasteland. Thanks to Danny Meyer’s expanding empire and Chef Floyd Cardoz (formerly of Tabla and Winner of Top Chef Masters), those days are over. It began with Shake Shack, then Blue Smoke, and now the pièce de résistance, North End Grill. We had an epic meal there on Saturday night; a 3 hour culinary tour. We were guided by Allen, a most knowledgable server. He helped us pair wines and dessert wines with our meal, describing the wine flavors with an incredible clarity. I could not resist the Gaia with my lobster because of his vision of the Greek surf and the essence of ocean. While we did not have so many questions, the table next to us quizzed him on every menu item, which he effortlessly explained from ingredients and preparation to flavors. This man knows his food!
The interior is huge and so tastefully done. From the photos, I was expecting it to be very masculine, but in person it is clean, modern, open and airy. The walls are done with a black washed wood, which really enhances the vibe of fresh grilled food. The lighting fixtures are not only stunning, but very effective in lighting the food. I am tired of dark restaurants where I cannot see the colors of the food on the plate. Much less get a descent iPhone shot without annoying people with my flash. All of my food pics are as close to perfect as they can be with a phone!
Also impressive is the massive wide-open kitchen. We saw Floyd himself working with his staff as we were escorted to our table. The grills and every workstation are in plain view. To top it off there is a sushi bar-like counter facing directly into the kitchen. No room for yelling or mishandling food in this kitchen.
The bar area is also rather large. There is plenty of room at a long bar and there are communal bar height tables for overflow. There were even tables along the wall. Based on the extensive list of appetizers on the menu, I can see this being a frequent stop for a nosh. The cocktail list is creative , wines by the glass extensive and sometimes expensive – $28 for the French Pinot Noir so I had to go with the Willamette Valley! Steve had a Six Point ‘Crisp’, a pilsner, which came in a crystal glass served at the perfect chill. I had a Bloody Caesar which came with a raw clam skewered on the bottom of my celery. I know where I am going for brunch if and when they serve it!
This is just a little segue here because Brunch = Eggs. We were so in love with the ‘Eggs’ section of the Small Plate Menu. Who doesn’t savor a perfectly cooked egg? More please!
Soft Scrambled Eggs with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and Grilled Bread 12
We had our meal in three courses. We each decided to have two small plates and of course we shared everything. Generally we contrasted lighter dishes and rich dishes. For the first course, Steve had the scallops and I had the bone marrow. The scallops were served with blood orange juice, sushi-style. This was so light, fruity and refreshing, not to mention beautiful. This is a must-have! My bone marrow was served with trout roe on top. The texture of the roe was such a great contrast to the marrow. This dish had veal trotter (feet) on the side. This was a large and rather rich dish. This should be shared. And for the less adventurous eater, skip it.
Nantucket Bay Scallop Cocktail with Ginger and Blood Orange Juice 14
For our next course, Steve had the scrambled egg with hen of the woods mushrooms pictured above. I think it speaks for itself. My course was really interesting. I chose the turnip, fennel and pecorino salad. Truly, I did not know what to expect. I saw lightly shaved turnip, fennel and pecorino. That it was, however, it was roasted and all a deep yellow. On the top were the most gorgeous greens. Again, this dish should be shared. It was not filling, but the portion was quite large.
Shaved Turnips, Fennel and Pecorino with Black Pepper Vinaigrette 12
For the third course I took it over the top with grilled lobster and Steve had the Lamb Loin. There’s nothing better than a grilled lobster, so that one needs no explanation. The lamb was out of this world. It was served on a bed of lightly minted chick pea and lemon concoction. Wow!
Grilled Lobster, not on the online menu $39
Elysian Fields Lamb Loin with Minted Chickpeas and Preserved Lemon 32
And no, it didn’t end there. Amazingly, we were not stuffed to the gills after this meal. We were allowed to savor every course and enjoy our wine. We had plenty of time to digest and move on with more tastings. We opted for after dinner wines and TWO desserts! Allen helped us pair our desserts with after dinner drinks. I had the lemon meringue paired with Pacherenc, which blew my mind. The lemon flavor just explodes. Steve had the Sticky Toffee Pudding with a fortified wine, Banyul. This was another amazing pairing. But I liked mine better
Lemon Meringue Pie with Candied Almonds $8
In conclusion, this was one of the more amazing meals we’ve enjoyed in quite some time. And we eat out every now and then ;). Thank you, thank you, thank you Danny Meyer and Floyd Cardoz. I might even have to thank Goldman Sachs for throwing everyone out of every building they bought and filling it back up with good stuff. Battery Park’s days of Chili’s and Applebee’s are over. Ahhh.
Since our first experience, we’ve always wanted to go back and try the bar area.
We felt if the bar snacks were anywhere near as good as the meal we’d had, we had a great new hang in our neighborhood. All started very well with the Kachumber Kooler – Gin, Cucumber, Cilantro, Green Chilies, Lime $13. Delicious.
Next up, we each ordered a little appetizer.
Black Pepper Shrimp with Lime $12
This was a big ‘meh’. Too much pepper. Overcooked. 4 pcs for $12? Unimpressive.
Halibut Taco with Chipotle Mayo $5
Steve loves a fish taco. How could Floyd Cardoz present such a lame one? Ok, so it was only $5 but we had a better one at Oaxaca Taco outside at the North Cove Marina!
Thrice Fried Spice Fries $8
Understood these look amazing. Nice job with the consistent size and shape, excellent presentation. Dry. Tasting of powdered spices. We didn’t finish them.
The best item we had? Free bar snack, deep fried garbanzo beans. I ate the whole bowl.
So surprise, we weren’t impressed with the bar and for what we ate, we felt robbed when we got the bill. We won’t be running back to hang at North End Grill’s bar. Seems like nobody else is either. We were there on a Saturday evening and there were only a couple of locals at the bar. The restaurant looked fairly busy, but nothing like the launch. Then again, it is July in downtown Manhattan. No doubt we will go for a third trial. More then!
104 North End Avenue – Battery Park City