We recently stumbled upon North End Grill – Danny Meyer’s Battery Park City debut that opened earlier this year – while downtown and in search of an excellent meal. Sure, there were plenty of safe and delicious bets in nearby TriBeCa or the Financial District, but we wanted to try something new.
We had no reservations, and walked into the restaurant on a Thursday night around 8 PM. The maitre’d was welcoming with a beaming smile. Walk-in? No problem, she said! We were seated almost immediately, despite a packed dining room and bar.
The restaurant attracts nearby power brokers and businessmen and their guests – several large business deals appeared to be underway around us. Not surprising since Goldman Sachs is around the corner. The packed dining room was noisy and energetic, yet full of peace of mind. Maybe it was the large glass windows that lined the dining room, or the impressive light fixtures distributed throughout the room, but I felt right where I wanted to be.
And then, the food. When it was time to browse the menu, we quickly opted for the tasting menu ($85, six courses, with a $40 wine pairing). Dinner was now out of our hands. Executive Chef Floyd Cardoz had impressed us once before at New Indian eatery Tabla. We bet on him to do it again.
Arriving first, an amuse of Razor Clams, Apples, and Finger Lime. The combination of the slightly briny, yet sweet dish impressed us – if only for the five seconds it took to devour our first (and only) bite. There were more apples than razor clams, but somehow the ratio of flavors held perfect.
Soon enough, our second course was on its way. In the meantime, we enjoyed what seemed like an endless flow of warm, multigrain bread to the table. When it finally arrived, our Abalone Sashimi with Asian Pear, Heart of Palm and Candied Ginger was good, not great. But where the abalone was overly chewy, the complex flavor of heart of palm and ginger, made up for it. Not bad, either.
Next, and by far the best course of the evening, was the Charcoal Grilled Nova Scotia Lobster with Tarragon Butter. The lobster was grilled perfectly, with an accent of tarragon, far from overpowering. At it’s core, the lobster was far from overcooked or dry – rather moist and flavorful. We could’ve placed several more orders of this dish and walked away happy.
Soon enough, reality dawned on us: we had ate (and thoroughly enjoyed) our lobster, and it was time to move on to our next course. Our Halibut with Cauliflower and Cider Jus was equally as tantalizingly flavorful as our lobster. The halibut – moist and slightly spiced – was complimented by precisely-grilled cauliflower with the flavorful aroma of cider. An ode to the autumn season.
The recent buzz and consensus around our second-to-last course, Grass-fed Beef with Confit Potatoes, Roasted Poblanos and Sauce Bearnaise, was that it was “just okay” and “slightly chewy.” Now we were the judges. Our steak arrived – flooded in a pool of Bearnaise sauce – clearly not the standard beef tenderloin we had been expecting. Would Chef Cardoz wow us with his cut of beef? It was time to find out. We had a hard time cutting into the first piece – it was not the best cut. Biting into it, we immediately had mixed emotions. Sure, it was pretty damn awesome in that perfect composure of Bearnaise, but wow, was it chewy. The pundits were right.
After our initial bite, our worries subsided as subsequent bites were juicier and welcoming. To top it off, roasted poblanos added to the slight smokiness – and already flavorful appeal – of the dish. It was now time for our sixth and final course – dessert.
That night, Pastry Chef Alexandra Ray offered up a Goat Cheese Mousse with Blackberries. Smooth and velvety, sweet and flavorful, it was a perfect ending to our evening. It was as such a mousse should be – sweetness reflected by accents of goat cheese and berries. And we enjoyed every bite.
And so our debut meal at Danny Meyer’s North End Grill had come to a close. Marked by several pleasant surprises, a steadily-flavorful and pleasing flow of courses, and one near-disappointment. Even where Meyer falls short, the restaurant’s lovely hospitality and modern, refined decor more than make up for it.
Livin Large Recommends
4.5/5 Stars (Excellent)
North End Grill
104 North End Ave.
(at Vesey St.)
New York, NY 10282