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Okay, so we checked out The Grill...

sgordon | Jun 7, 201704:06 PM     3

Surprised no other CHers have weighed in on This Year's Big Fancy yet, guess I'm the first.

Now, take this all with the caveat that we've been a grand total of once.

Overall? Good. Very good, for the most part.

We started out with a couple cocktails at the bar. The list is mostly old classics, fitting the theme. The GF got one of the better champagne cocktails I've had, dry and crisp with a nice bitter edge from the grapefruit. I went with a Mamie Taylor (ginger beer, lime, scotch) that was nice and scotchy. Didn't catch what kind they used.

It's a beautiful room, though I admit a little paranoia while sitting at the bar that all those spikes hanging from the ceiling could come crashing down through our collected heads at any moment. Just don't look up, it's a little dizzying.

On to our table... they're nice and spacious, so you never feel like you're right on top of your neighbors. All the tables appeared to be four-tops, minimum, so even if you're a deuce like us you get a whole four-top to yourself.

Service was good, and the somm was great. I was looking for a something a little funky, which they didn't really have, though she noted that when The Pool opens with the seafood focus, the wine list there will likely have the on-trend orange wines and such that would go better with that fare. As it is, lots of French reds at The Grill. Fits the style. I was in the mood for a white, though, and she steered me to a nice one in the $70s that, if not funky, had a good bit of depth. (Surprisingly, flipping through the list I'm pretty sure I noticed a few in the $40s.)

For starters we went with the Goose Terrine, Crab Cake, and Sardines. The terrine was great, meaty, nice sweet/salty balance with figs and green olives hiding in there. Not life-changing but highly recommended. Sardines were nice but not terribly memorable. The crab cake was tasty enough but... kinda petite. As a $36 appetizer... yeah, I assume they're using fresh crab, and it's a pain to harvest the meat but... it wouldn't make my re-order list. At that price for an app you expect a luxury dish, and this - while a good crab cake, all killer no filler - just didn't rise to that level. It's not a dud, it's just not worth $36 in my estimation. Were it a little larger, or even were there one other element to it - like, were it topped with a blob of caviar - not even the uber-fancy stuff, just hackleback or whatever - we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

Killer bread basket, too. That's something I find the MFG group always does ridiculously well, though.

For entrees, we went a little nutty with the splurge. Prime Rib & Dover Sole with "Neptune's Crown"

I, personally, am not one to ever order Dover Sole. To me, it's not that much better (or better at all) than any number of other fish that cost half as much. I'd much rather a piece of halibut. Or, frankly, given the price difference, regular sole. I suppose for all of us, there are some luxury items we "get" and others we don't. To some people, a '77 Taylor-Fladgate Vintage Port is no different than a slug o' Night Train. For some, a sports jacket from Old Navy serves the same purpose as a Black Label Armani, so no difference. For me, one blind spot is and will remain Dover Sole.

But that caveat aside, it was a fine piece of fish. The "crown" (a seafood ragu) was really good, had a nice little tingle of heat to it - kind of a spicy Old Bay-ish vibe.

The Prime Rib - simple and effective. Classic. Pungent horseradish. Peppery crust. Nice slab o' beautifully cooked rare beef there. And if you're balking at the $62 price, keep in mind it basically comes with a Mighty Quinn's Brontosaurus Rib as a side dish. (That's the "Deviled Rib")

As an actual side dish, we got an order of the potato dumplings. DAMN, THOSE DUMPLINGS. Pillowy, drenched in chive butter. Perfect. And arguably the one savory dish we ate that, given time and good sourcing, I couldn't make at home. I'm a solid cook, but my dumpling kung fu has always been a little lacking. (I'm not gonna make a prime rib at home either, because it takes forever and I'm not feeding a small army, but theoretically I could...)

That's what I want to sit at the bar and eat, just a big bowl of dumplings poured over a Deviled Bone with a mug of beer or a tart red. Unfortunately I don't think you can order either at the bar.

I was pretty dang stuffed at this point (tiny crabcake aside, the mains more than made up for it) but the gf who is blessed with a cheetah's metabolism was ready for dessert so we ordered a couple to pick at while finishing the wine. The Grasshopper Charlotte was one-note, perhaps, but it's a good note and was blissfully light. Nice little crunchy bits hiding inside the mousse to add some textural contrast. The raspberry tart with pistachio had a little more going on. Simple but delicious. Hard for me to judge the desserts fairly since I was so full I was almost forcing them.

Overall, really good. Do I like a little more creativity when dining out? Sure, food-wise I find Santina and Dirty French more interesting, as their higher-end places go, but it's not like I dislike Carbone, and The Grill is very much in the same vein. But that said, we also ordered some of the most "old-school" dishes at a place that's doing 1958 retro, so it's a bit early to judge. I'll happily go back to try the venison, duck, and some of the other fish dishes, and there might be more creative flourishes to be found there. It's good middle ground - sure, if I was seeing a film at MoMA and had some money to blow on dinner would I, instinctively, lean toward the Modern or Aquavit first? Yeah, probably. But if I was with someone who didn't want cucumber gelee over raw langoustines or whatever? The Grill would be right up there and I wouldn't be complaining one bit. There's something nice about a place that isn't trying to re-invent the wheel but just do the classics really well now and then.

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