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The Grocery: Review

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The Grocery: Review

Jay Weedon | Feb 4, 2004 06:07 PM

OK, I know I'm not exactly the first to do this, but since it's such a hot item these days there could be someone interested in another (amateur) review effort. And since I'm often frustrated by people here who discuss places whose locations I don't know, I'll mention that The Grocery is at 288 Smith St. Brooklyn, near Union St.

Dropped in Tuesday evening. Well, it wasn't exactly a drop-in, I reserved a table weeks ahead for a friend's birthday. The place is almost completely physically nondescript, both inside and out (you'd hardly even guess there was a restaurant there from the outside). As you might expect, the somewhat cramped space was packed even on a Tuesday, and the closeness of the tables to one another, combined with the bare walls & ceilings, made it mildly unpleasantly noisy for me.

Service was *very* nice. Prompt, friendly, attentive. Sharon herself made an appearance, and seemed very down to earth & genial. No pretension there at all.

Appetizers were somewhat slow coming, but a couple of apologies were forthcoming while we waited, so we didn't feel forgotten at all. Meanwhile, the bread was luscious - chewy, moist, flavorful.

We ordered the house's signature roast beet with goat-cheese, and a mushroom tart. Both were lovely. Tart pastry was fabulous & 'shroom flavors were rich. The beets combo is just a great idea, well executed. We were brought samples of the squash soup, which was decent but not outstanding. Nice gesture though.

Grenache seemed strongly represented on the wine list: not a variety I'm particularly familiar with, but we ordered the Australian Yalumba. It was certainly pleasant, but I can't say great value for $37 (it was one of the cheapest wines on the menu - perhaps we should have gone for something fancier, but I'm not used to paying $50-60 for a bottle of wine, call me cheap).

The main courses were the pork medallions and the duck breast. The former was spectacular - full of all kinds of well-melded flavors. I'm a big duck fan, and it was good, but really no better than one would expect to get at most "good" restaurants.

We're not really dessert eaters so opted out of that, though had my companion ordered one I would definitely have wanted to keep her company with a glass of the Muscat.

The bill was $112 + tip, which is (relative to middle class New York) by no means expensive for a birthday dinner. If I go again (and I may) I'll want to tell them when I make the reservation that I want the "tasting menu" - a 5-course prix-fixe affair, which if I remember correctly is priced at about $45.

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