Get your pulse racing with grand burgers, treats and heart-pumping beats
The Italian Job
My first experience with Grand Restaurant and Lounge was nearly two years ago. It was a Friday night, and my date and I had a relatively late reservation, still within the restaurant’s dinner hour but knocking on New York City dining times. Halfway through our mac and cheese (which I loved), the environment changed, and our bodies started thumping. The deejay had arrived and was blasting house music throughout the space. What we’d walked into at 9:30 p.m., a cool restaurant/bar, had morphed into a club, and the patrons who were there when we arrived—men in button-downs and Rag and Bone jeans, and women in frilly dresses with unassuming heels—were quickly replaced by scantily clad twenty-somethings break dancing in the middle of the dance floor. We decided to join the party.
Since then the club remains, but the menu has been totally revamped. Chef Nick Bilello, of Norwalk Burger Bar and Bistro, partnered with Grand to change things up. The result is a Grand Burger menu that features burgers and “not-burgers,” plus a handful of other entrées. Many of the burgers are made with grass-fed beef, but if you’re not a beef eater, you can opt for fish, turkey or veggie versions. Watching your carbs? Order any burger in a lettuce wrap.
During a recent dinner, we began with a basket of homemade potato chips served with a sour cream dill dip. These babies are addictive, perfectly crisp with a spicy mix of seasonings, cooled by a dip that balanced the flavors. I almost ate so many that dinner would have been a wash. Struggling to pull myself away, I tried two bacon-enhanced appetizers, the Oyster Benny with truffle hollandaise sauce, and the deviled eggs with chives. In the interest of full disclosure, I have never met a part of the pig I didn’t enjoy, so anything with bacon makes me happy, plus I’ve always loved deviled eggs. Both of these appetizers did not disappoint. They were simply prepared, allowing the ingredients to shine.
Of the beef burgers, my favorites were the Grand Burger—prepared with Roaring Forties blue cheese, caramelized onions and fig balsamic—and the aptly named Forest Burger, topped with woodland mushrooms, whipped goat cheese and truffle honey. Here, the woodsy flavors of the mushrooms contrasted nicely with the sweet honey and sharp cheese. I had both of these with a nostalgic side order of tater tots, and just as I remembered them, they were crispy on the
outside and slightly soft on the inside.
In the land of “not-burgers,” I loved the mussels and fries. These were perfectly cooked and served in a Chardonnay broth of garlic, herbs, tomatoes and jalapeños that added a touch of heat but did not overwhelm the dish. I wanted to love a BLT salad that followed, but the iceberg lettuce with slow-roasted tomatoes, bacon, fresh herbs and buttermilk ranch dressing was not quite right—the iceberg was room temperature and the dressing was a tad thin and lacked punch.
We also tried the chicken and “waffles.” Being from the South, I expected fried chicken and real waffles with sweet syrup on the side, a heavenly combination of sweet and salty. Here, the chef steered away from convention to serve the fried chicken with waffle fries. These were perfectly executed, but word to the wise for those expecting something traditional.
For dessert I had the banana-bread- pudding french toast. Loved it! A dinner companion who happens to be a chocolate lover tried the ice-box cake, made with graham crackers and chocolate ganache. He wiped that plate clean. Next time I go back, I plan to try a specialty milk shake, which can be served virgin or with a touch of booze.
This is an interesting direction for Grand, where you will find a tasty meal and leave completely sated. Just remember, for a fun night out, make a late reservation on the weekend for an evening of great food and dancing. However, if you’re hoping for a relaxed, grown-up experience, get there earlier. Whenever you do go, be prepared to share. You’ll want to try your date’s burger too.
15 Bank Street
Tues.–Sun., 5–10 p.m.