When T asked if I wanted to catch one of the two “Tour of the Five Boroughs” dinners City Grit was putting on, it was a quick yes from me. I knew after my first experience for their PDX Comes to NYC dinner that I wanted to come back – it was just a question of when. Last night’s dinner was the second of two dinners to benefit the Tunnel to Towers Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund to help fund the rebuilding of Staten Island (with 50% of profits for both nights going to the cause). Sarah Simmons explained that the menu had been used previously during the year, but that she thought it was appropriate to use again as they were just reoccupying the kitchen post-storm and because it highlighted the various elements of the city.
Our starter represented the Bronx and was a spicy sausage fondue served with pretzel roll crostini. When I saw pretzel roll crostini, I knew I was going to love this one. I’m a sucker for pretzel bread and this variation was a great start to the meal. It was a play on the various elements so prominent at baseball games – melted cheese (as in nachos), sausage, pretzels (slight variation from the big, soft form), and beer. The fondue was just a touch spicy. Having just come in from the chilly outside air, it was a nice way to settle into the meal.
Next, we had a spicy curry soup with soba noodles, representing Queens. It was topped with a kale salad and pickled vegetables. The curry soup was more of a nod to a recipe Sarah mentioned she’d learned to make in Africa, but the noodles were a nice nod to areas such as Flushing and to the diversity that one thinks of when thinking of Queens.
Then we were treated to a family style course – pesto lasagna with a shaved fennel salad, representing Staten Island. I’d never had a pesto lasagna - but really enjoyed this version. It was on the lighter side for a lasagna (a compliement) with a very rich pesto flavor. The pasta was nicely balanced by the shaved fennel salad, which was very fresh and also light.
For our main course, we had Brooklyn Brewery chocolate stout short ribs with parmesean cream grits and braised collards. This dish was neither subtle or lacking in depth of flavors. The short ribs had a very smoky taste and the chocolate stout flavor was very prominent. The meat itself was fall of the bone tender and was flavorful throughout each bite. The grits were very different from any kind I have had before. I’m still doing a bit of research to try to figure out if it was perhaps a different type as it was slightly granier than any other grits I’ve ever had. They were definitely creamy and were a perfect contrast to the strong, bitter braised collards (so good).
Dessert was representative of Manhattan and was appropriately a complex assortment of fancy elements. It was a brown butter financier accompanied by a mango curd and streusel. There was also a thin chocolate bridge, representing the Brooklyn Bridge, topped by a truffle. I liked the presentation on the plate. The chocolate bridge was really a nice note to end on visually, and I liked being able to mix and match the various elements on the plate to try out the various flavor combinations. And the mango curd? I could eat this every day.
It was another perfect night tucked into the cozy 70-seat dining room in an old school house in Nolita. Can’t wait to see what else passes through the doors and into this space in the comming months.
City Grit – 38 Prince Street
Reservations Required - see website for future events