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City Grit, NYC

May 24, 2012

City Grit is a "culinary salon" in New York City. Terms like "culinary salon" will make some commenters, like SarahinMinneapolis plan for end times, for multicourse meals and a love of finer dining irks some people like Sarah (see comments on my wd~50 blog post). This time however I am going to agree with the thoughts I think Sarah would have: I also find the term a little on the precious side. It just makes me think of snide circles of literary intellectuals snacking on caviar dolloped crudités. But that's not what City Grit is at all. Alas City Grit is neither snide nor high-fallutin'. It is cool and timely. It was started by Sarah Simmons and Jeremie Kittredge. Sarah is the culinary force, and Jeremie is the business head. They are a great team. Located in a beautiful old building at 38 Prince in Nolita, the dining space can seat up to 85 hosting a variety of events from private functions to chef pop-up dinners. I went on an evening last week to eat the food of a young chef of Portuguese descent named Dave Santos. Dave has a pedigreed resume, having worked at Per Se and Hotel Griffou. He obviously has honed some chops at those outposts because the kid is cooking up some very good food. To pull off a dinner in a foreign kitchen that would make Per Se look like a church day school (the building was a church day school...) is something special. This was our meal at City Grit prepared by Chef Santos: 1. Coriander Cured Branzino, Piri Piri oil, pickled banana puree 2. Cod Brandade fritters with cod, shrimp, smoked paprika 3. Warm Potato salad with lamb tongue, favas, peas, and garlic emulsion 4. Duck Rice, Duck two ways, Spring rice, duck tea (shown at the beginning of the post) 5. Coffee Flan with citrus cookies It was a great meal by a young chef trying hard to make it in a hard industry. His relentless spirit showed through in the food. It was all solid, but the potato salad was really special, and the duck was killer as well. A little more time in the pan on the skin side would have put it over the top. The idea of pop-up space for the restaurant industry parallels one of the positive attributes of food trucks: to provide a space for young chefs and entrepreneurs to iron out ideas, show off their menus, and mature in the industry. It is a great step towards brick and mortar, or even towards a simple but awesome food truck, of which there are many in the land (my favorite fish n chips in the USA comes from a food truck in Austin called Bits and Druthers). I would much rather people take risks in a low-budget enterprise than risk the whole hog on a more expensive endeavor with a long-term lease. On nights when there is no visiting chef, the founder and chef?in-residence, Sarah Simmons,...


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