I don’t smoke. Or at least I don’t anymore. As a matter of fact, I’m the guy that does a disgusted fast walk when someone is in front of me on the street with a butt in their hand. How dare you pollute my personal ozone of hot garbage smells and bus fumes with your mouth smog? Do you even work out?
That said, there are two things in this world that make me desperately want to smoke a cigarette again: hanging out in Paris, and having dinner at The Grill.
If you happen to be new to the food internet, have better things to do than keep up with daily restaurant news, or were born after 1983, there is some important backstory that you need to know before you read this review. Before The Grill was The Grill, it was a legendary restaurant called the Four Seasons. The Four Seasons opened in 1959 and became famous for many things over the years, such as pioneering the concept of “New American” cuisine, popularizing the idea of seasonal cooking, and being an exemplar of New York extravagance. But the Four Seasons was probably most famous for its powerful clientele. It was a place where heads of state, moguls, icons, and tycoons all came to be seen, cut deals, and maybe even eat some food.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, except for The Simpsons, and the Four Seasons closed in July of 2016 amidst a dispute with the owner of the building. To be honest, by that point, the restaurant was probably past its prime. But it certainly marked the end of an era.
Now a new era begins, in which the Four Seasons has been brought back to life by Major Food Group, the owners of Carbone and Sadelle’s and other meticulously-crafted experiences masquerading as restaurants. They’ve taken over the entire space, splitting the famous dining rooms into two separate restaurants, and naming them after the colloquial terminology used back in the day to distinguish the two - The Grill (room) and The Pool (room). And they haven’t changed all that much aesthetically, because they can’t. Many elements of the classic Modernist interior are landmarked by the city. Even the curtains.
So, instead, it seems that Major Food Group decided to “Oceans 11” this bitch, which is to say they took the plot of something classic, tweaked the script a little, brought in some new actors, and spent an incredible amount of money on production. The end result is something that’s familiar if you’ve seen the original, but also different. Something that is great in its own right. Something that makes me want to smoke.
Why does The Grill make me want to return to that old bad habit of my youth? Part of it definitely comes from the fact that every element of this place has been designed to transport you back to a time before we had “good science” or a real understanding of “heart disease.” But really, it’s because every meal I have had here has ended with me feeling like some sort of legend from the past. Like a modern day Sammy Davis Jr. in a world full of Don Cheadles. The food is excellent, the service is perfect, and the entire experience is curated from the moment they open the door for you to the moment you leave. The prices? They are ridiculous. But that’s not the point.
The point is that The Grill is a place that gives me that feeling of doing something pleasurable but irresponsible. And I think that’s something we could all use from time to time. Lord knows we are living in a new era. You’re probably gonna need a smoke.
An excellent, light way to start a meal that will certainly be mostly ridiculous excess from here forward.
The Seagram Crab Cake
This is The Grill’s crab cake, which looks not at all like a crab cake and actually has no bread crumbs in it. Or anything else really. It’s just crab meat topped with a thin layer of potato, and it’s amazing.
Avocado Crab Louie
How do you take the classic King of Salads and update it for current day tastes? Put in some avocado. It works.
Pasta A La Presse
Ever seen a duck presse? It’s this fcked up contraption the French invented a few centuries ago to slowly crush the every last molecule of a bird down to the point at which you are actually consuming its soul. Here The Grill uses one to make juice out of some guinea fowl and aromatics and toss it in fresh pasta. Turns out the life force of poultry tastes great over noodles.
Scottish Salmon in Chartreuse Sauce
More on this shortly, but in our experience, the best things at The Grill actually tend to be the things that aren’t steak. This salmon is certainly a good example.
The best thing on the menu. The meat is sweet and tender, served with ginger and pineapple and a side of Don Ho.
They will tell you that The Grill is a steakhouse, and it is. They have amazing cuts of beef, and you can even choose one directly from the waiter’s hand. We enjoyed the NY Strip we had, and you will too. But we just liked the other things on this menu more, and would suggest you spend your time there as well.
A huge, four-inch thick slab of meat, served with the bone on the side. If we’re eating prime rib, we’re doing it at 4 Charles Prime Rib. You should too.
Honey Mustard Duckling
A duck breast cut into medium rare slices like a piece of steak. It’s better than the steaks.
Only on the lunch menu, and good but not great. Even though the bun, tomato, and onion makes this resemble an everything bagel, it’s an otherwise a simple burger built to showcase quality of the meat. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you like ’em.
A mint chocolate chip mousse that looks like modern art. Also a must order.