The Grocery on Smith in Cobble Hill -- Wonderful Dinner
- George Lynch
Four of us had dinner last Wednesday at The Grocery on Smith. We were going to the NY Phil concert at Prospect Park afterward and decided on an early dinner at The Grocery. What a fortunate choice!
The space inside is very tight, but about half the tables were unoccupied, maybe because a lot of people chose to sit in the backyard. We took a look at the backyard and thought about it, but decided to stay indoors to avoid the flying insects.
The staff could not have been more eager to please. I asked about a couple of the beers on the menu, questions that the waitress couldn't answer, so she got the owner, who came over and discussed the beers in detail. I decided on a Samuel Smith lager, while everyone else had wine by the glass.
We all had apps followed by main courses. For my starter, I ordered the homemade sausages, filled with pork, herbs and spices. In addition to the two sausages, on the plate were a portion of black beans, a small frisee salad and an apricot chutney. Knocked me out!
My wife had the Manila clams, served steamed in white wine, garlic and onions. Sprinkled throughout the dish were toasted croutons, to help soak up the wonderful sauce. As the waitress served her, she said something like: "Geez, that doesn't look like enough. Let me get you some more." And she came back with another dish of clams, which all four of us quickly put away.
One of our companions had the "teenage greens" salad and his wife had the spring rolls for their appetizers. The salad was OK, nothing special, but very fresh and just what he wanted. The spring rolls (2 of them) were cut in half and accompanied by an orange dipping sauce and a serving of sprouts. The rolls were filled with duck meat, among other things, and were delicious.
My wife had the broiled Arctic char for her main course and I had the skirt steak. Our companions had the sauteed trout and the skirt steak. We all oohed and aahed over the wonderful tastes of our dishes. The steaks were sliced in the kitchen and quite tender.
Because we needed to get to the concert we skipped dessert, but we did have coffee. The waitress bought us a small dish of assorted fruit to go with our coffee at no charge.
I would say the only downside to our meal was that the air conditioning did not adequately cool the room. They open at 6:00 PM, which is when we arrived, so they may have turned on the air conditioning only as we walked in, but it was a tad too warm in the room for me throughout the meal.
But on balance, we were completely bowled over by both the excellence and the friendliness of this place. Let me highly recommend The Grocery on Smith Street to all chowhounds.
Unfortunately (for your question but not for me), my friend grabbed the check and went to some pains to hide the total from me. It's his thing, so I didn't bother to ask.
However, my wife and I returned this past Monday (just the two of us), and we had another wonderful experience. We shared the spring rolls for a starter, and Maureen had the trout for her main course (with asparagus and spaetzle), while I had the breast of duck (with greens and polenta). Maureen had two glasses of wine and I had three (or maybe four) Geary's (a beer from Maine). The tab for all that came to a little over $80 before tip.
Full disclosure: Charlie, the owner, recognized us from our previous visit and quickly deduced that I was the author of the very positive Chowhound comments, so we were not dining as anonymous drop-ins.
Thing is, even upon being recognized, the treatment we got was not very different from the treatment we had received on our first visit. Which is one big reason for visiting this place: they treat everyone very well.
The other big reason is the food.
I took my hubbie to Grocery for his birthday last December and we managed to spend $150 total (that included the whole monty, ie, appetizers, mid-price cabernet, desserts, cappacino, tax, tip). You could spend alot less and have an equally terrific meal I'm sure.
I can't say enough how wonderful our meal was. I bragged for weeks to anyone who would listen that the owner actually came out and talked to us! (When said hubbie raved about the venison, we conversated long about game-y tasting vs. no game-y tasting.)
In the end, Charlie, (at least I assume it was Charlie), recommended Al Di La, a Park Slope restaurant down closer to where we live. Has anyone eaten there? Is the cauliflower dish I keep reading/hearing about worth the trip?