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Apr 5, 2009 06:26 AM

Sweetgrass Grill in Tarrytown sort of open!!!

I have been soooo curious about Sweetgrass Grill (from the owners of Tomatillo in Dobbs, which I and I know others on CH love!) and have been checking on their website occasionally for the last few months... well a few days ago it finally said that they are almost ready to open and that the bar would be open this weekend with some goodies being passed around... so I went with my sister and boyfriend last night to get a few drinks and a sneak peek! I am so happy we went.

The aesthetics of the place are completely perfect. It has a contemporary western feel with a very earthy color palette, lots of green, (we commented that we almost expected to see tumbleweeds rolling by!) with a gorgeous wood bar and nice backed tall chairs. There are maybe 20 tables-- it's not too large-- dimly lit with beautiful candles that look almost like chunks of rocks.

They have 4-5 beers on tap including 2 kinds of Captain Lawrence, along with several bottled beers including at least one from Ithaca Beer Co, and lots of wine. My sister had a glass of wine that was poured VERY generously. The ladies at the bar were extremely polite and friendly. There were a few other groups there, mostly, it seemed, friends/family of the owners, who were also present. Everyone was very welcoming.

Much to our glee, they passed some appetizers around. We sampled ribs (totally tender and delicious), croquettes (delicately fried little nuggets of creamy mashed potatoes... a cross between a knish and a latke), battered green beans in an herbed vinaigrette (perfect bar food, and beautifully presented upright in a stout glass with the vinaigrette at the bottom... looked like they were stems sprouting from grass!), and gorgeous little salads with asparagus, what might have been pea shoots?, and pine nuts in a light dressing. We loved the treats and are so excited at the future menu they represent!

We took a gander at the menu-in-progress, which includes appetizers, burgers & other sandwiches (around the $10 mark), and entrees (up to and into the $20s), and some tantalizing desserts (fresh doughnuts!?!). It looks like some of the menu items will, like Tomatillo, be made with ingredients from Stone Barns. I can't wait to go back once they are officially open. I would definitely stop by to check it out if you are in the neighborhood!

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  1. I've been checking the website a lot too, and I plan to make a trip there soon. I'm glad to hear it was good. I love Tomatillo a lot, so I couldn't see Sweetgrass being a bad thing. I'm really interested to see the final menu, but fresh doughnuts are always a good thing in my book.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bnc

      I've conferred with my sister....and she remembered the fresh doughnuts come with white chocolate sauce and cherries. YUM!

    2. Stopped by this weekend for lunch. Definitely a lot of opening weekend kinks to iron out (no coffee?????? pretty major "kink" IMO). The only thing I kept hearing from the servers was "We just opened a couple days ago so...fill in excuse here". Overall, wasn't the pleasant dining experience I had hoped for, but will give it another try in a few weeks hoping that they've got themselves sorted out.

      14 Replies
      1. re: ronacann

        My wife and I walked into the place on Saturday night at 7:30pm.....

        The dining room was literally filled with children and the bar had two seats occupied. It seemed every table had little kids or mother's with babies in strollers or infants in their laps. It was not an environment we were seeking on a Saturday night out for dinner and a drink or two.. We didn't stay.

        Perhaps they are trying to achieve a family restaurant environment, but that wasnt the right fit for us. I did get a glance at the menu and it looked like food I would enjoy.

        One thing I dont really understand. I read on their website that they've been working on the place for 16 months. It seemed like a fairly sparse decor to me..... It didnt feel cozy and inviting. Just my opinion.

        1. re: frequentdiner

          I actually do have a toddler, and it's good to hear that they're family friendly, especially for dinner on a Saturday. Maybe they'll add a kids' menus since so many families are coming in.

          I overheard that they encountered a lot of structural problems to the building when renovating, so it delayed the quite some time. I do agree, that it didn't feel entirely cozy and inviting.

          1. re: ronacann

            Raises an Interesting point........

            What do you do if you are an owner, and you've spend 16 months and most of your money to open your dream: A bar and grill with sophistacated but reasonably priced locally sourced and grown foods. You have an expectation of having a hip adult customer base and you want your Grill to be the new, cool hangout. Instead, your restaurant becomes the local family restaurant, contrary to your dreams..... Do you quickly change your dream? or do you change your menu and the music and the lighting to make it less appealing to children and families?

            Im not saying this is the situation here, although it is possible.. Im just curious.

            1. re: frequentdiner

              That's an awfully good question - I suspect you try to stick with your original idea, since that's what the places is outfitted for. Don't buy any high chairs.

              But on Main Street in Tarrytown, on the first really nice weekend day of good weather, I'm not surprised it was chock-a-block with small fry. I'd have left, too, if my expectation was a place for grownups. I suspect that means there's a niche to be filled in Tarrytown?

              1. re: Nancy C

                Is this where Main Street Cafe used to be?

              2. re: frequentdiner

                Since the website states "We still want to be that friendly place in town where you can get healthy, locally-sourced food at affordable prices", sounds to me that their "dream" was not to be a super hip nightclub type place.
                I have a toddler and find it necessary every once and awhile to get out of the house for a descent lunch/dinner with my son. I'm always shocked to hear how many people are offended by this.

                1. re: westchesterdiner


                  I dont believe I used the words: "super hip nightclub type place"
                  I said "hip adult customer base" and "new cool hangout" I don't want a nightclub scene either.

                  As for dining with toddlers, I have absolutely no objection to you, or anyone else, dining with toddlers on a Saturday night, and I have no objection to restaurants that want a very child friendly environment. I have two grown children of my own and I recognize a desire for nice places that I could have brought my kids to when they were younger.....

                  With that said, if I am going out on a Saturday night without children, and would like an adult - non child vibe. I am going to seek out restaurants that meet that specification. Just as you are entitled to go where you want with your toddler, I am entitled to seek restaurants you might be less likely to take your child to for dinner.

                  Sweetgrass didn't do it for me and my original thought is still crossing my mind... What did the owners have in mind as their desired demographic?

                  1. re: frequentdiner

                    Your points are duly noted. The harshness in regards to toddlers dining out was not in direct reference to you, and I appologize if it came off that way. There are many posts on this site where the author seems to be repulsed by the sight of children in a restaurant - even restaurant critics write this at times. Another topic for another day I guess.

                  2. re: westchesterdiner

                    I rarely frequent restaurants with noisy children. Crying babies or loud children will ruin my meal and if I encounter them on entering a restaurant an immediate exit is in order. Even if toddlers initially seem quiet, they can "erupt" at any time. There are a number of excellent restaurants (Baccio in Bronxville for example) that loose customers such as myself due to their "family" nature.

                    1. re: budinado

                      I'm assuming they get more business from people are happy to have a decent quality family-friendly restaurant than from people like you who avoid them because of their policy.

              3. re: frequentdiner

                Interesting comments re: customer base. When we were there before it opened, I definitely got the vibe that they were looking for what frequentdiner refers to as a hip adult customer base, from the atmosphere and the menu (although there is a kids' menu). The lighting was very dim and it seemed like it would be a romantic place for a date if other customers had the same idea. I probably would have left too if I went in expecting an adult crowd and found a kiddie crowd.

                More importantly (to me anyway!)... how was the food?

                1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                  Meh. The food was nothing spectacular. I had the pork hot dog with sweet potato fries and the husband had the burger with regular fries -- options of fries, salad...and I want to say there was a 3rd option but I don't remember what it was. Only the sweet potato fries really stood out. Fries were pretty generic, was hoping for more from "house cut fries". Unless they have 2 different versions of fries and the house cut fries must be ordered separately. Overall I found my meal to be lacking.

                  With their lunch menu being mostly salads, burgers, sandwiches, and a burrito, I didn't get the feel that they're not welcoming to children/families. Interesting though that you mention a children's menu, because I wasn't offered one.

                  Still upset about them not having coffee though. There's a coffee shop across the street (a damn good one too), why couldn't they just get a few lbs of grounds to tide them over before their coffee shipment came in?

                  1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                    As a followup to my earlier posts, I went over and looked at the Tomatillo website.

                    Judging from the photos and the menu and graphics, it seems to be a reasonable conclusion that they were Not looking for a "hip adult customer base", and they probably aren't looking for that at Sweetgrass Grill either. (but who knows? besides them)

                    It seems the owners are demonstating they are kid friendly, and probably quite happy to have the restaurant filled on a Saturday night with children and parents.....

                    Maybe I'll stop in much later than 7:30 on a Saturday night some time and try the food.

              4. I ate here last weekend and I can agree that it was not very welcoming at all. We stood around waiting to be seated as we were ignored for a few minutes. We all ordered the grass fed burgers. They were great. However, the service was lacking quite a bit. The staff was not very attentive at all. We would look around and they were starring right in our direction, still nothing. It was almost as if we were in an episode of the Twilight Zone and the staff didn't care about the customers and didn't see them at all. We told the man who seemed to be the owner. He apologized but did not even offer us a dessert or drink on the house. I have been in the restaurant business for about 15 years now and I was surprised. Atleast the food was good. We will come back eventually to give it another chance. Hopefully, they are welcoming this time.

                1. I really can't believe all the carping -- geez, I've been to any number of restaurants, from modest to fine dining, during their opening weeks and rare is the one without numerous kinks to be worked out. Plus all the carping about kids -- not that atmosphere doesn't matter, but if you care so much, just go to dinner after 8 pm (they're open late).

                  What counts here is the food -- my wife and I went to dinner last week (on a Thursday at 9:30, btw, with the dining room 1/3 filled and no kids in sight). The chicken soup was nothing short of superb, perhaps the best soup we've ever had, the arctic cod was absolutely wonderful, and the brownie desert sublime. We also had the sausage with white beans, which was excellent, though perhaps not everyone's cup of tea, and a fine spinach salad with poached egg. As good a meal (actually better) as we've had just about anywhere, including such starred eateries as the Gramercy Tavern. The service was attentive and polite, if not polished, but it's not that type of place. And all of this with three drinks and 2 coffees for $80.

                  The only negatives were that the room is noisy, the chairs not terribly comfortable, and the napkins thin paper (I'd expect the latter to improve). But such minor shortcomings pale in comparison to the incredibly well-prepared, creative and marvelous food, delivered at way-more-than reasonable prices.

                  1. A report/story from LoHud:
                    First Taste: Sweet Grass Grill
                    I stopped by the new Sweet Grass Grill in Tarrytown last night and shared a few things with a couple of friends. By no means is this a full review, just a sampling, but I have to say I was impressed. My favorite dish was the chicken:

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Jon1856

                      The restaurant has promise but still needs to iron out a few glitches. Staff mostly pleasant but when harried are abrupt.

                      Sauces overly sweet and thick. need some acidity as a counterbalance. There was a cereal that was not cous cous but related that tasted of dust and animal feed pellets. Meat for the grass fed burgers excellent. Greasy baby shrimp. Great ingredients, needs better execution.