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Mar 3, 2012 12:59 PM

David Santos at City Grit - Crazy Good

I just had my best meal of the year at City Grit, a supper club venue in Soho I was not familiar with (it's on Prince St. between Mulberry and Mott). David Santos (formerly of Per Se, Bouley, and Hotel Griffou) has taken his Um Segredo dining group to City Grit for four events.

It's annoying to rave about a meal others can't obtain, so I'll save the gory details. This dinner on March 1, called March Madness, offered six courses unrelated to basketball playoffs, but rather dishes consisting of at least one ingredient that was rightly or wrongly thought to create madness (ranging from absinthe to apricot kernels). Here are some lovely photos of Annie Wang's: http://fritesandfries.com/post/186407...

David is offering three different dinners this week. Thursday is a tribute to Minnesota cuisine, with Dave cooking alongside Andrew Kraft, who melds touches from his native Minnesotan to his Franco-American cuisine at 6th. Friday is an oyster tasting menu (down to oyster crackers as the pastry base for a "NY cheesecake.") And on Saturday, Santos is joined by Akiko Moorman for a Japaguese dinner -- a combo of her Japanese and Santos's Portuguese roots.

City Grit offers inexpensive wine by the glass or bottle. You pay in advance via PayPal, and then your only expense is optional wine and tip. For more information, http://citygritnyc.com/

I can't find a Web listing of the menus anywhere, so I hope it's OK to cut and paste from the Um Segredo email about these dinners:


On March 8th i will be teaming up with my good friend Andrew Kraft. His roots are deep in Minnesota pride, so what better way to have fun but to do an inspiring explore Minnesota menu? We are taking classic Minnesota ingredients and putting a lot of love in them to create a refined midwest "comfort food" menu.

"green bean casserole"

Pickled mushroom salad
asparagus, poached egg, mizuna

Roasted pork belly
smoked potato puree, German potato salad, pickled mustard seeds

wild rice risotto, hazelnut foam

Braised Short Ribs
herbed spatzle, Root veg, onion puree

Apple Bread Pudding
cider puree, Vanilla and salted caramel gelato

On March 9th, I will be putting together an "ode to the oyster houses" menu. I offered something like this on Tuesdays at Griffou when I was there. People had a blast with it then, so I thought it would be nice to bring it back.


First Course
oysters on a half shell with a variety sauces

Second Course
pickled oyster and pork belly salad, onion fondue, arugula

Third Course
Oyster stew

Fourth Course
Oyster po boy, portuguese potatoes

Fifth Course
"NY cheesecake" oyster cracker crumble


Finally, to cap it off we are going Japaquese! This time I will team up with my good friend Akiko Moorman to create a fusion between Portuguese and the Japanese cuisines. An actual cuisine in Hawaii, we are looking to put our own little spin on this one!

First Course
snapper ceviche, shiso, veg crisp

Second Course
Portuguese octopus and japanese sardines
smoked potato puree, parsley pistou

Third Course
"Kale Soup"
Kale, potatoes, chourico, miso broth

Fourth Course
tempura baby vegetables and prawns, piri piri sauce

Fifth Course
manila clams, pork shoulder, japanese sweet potatoes and pickles

Sixth Course
Yuzu rice pudding, spiced tapioca crisp, mint gel

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  1. Aww..thanks for linking my photoset!

    2 Replies
    1. re: foodmusing

      Annie, I've only met you once but I just love your photography and am a big fan of your blog, Frites and Fries: http://fritesandfries.com/ I am too lazy and incompetent to take good photos at a meal, especially one I'm enjoying, so it is a real pleasure to link to your work.

      1. re: Dave Feldman

        I have also had the pleaure of meeting Annie at one of the Um Segredo dinners. She is a lovely young woman and does, indeed, take superb photos.

        The March Madness dinner looks fantastic. We did not sign up for it which, as it turned out, was just as well as I've been sick most of this past week, so we'd have had to bow out.


    2. Planning to go to one of these at City Grit soon and am glad to hear it was so good. A couple questions: 1) how long was the meal (not sure if it would be longer or quicker than any other type of meal) 2) you pay in advance and then tipped there in cash I'm assuming?

      1. I went to David's truffle-themed dinner last year, and it was one of most memorable meals I've had all year. Simply delicious food - it is obvious that he is a very talented chef who cares very much about what he puts out. And I love these themed dinners, so interesting. I'm finally going back and looking forward to attending his Portuguese-themed dinner ("Down Portugal Way"?) on May 17th.

        9 Replies
        1. re: uwsister

          That's the one I'm hoping to go to but being a commitment-phobe about buying 5 tickets for it....think I just need to pull the trigger before I get locked out of it.

          1. re: lucyj

            I haven't bought the tickets yet either - waiting to confirm that my husband can trade days at work - but David told me the space is quite big so most likely I'll be able to get tickets. So keep checking back and do it when you have your heart set on it! I definitely recommend it - like I said, the truffle dinner he cooked was one of my best meals last year.

            1. re: uwsister

              I went ahead and bought them! I've been hoping to go to one of his dinners for a while and we happen to be celebrating that night so the timing is perfect. Do you know anything about the timing or tipping convention for city grit? Just unsure if it operates like a "typical" restaurant since the upfront payment system clearly isn't...

              1. re: lucyj

                Sorry I didn't make a more timely reply. Yes, you pay for the meal in advance and tip there (and pay for any wine consumed). The two times I've done a David meal at City Grit I've paid the tip in cash, but it's probably possible to do it along with the wine bill -- I'm not positive.

                I'd expect the meals to take 2-3 hours, depending on the menu. I do have a preference for the dinners on Roosevelt Island, for three main reasons: they are more intimate, and more conducive to conversation, especially meeting new people; they are quieter (City Grit has nothing to muffle sound when it is crowded); and you don't have as much access to the chef, although David will come out to introduce at least some of the dishes as well as come out to mingle after the meal is over.

                Of course, City Grit is more convenient for most Manhattanites, and chances are you'll have a fabulous time.

                1. re: Dave Feldman

                  Great thanks! I really want to go to one of his Roosevelt Island but it just so happens that we are celebrating that night so we'll to do Roosevelt Island another time!

                2. re: lucyj

                  re: tip,
                  I paid in cash, after the dinner, along with the price of the meal - this was one of the earlier dinners so there was no system for advance payment.

                  The dinner I had (truffle dinner) was at David's home in Roosevelt Island, and the setting was indeed very conducive to meeting other diners and getting to know them. I enjoyed that immensely - even met a couple of 'hounds! :) I'm a little disappointed to hear that City Grits isn't quite like that, but I'm sure it'll be a fabulous time nonetheless.

                  1. re: uwsister

                    Just got back from a fabulous Cinco de Mayo six-courser.

                    I wouldn't worry about the atmosphere at City Grit -- especially when it isn't too crowded, you can enjoy many of the benefits of the other location. The meals tend to be shorter (tonight's ran long) because of more staff, etc. Dave seemed to be high on the upcoming Portuguese dinner at City Grit, because there's going to be a Portuguese winemaker doing pairings.

                    1. re: Dave Feldman

                      I'm way overdue in reporting back on this meal but it was (consistent with what everyone has said about all of Dave's meals) really excellent. The courses were:

                      Coriander cured branzino
                      piri piri oil, pickled banana puree

                      Warm potato salad
                      Lamb, favas, peas, garlic emulsion

                      Seafood fritters
                      Cod, shrimp, smoked paprika

                      Duck Rice
                      Duck two ways, spring rice, port froth

                      Coffee flan, citrus cookies

                      In addition there was a delicious amuse bouche with shrimp that wasn't listed in the promo for the meal and I can't remember exactly. The shrimp, branzino and duck rice were the highlights (in my opinion) but everything was wonderful. (I actually preferred this arroz con pato spin to the one at Aldea, which I had found a little too salty - Dave had compared his to that at Aldea during his intro description of the meal). Although the meal was Portugese-themed Dave explain it was really inspired by ingredients frequently used in his childhood. The flavors were bold and unique but worked throughout the meal. The banana puree for example was subtle but there was a distinct banana flavor that balanced well against the branzino. I wish I could remember more details but that's what happens when you wait too long to review. Overall, I thought we got a good amount of food for the money and the wine flights were very inexpensive ($36 for the full flight!)

                      The City Grits concept is really interesting and one we were happy to support. It's important to keep in mind that the space is a furniture store built from an old school house and the seats are not especially comfortable. There are maybe 6ish large communal tables and the acoustics aren't great (it started out VERY loud but got quieter as the night went on). However, people there go with the intention of enjoying the food and chatting with others so the environment was warm, festive and generally very enjoyable.

                      I am hoping to join one of Dave's dinners at Roosevelt Island soon.

                      1. re: lucyj

                        I was at this dinner, too, and my feelings echoed yours. I felt the seafood fritter course was the least successful, and I didn't like the dessert quite as much as the other courses, but everything was at least good.

                        Like you, I'm not wild about the noise level at City Grit when it is packed, but the overall experience was terrific.