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Mar 7, 2012 06:04 AM

North End Grill -a special birthday destination?

Morning ya all. I made a dinner reservation for my wife's birthday on March 18th at north End Grill. It seems like it's one of the more hot restaurants on the scene right now. We enjoy local,seasonal cuisine. I was also looking into Acme but it seems many people feel it's more about the scene then the food. I have seen Acme's menu and the do put an emphasis on sustainable, seasonal and local cuisine-just what I was looking for. So, any thoughts are appreciated.

North End Grill
104 North End Ave, New York, NY 10282

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  1. If you don't need a scene, you've picked the right spot; NEG is about as non-sceney as it gets. It's in Battery Park City, behind Goldman Sachs, fer cryin out loud! (I live in the neighborhood so I'm allowed to rag on it ;) ) RGR gave it a thumbs-up on the "Displaced NYC Foodies" thread today, so you know the food is more than solid (although there was a very poor review from another CH stalwart recently). The big question is how "special" is it? If you're gonna travel down here from, say, the Upper East Side and have all sorts of great expectations, it's not that kind of special. The staff is great, the open kitchen is impressive, and it's an amazing addition to Way Downtown; it's just not an "occasion" place to me. Haven't been to Acme, but check out Cuozzo in today's Post for a nice write-up.

    North End Grill
    104 North End Ave, New York, NY 10282

    8 Replies
    1. re: Andy T.

      Thanks for your kind regarding my opinion of NEG, Andy! :) Of course, I read Simon's review, and while I am sorry he had such a poor experience, his is the only negative one I've heard of so far. However, as good as I thought the food was and as nice as the atmospherics are, I have to agree that (a) "hot" or a "scene" it is not, and (b) it doesn't feel "special occasion."

      We've not been to Acme yet (not exactly rushing), but from what I've read about it, I wouldn't choose it for a special occasion either.

      1. re: RGR

        Hello RGR- thanks for your feedback. I've always appreciated your reviews of the many restaurants you've visited here the NYC.Just to give you a sense of what restaurants my wife and I have enjoyed in the past. We love ABC Kitchen, Babbo, Eleven Madison Park (one of your favorites I believe) Blue Hill @ Stone Barns. We seem to gravitate to those Healthful,seasonal,local and organic eateries. We're not really Prix fix people (though the EMP meal was an incredible exception to the rule...and so worth it!) Given that her Bday is March 18th (sunday) I'm finding it difficult to think of a good restaurant that isn't already totally booked. I suppose that's why I thought North End Grill would work as they had availability and they fit our criteria. Any other ideas. Thanks,Lee.

        1. re: Legman

          For farm-to-table that's not on OpenTable (and therefore slightly under the radar), try calling Mas Farmhouse. They may have availability still. Let them know it's a birthday, and ask for a corner booth.

          Craft also has tables for 2 on 3/18 at prime times, I just checked OpenTable.

          As does Hearth and Telepan.

          So you do have some choices available to you!

          403 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10009

          72 W. 69th Street, New York, NY 10023

          43 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003

          Mas (Farmhouse)
          39 Downing St, New York, NY 10014

          1. re: Legman

            Lee, I'm glad you've found my comments helpful. :)

            Re: kathryn's suggestions. We've not been to Mas Farmhouse, so I can't comment.

            We've been to Hearth and Telepan once each (not recently). We had some temperature issues with our main courses at Hearth, but they were promptly addressed, we were comped the desserts for our trouble, and overall, the food was quite good. However, I didn't care at all for the ambiance (early warehouse decor and too noisy). Telepan has a lovely, elegant space which says "special occasion," but we found the food to be a letdown.

            I feel the same way about Craft as about North End Grill. Delicious food but not a place that says "special occasion" to me.

            As for othere options, I'm not sure Annisa would fit the farm-to-table concept that you prefer, but the meal we had there last week was superb, and it has the kind of intimate ambiance I like for celebration dining. Checking OpenTable, there is a reservation for 2 on 3/18 at 9:30 p.m.

            Ai Fiori is another place that feels celebratory to me. Despite being the antithesis of Anissa in size, it's very comfortable and quiet, and the food is excellent. OpenTable is showing availability at various times.


            1. re: RGR

              Thanks for the suggestions!

              1. re: Legman

                Due to some technical problems, I wasn't able to include links in my prior post to photos of our dinner at Annisa last week and our most recent dinner at Ai Fiori a few weeks ago. Perhaps they will help with your decision. (Note: We dined at Annisa with three others and did the 7-course tasting menu. At Ai Fiori, it was just the two of us, and we did the 4-course prix-fixe.)

                Annisa photo:

                Ai Fiori photos:


                13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

                Ai Fiori
                400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

                1. re: Legman

                  I have actually celebrated special occasions at both Hearth and Craft, as my husband and I both like the "industrial" modern interiors. YMMV.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    I actually found Craft's "industrial" interior much more appealing than Hearth's. Also, despite how cavernous Craft's space is, and the fact that it was packed on the Sunday evening we were there (over the Presidents' holiday weekend, so we were told it was busier than usual), the noise level remained *very* moderate. A huge plus for me!
                    Hearth was quite the opposire. Our table for two was in the large front room where they seat all the larger parties (six and eight), and it was quite loud.

                    When it comes to special occasions, we always do very upscale fine dining. But I can understand hat others, like you, find places like Hearth and Craft suitable for celebrations. I'm guessing you would feel the same about North End Grill. Obviously, a matter of personal preference.


        2. I wouldn't say Acme is more about the scene than the food. I'd say it's about BOTH the scene and the food -- and that different customers care about each one. So the scenesters have to put up with the foodies, and the foodies have to put up with the scenesters. Doesn't make the food less special or significant.

          And, between you and me, some of the scenesters are very pleasant to look at.

          9 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sneakeater

            I really didn't find it all that scene-y. Granted, I was out of there before 9, but the place was full when I left. It seems to me that the small size of the bar restricts it from becoming too much of a scene. Even with little bar space, they have people dining at tables in the bar, and place settings at all of the bar seats. Hardly any room for standing. There was also a pretty mixed crowd (ages 20s-60s), and they certainly didn't look like they were all from the fashion and art world. It's just a regular restaurant. A popular restaurant in Manhattan, yes, but a restaurant nonetheless. To me, it seemed like they were making it about the food (which is excellent, BTW, with surprisingly good service), with scene definitely being secondary.

            That said, I'm not sure it's great for a special occasion. My one quibble is that they tend to turn tables pretty quickly (at least on a busy weekend night). I've been in and out of there in an hour and a half with four courses and drinks. Also, despite the fact that I didn't find it to be the ultra-scene that many people say it is, it is definitely "vibrant" in terms of energy/noise (though not out of control)...possibly another strike against it as special occasion candidate depending on preferences.

            9 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012