Experience at g/r/a/n/d more than a trifle (truffle?) yummy
For a guy who adores chicken pot pie, thinks haute cuisine is anything that includes balsamic vinaigrette and tends to frequent establishments whose idea of ambience is peanut shells on the floor; the idea of doing a restaurant review seemed, well, radicchio.
But when as invitation to a press event at the g/r/a/n/d restaurant in Stamford came across my desk last week, I smelled opportunity. The opportunity to cover it for our fledgling newspaper and to score some points with my wife by taking her with me. Plus, she can tell the difference between arugula and romaine.
Prior to the event, I tried to figure out what pate de foie gras is and update my vocabulary with phrases like "understatedly effervescent" and "practically ambrosial."
Feeling fairly confident I could bluff my way through this review, I happened to come across a legitimate evaluation of g/r/a/n/d in my favorite alternative weekly, and quickly realized that I was out of my league. The reviewer noted the smell of truffle oil rising from a macaroni and cheese dish. I wouldn’t know what truffle oil smelled like if I was lathered in it. Nevertheless, I pressed on, primarily because I was starving. Upon entering the g/r/a/n/d, the first thing I noticed is that the owners have taken a slice of Manhattan and wedged it into Bank Street. During cocktail hour, I was introduced to the man who has done the review I had perused earlier. Philip Innes is a well-known, fluent food writer who apparently has hit every restaurant in the Northern Hemisphere. (When I asked him where a guy could get a decent Mexican meal in Connecticut, he told me to go to New London. Sorry Phil, but that would have to be one helluva burrito to get me to drive two hours for it.) Philip likes g/r/a/n/d, which is about as good as endorsement as you can get around here. Atmospherically, g/r/a/n/d is a restaurant dressed up as a lounge. High ceilings, austere walls, sleek post-modern furnishings and a huge, back-lit wall behind the bar that changed colors continuously, creating an effect similar to steal a line from my new friend Phil’s column communal mood ring.
The g/r/a/n/d has a beautiful people feel that reminded me of places where young single men learn how to handle rejection. Comfort food with a twist takes on a new earning after being blown off by a secretary from UBS Warburg.
The kitchen lavished us with dishes such as mac and cheese with truffles and gruyere, which I found out is a type of cheese good food and education (what a country!) braised short ribs, which were succulent (how’s that for a food review word) and lobster bruschetta.
For what it’s worth, I say find a date or friend and head to g/r/a/n/d for the trippy colored wall, the good-looking crowd, the inventive food and Tribeca-flavored atmosphere.
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