Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lovely atmosphere and okay food at Bryant Park Grill

The other day, I was treated to another work lunch with two team members at the Bryant Park Grill. Since it was a lovely day, we headed over to the park, eager to eat outside.

So incredibly beautiful outside

We had a reservation, and I went inside and checked in at the hostess stand. She asked whether we wanted to sit inside or out; I said out, and she sent me outside to the outdoor host's stand. There was a huge line, and I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to join the line or cut in front, so I just stood awkwardly to the side for a while until the host noticed me, I made puzzled comments, and then they seated our table. Phew.

Standard menu

We looked at the menu and quickly placed our order. A bread basket arrived shortly after, offering three kinds of bread: a mixed grain roll, a ciabatta-like white roll, and a cheesy breadstick. I chose the mixed grain roll to start and dug out a dollop of softened butter from the ramekin. The roll had promise, but unfortunately the exterior was soft rather than crisp, so it was unpleasantly reminiscent of the rolls you get in airplane meals, you know? The interior of the roll was a bit better, but I still wasn't satisfied. I moved on to try one of the ciabattas. It turns out that these were flecked with pieces of olives, which usually aren't good but in this case weren't bad. The bread was crisp and really chewy. Together, the two rolls provided a suitable carb fix for the time being.

Many bread options

Disappointingly soft roll

Better ciabatta

Our entrees arrived shortly after. L had ordered crabcakes; they came as two reasonably sized, golden-brown cakes with some lettuce in between. She finished most but not all of them; I didn't get a read on how good the dish was, but it looked pretty standard.

Sunny crabcakes

S ordered the chicken Caesar salad. It was enormous, with almost an entire chicken on the side. This got points for good value, and S enjoyed the taste.


I ordered the avocado, shittake mushroom and spring onion salad, except I replaced the avocado with celeraic. While substitution came as requested, I asked for the dressing on the side, which they didn't do. The salad was small, and while the menu description said it was on a bed of arugula, it was actually mostly frisee (boo). The dressing was very flavorful, and the mushrooms were good but in very small quantity. I don't recall encountering any spring onions. Overall, this salad was very...meh. And as I finished it, there was a pool of oil at the bottom. Not so appealing.

Mediocre salad

Bryant Park Grill is a lovely, lovely place to eat if it's a nice day. When we were there, the sun was shining, people were happy to be out of the office-- and some days that's all you need. Food-wise, the Bryant Park Grill (at least the outside part) could step up its game a little bit-- but still, I wouldn't hesitate to go back if the opportunity presented itself. For that, I award BPG three out of five offset spatulas.

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