It’s time to enjoy an evening spent dining in a time zone of its own
Written by Phoebe Calver
It was a cold and rainy night in December. Taxis were speeding along the busy streets, people were huddling under dripping umbrellas; there was an air of anticipation of what was to come floating around us. Okay, I’ll stop with the Agatha Christie novel intro now, but very soon you’ll understand why I couldn’t resist a little foray into the style while pondering the way to begin the review of an evening to remember.
The evening certainly was rainy and cold, but as I walked through the revolving door and into the ground floor of Great Jones Distilling, all the woes of the outside world were forgotten. I was immediately transported back in time – which, judging by the décor, was the point – to a moment of glitz and glamor.
The first thing to capture your attention is the Vendome still that has been deconstructed and suspended in the middle of the beautiful spiralling staircase. It perfectly encapsulates the combination of science and artistry that goes into the process of whiskey making, in a visual form. If that wasn’t enough to make you feel at home in the distillery, the sky-high shelves full of Great Jones Distilling’s spirit to the right of the entrance certainly will. From the second you step over the threshold, this distillery provides you with a feast for the senses – something that we have all been lacking during the past two years.
When you’re finally able to drag yourself away from what I’ll affectionately call the whiskey art gallery, the welcome that awaits you is relaxed, professional, and inviting – the perfect spot to forget about the world for a few hours. Once your coat is checked and your reservation ticked off, it’s time to head into The Grid itself.
As one of the first diners to arrive at the restaurant that evening, the sense of bubbling anticipation ahead of ‘service’ for the day helped to build a brilliant atmosphere. As I sat waiting for my companion, I chose not to give in to my classic millennial trait of grabbing my phone at the first sign of solitude, and instead soaked it all up. Thanks to the open kitchen that was directly in front of my table, I was able to watch as the chefs swiftly prepared their ingredients and executive chef Adam Raksin kept a keen eye on all aspects of his domain.
Raksin has spent more than 15 years honing his culinary skills in prestigious kitchens across New York City, including Le Cirque, Benoit, L2o, Gunter Seeger NY, Per Se, and more. At The Grid, he is creating a fresh take on tradition, proudly serving classic favorites, but using reinvigorated modern techniques and local ingredients such as rye berries, artisanal corn polenta, winter squash, and of course Great Jones Distilling’s whiskey.
The 72-seater restaurant, located within the distillery, pays homage to a bygone era of the city’s past, which I have no doubt will appeal to locals and tourists alike. The new dining experience opened on October 14, 2021 and offers a modern approach to American cuisine, while celebrating the versatility of whiskey in cooking and cocktails.
Circling back to the table, the set-up provides a slightly more relaxed approach to fine dining; it’s minimal, and allows you plenty of space to peruse the evening’s menu. And oh boy, is it an enticing menu to peruse. From a tempting and well-organised array of cocktails, to unique dishes, it’s an experience not to be missed.
The Grid Cocktail Menu
Up first was potentially the most difficult decision of the evening: which drink to kick off with. The team at The Grid has been able to fully make use of its supply of whiskey from Great Jones Distilling, allowing mixologists to experiment and play with old and new cocktails alike.
If you’re a minimalist and like to enjoy your whiskey as it comes then you can do just that, but there is also a tasting trio that gives you the opportunity to sample the distillery’s creations in a flight.
The menu is cleverly split up into sections to swiftly direct your attention to the drink you’re in the mood for: there’s Tall & Refreshing, Bright & Citrusy, and Updated Classics to choose from. I will admit I sampled cocktails from more than one of those sections, and the balance of flavors was not in competition with the dishes, but instead cohesive. Of course, if you’d rather keep the whiskey in your food for the evening, there is also a wide selection of draughts, bottles and cans, sparkling, rosé, white, and red wine to choose from.
The whiskeys that feature in The Grid are Great Jones Distilling’s three signature whiskeys: Great Jones Straight Bourbon, Great Jones Four Grain Bourbon, and Great Jones Rye Whiskey, all of which are central to the dishes being created there.
The Grid Dinner Menu
As you may have come to expect when it comes to fine-dining experiences, the menu of experimental food on offer at The Grid is subject to change. However, it would appear the high standards never alter. The setup for the dinner menu comprises three sections: appetizers, entrées, and accompaniments.
The selection of locally inspired appetizers can include East Coast oysters, house-made brioche – using Great Jones spent grain butter, may I add – black dirt applejack-braised bacon, gem lettuce Caesar, or French onion soup.
On the evening we attended the restaurant, there was something for everyone in the list of entrées. If you’re after a classic burger, you can have it… with truffle fries and the most delectable Bourbon and bacon jam. Perhaps not so classic after all! There was also lobster roll, crispy skin ora king salmon, prime NY strip with Great Jones Four Grain and green peppercorn sauce, and slow-roasted fall squash.
For the lactose tolerant among our readers, it’s also worth noting that a life without trying the chiocciole mac and cheese with toasted breadcrumbs is not one you want to lead. It’s luxe, and for a treat once in a while, it should certainly be on your list.
The Grid, at Broadway and Great Jones Street, is open for dinner Wednesday
through Sunday, from 5:30pm to 10pm, and its menus are subject to change. For reservations, please visit https://greatjonesdistillingco.com/restaurant/or OpenTable.