Blog: Grand Gourmet The Flavor of Midtown 2013
Once a year, Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall is transformed into an eating and imbibing extravaganza like none other. Thursday evening, dozens of Midtown East’s finest establishments gathered inside the building’s hallowed halls for the 2013 “Grand Gourmet: The Flavor of Midtown.” For three full hours, guests were treated to choice selections of dishes across a wide spectrum of culinary inspirations. And with a reconfigured setup, this year’s event was not maligned with some of the frustrating waits and lengthy lines that have marred similarly run events, despite the large number of attending guests in the house.
Upon entering the space, we took a minute to look around at all of the space’s grandeur. With so much history within its walls and so many restaurants now housed under its roof, we grabbed a deliciously crisp flute of sparkling Finger Lakes wine, and made our initial foray to Strip House Midtown’s table and grabbed their handheld “Wellington Slider.” The hunk of tender New York Strip steak was doused in a shiitake marmalade, and topped with foie gras torchon and a bone marrow mustard- the combination of which perfectly paired together. Chef Michael Vignola was on hand to pass out this extremely tasty and complex delight which set the pace for tons of culinary fun to be had. In keeping with meaty selections we headed over to the table from Benjamin Steakhouse, which had one of the longer waits of the evening- usually an indicator of delectable eats to come. The much talked about establishment was serving up choice cuts of their signature “Dry Aged Porterhouse with ‘Creamless’ Creamed Spinach and Benjamin Steak Sauce.” From the steak to the spinach, this bite sized version of this popular meal literally melted in our mouths. It took all of our will not to stay at their table all night. Luckily their sister restaurant The Sea Fire Grill was a few steps away with silver platters full of their freshly prepared “Lobster Sliders” to pull our attention away. It’s rare for a joint to give you so much lobster meat on a roll sandwich in general but to jam that much onto a tiny slider was deliciously generous!
With excellent tastes from Cibo (“Rosemary Lamb Meatballs”), The Capital Grille (“Kona Rub Tenderloin”), La Fonda Del Sol (“Gulf Shrimp Ceviche”), and The Long Room (“Everything Crusted Ahi Tuna”), we were in the midst of a food tasting whirlwind. It was therefore time to take a break and grab something to wash it all down with. Luckily for us the folks at “Discover Finger Lake Wines” were on hand to ply us with tons of grape-filled goodness. We spent a large amount of time with the team from Hosmer Winery, tasting and discussing their 2011 Chardonnay, 2011 Pinot Gris and 2009 Lemberger. Each of these wines were quite impressive and a reminder of the outstanding production of the region, just a short ride away from Manhattan. Our friends at Beer Table Pantry were nearby, pouring crisp full pints of Brooklyn Brewery’s “Sorachi Ace,” a beer we can’t get enough of.
With a solid base of alcoholic nectar in our bodies we returned to the tasting tables to sample some very hearty offerings. We found our favorite bite of the evening from the huge staff from The LCL: Bar & Kichen. Serving their “Blue Point Chili,” the chefs prepared this Texas style no bean chili with Blue Point Lager beer and flank steak. It was served piping hot and maintained a sweet flavor, despite a smattering of shredded cheese and three crisp tortilla chips for lapping everything up. Needless to say we returned for several repeat tastings. It was simply that good.
With nearly 1,000 guests in attendance, the evening would serve to benefit the Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services Corporation, a nonprofit organization to assist the homeless in the Midtown area. Said President/CEO of the Grand Central Partnership Fred Cerullo, “it’s an opportunity for businesses and our corporate sponsors to give back because the proceeds benefit the homeless service provider in the neighborhood. So for us it’s a win win situation- we get to market our neighborhood and we get to give back.” Admittedly, with that sentiment in mind, filling our stomachs with the great tastes of Midtown never felt so good.
– Jay Rubin