Dec

31

2014

Great Eats at Crescent Grill

by megc | 0 | Share this Article:

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Recently Judith and I had a chance to check out the food at Crescent Grill, a nice restaurant/bar on the corner of Crescent Street and 39th Ave. It’s one of the newer restaurants in Dutch Kills, having opened up last fall, and we’re thrilled that they are serving such great food—it’s both delicious and easy on the eyes.

We went to an event they threw last December and was impressed at that time by the space, which has an art gallery in it, called the Dougherty Gallery. As you enter, there is a little gallery in a small room on the right. You’ll find the works of local and national artists adorning the walls, with shows rotating over the time.

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The design of the building is influenced by artist-designer-architect Orestes Gonzales. Wood plays a role on walls and floors, as well as some of the lighting fixtures in the lounge, created by Ignatius “Iggy” of LIC. There is a bar/lounge in the front part of the space, with a wider dining room in the back. The whole place feels warm and inviting, and it was a pleasant experience to be there.

The menu is seasonal-oriented, and the owners, Shaun and Daniel Dougherty, make an effort to use ingredients that are as local as they can manage. You’ll find food from Long Island, upstate, and Pennyslvania on your plate, and the owners like to visit their farmers, fisherman, and livestock professionals personally so they are intimately familiar with the product they serve their diners. As a result, their food tastes fresh and clean.

Here are some of the things we tried, all of which were solid, well-made, and crush-worth.

Biscuits with Honey Butter

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I liked how flaky they were, and loved eating them with the honey butter (a round pat of butter sitting in a pool of honey) that came with it. At times they almost melted in my mouth! -Meg

Boasting a beautifully golden crust, these little biscuits were a great way to start our meal, as they gave a nice prelude for other delicious things.  They were just the right amount of buttery and moist, bejeweled with bright flecks of green from onions and with red smoky bacon bits.  -Judith

Cocktails

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I ordered the Huckleberry Cosmo (foreground) made with house-made huckleberry puree, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and Russian Standard Vodka. It was delightfully tart with a little sweetness. I love eating huckleberries at my cousin’s house in Washington, so I knew I’d love a drink made with huckleberry puree. I’d order this again. -Meg

My drink of choice was the Mexican Mule, which was a mixture of Sauza Blue Tequila, ginger beer, fresh lime and simple syrup. Expecting it to have a little bit of a kick and a hint of spice from the ginger, it was a bit too sweet and syrupy for my liking and I’m not sure I’d get it next time. For those of you who like your cocktails on the sweet side, I think you’ll enjoy it.  -Judith

Pear and Endive Salad

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I thought the presentation of this salad was fantastic! The crisp thin slices of pears along with endive and a slice of manchego were standing up amongst shredded romaine, frisee, and blood oranges, all lightly mixed with a pistachio vinaigrette. I’m usually not a fan of pears on the crunchy side, but it worked in this dish. -Meg

Starting with a medley of fresh veggies sounded like a good idea to me, and this particular salad drew me in because it included endives and manchego cheese. Loving the licoricey taste of the endive, it married beautifully with the crunchy, sweet pears and the slightly tart frisee.  The overall effect was unexpected and sophisticated, as it combined a rich bevy of flavors and textures all on one plate.  -Judith

Pappardelle Pasta

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I read the description of this and two things stood out for me—duck confit and kabocha squash, two things I absolutely love. I also liked the inclusion of brussels sprouts into the mix, as well as sage and mascarpone cheese. The pappardelle was light and delicate, obviously homemade. -Meg

Meg chose this as our second appetizer, and while I probably wouldn’t have picked it on my own, it turned out to be a stand-out.  The fresh pasta was perfectly cooked and dressed simply with ever-so-slightly sauteed veggies and a delicate duck confit.  It was a beautiful dish, not only due to its vibrant ingredients but also because of how simple it was.  -Judith

Yellowfin Tuna Tartare

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This was a surprise offering from the kitchen, and I loved it! It’s made from a toasted coriander filo ring that is filled with small chunks of raw tuna, avocado, black sesame, accompanied by a balsamic dressing. I also loved the microgreens on top of it all. This was a light and refreshing dish and I could see really enjoying this in the middle of a hot summer day. -Meg

An unexpected offering from the chef, we couldn’t refuse and thoroughly enjoyed the fresh, perfectly cut tuna crudo, simply dressed with olive oil, balsamic glaze and some citrus. Loving the way Chef Milton composed this dish, it was the epitome of simplicity and freshness. -Judith

Braised Colorado Lamb Shank

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Braised lamb shank is a favorite of mine when going out to eat and something I consider to be a special treat.  Crescent Grill’s version more than delivered on the beautiful, tender texture of the meat, which was embellished with a medley of colorful root veggies such as zucchini, rhubarb and sweet potatoes. Although the ingredients in this dish were super hearty, it didn’t leave you feeling weighed down. -Judith

I had a taste of this and loved all the elements, from the fall-off-the-bone tender lamb, to the Anson Mills grits (which inspired me to make some here at my own home), to the nom-licious potatoes that went so well with the lamb. Here’s a closeup of those super spuds. -Meg

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Crescent Burger

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I saw a couple of plates of burgers come out of the kitchen and asked where they were on the menu. Turns out it’s on the Lounge menu (we were working primarily from the Dinner menu). I’m really glad I ordered it, because apart from the burger being super tasty, the fries were amazing! Turns out they cut the potatoes themselves, blanche them, and then fry them, yielding a soft fluffy interior and a crispy exterior. That is exactly the way I love my fries.The burger itself is made of 8oz of house ground Wagyu beef served on a housemade toasted bun with upstate NY cheddar and applewood smoked bacon. -Meg

I have to admit that I had a case of food envy when I saw Meg’s burger.  Looking perfectly plump and golden, with a pretty egg-glazed bun, it tasted as awesome as it looked.  The meat was juicy and flavorful, with a perfect amount of fat to lean protein ratio and the fries were simply irresistible.  Meg and I marveled at the crispiness of the fries, concluding they were twice-fried, only to find out they were first blanched and then fried, as Chef Milton explained.  -Judith

Chocolate Tart

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When we were offered dessert, it was this chocolate tart that really caught our eye—a combo of chocolate, vanilla, and caramel just can’t be beat. I loved how the tart itself was covered with the cacao nib tuile, which was crunchy and had almost a caramelized flavor to it. The vanilla ice cream also helped dilute the richness of the chocolate. All in all, it was one of the best desserts I’ve had in a while at a restaurant. – Meg

Although I was full, I couldn’t deny dessert, especially given the success of the rest of our meal. This chocolate tart was something else, with a crunchy toffee crust, a chilled dark chocolate ganache middle and a scoop of delicate vanilla bean ice cream to boot. Just like the aforementioned pasta, it’s not about what was on the plate, it’s the impeccable way in which it was prepared.  - Judith

Port Poached Bosc Pear

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This was a surprise offering from the kitchen as well. The poached pear  is connected to the coconut sorbet by a cinnamon puff pastry, making deconstructing this dessert a fun thing. It’s a nice mix of elements with rich and light contrasting each other. If you like poached pears, this is the dessert for you. -Meg

The presentation of this dish was another show stopper, as it resembled a carefully composed piece of art. The pear was glazed in a deep port reduction, resulting in both sweet and earthy flavors, while the ice cream helped create a bold juxtaposition of flavor and texture that really made this dish sing. -Judith

We got a chance to speak with the executive chef, Milton Enriquez. He’s worked at a variety of places, and here in NYC he’s been a part of the team at The Royalton, Eleven Madison Park, and Compass. He’s glad to be working at Crescent Grill and obviously takes pride in his work. He regaled us with tales of his experience on the TV show Chopped (yes, he won), where he had to improvise the texture and flavor of pumpkin out of potatoes, carrots, and bananas, which made for a very convincing faux pumpkin puree.

We loved the meal we had and are pretty happy to recommend it to anyone who is looking for fresh, well-prepared, flavorful, and seasonal food. They’re also happy to come get you via their free shuttle, and more info can be found on this perk, here.

Crescent Grill, 38-40 Crescent Street, Long Island City, NY 11101, crescentgrill.com

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